White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900
One of the romances of the colonial shipping trade is the rise of that powerful company the Shaw, Savill and Albion which now sends to New Zealand some of the finest steamers afloat, and there are many people in New Zealand to-day that remember when the whole fleet did not amount in tonnage to anything like one single steamer of the splendid passenger fleet the company now employs in the trade. The company has consistently kept up its connection with New Zealand, and its history is specially interesting from the fact that the company pioneered in the industry that practically made the Dominion—the frozen meat industry. It was this company that fitted up the first sailing vessel—away back in 1882—with refrigerating machinery and successfully inaugurated the industry that has since grown to such vast dimensions. This first cargo was carried for the N.Z. and Australian Land Co., which started the industry in New Zealand as far as the shore part of it was concerned.
Up to about 1858 most of the sailing ships that were dispatched from the Old Country to New Zealand were run by Willis Gann and Co., the Black Ball Line, the White Star Co., and other private firms. In the office of Willis Gann and Co. there was a young shipping clerk named Saville—the "e" has since been dropped—who must have had grit or wonderful foresight, for he threw up his billet and decided to go into the shipping business in partnership with a Mr. Shaw, who it is believed was also a former employee of Willis Gann and Co. The firm was known as the Shaw, Saville Company, and in 1859 set about chartering vessels for the New Zealand trade.
It must be confessed that many of the ships that flew the house flag of the new firm were anything but clippers, in fact more than one early New Zealander would remember them as "old tubs." Many of them were out of date, had very poor accommodation and were painfully slow. But the company has more than made amends for its early shortcomings. Some of the first charterings of the firm were the Wyndham, Ocean Home, Vicuna, Albert William, General, Bombay, Helenslee, Edwin Fox, Bebington, and Mallard.