The ‘Yew’ Coastal Fleet
The handsome coasters with the blue and black funnels with two central white bands of the Stewart fleet were normally engaged in the Irish Sea trades of coal, stone, iron ore, cement clinker, caustic soda, raw materials for textiles and chemicals, and peat trades. However, according to my coal shipment records from the Tyne and Wear of October 1938, they were also engaged in the East Coast coal trade to London e.g. Yewkyle of Stewarts loaded at the Lambton and Hetton drops on the south bank of the Wear. I also vividly remember in my youth seeing the coasters of this fleet regularly repairing in the two dry docks of the yard of Tyne Dock Engineering next to the South Shields ferry landing. This company should not be confused with the sailing ship fleet of John Stewart & Company of London, which was founded in 1877 and was the last British fleet to own only sailing ships when his barque William Mitchell was broken up in 1928. By 1900, steam had replaced merchant schooners trading in the brick, coal, stone, iron ore, cattle and other coastal cargoes, although some shipowners, notably Everards, clung on to coastal schooners and Thames sailing barges for many years afterwards.
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