The Hornby Grange was the first steamer to be built for the Houlder Line, for a cost of £36,724 and launched from Wigham Richardson’s Neptune Shipyard on the Tyne on 7th December 1889. Of 2,473 grt, 3,373 dwt, and she was fitted with six insulated chambers of 75,000 cu.ft. capacity. The builders made a profit of £2,423 on the contract.
She sailed on 9th March 1890 on her maiden voyage to Montevideo and Buenos Aires on what became her regular route, although in 1893 she did make one trip to Melbourne and Sydney.
In the spring of 1895 she took the first of several consignments of sheep from the Falkland Islands to London. The sheep had been killed on shore, and the carcases ferried to the ship in her lifeboats. The ship’s refrigeration plant was then used as a factory for freezing the meat before the voyage home.
In February 1898 she had to put into Lisbon, with broken piston rods, and was towed back to the Tyne.
A year later when 180 miles off the Brazilian coast she came across the Teresa, a dismasted Spanish barque with a cargo of coffee, which she towed back to Rio de Janeiro.
On 28th June 1905, she was rammed by the collier Holderness in the North Sea in dense fog. The Houlder ship was on passage from Hull to the Tyne and had to be beached at Runswick Bay, north of Whitby. The damage consisted of a 30 foot long gash in the port side shell plating, the engine room, stokehold, bunkers full of water and Nos. 2, 3 and 4 holds were flooded.
The cargo of meat was contaminated (400 quarters of beef, 120 carcases of mutton and 400 cases of sundries).
By 11th July she had been taken to Smiths Docks at North Shields, where 120 shell and bottom plates were replaced along with the insulation in the holds which had to be entirely replaced. The repair contract cost was £7,250. The ship did not re-enter service until November 1905.
Several months later the ship was ‘fixed’ for a two year time charter to a Russo-Chinese bank, to act as a store-ship at Vladivostok, sailing there from Hong Kong on 6th September 1906.
During the next two years she replenished her cargo holds, by sailing to Australian ports to pick up new cargoes of meat. During this period she suffered several bumps, scrapes and groundings.
In 1909 she spent the year transporting meat on the inter-Australian/New Zealand routes, arriving back in the U.K. in April 1910, and resuming her South American trade.
On 7th July 1918, when in the English Channel she was targeted by a U-boat, but the torpedo missed.
In 1919 the old ship was sold to Primo Redo Forner of Valencia and renamed Austina Forner for use in their fruit trades, which she plied until laid up in 1925, and broken up at Barcelona two years later.
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