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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]

Northern Steamship Company, Limited

Northern Steamship Company, Limited, Quay Street, Auckland. Board of Directors, Captain H. J. Anderson (chairman), and Messrs W. S. Wilson, A. H. Nathan, J. R. Gray and M. A. Clark; Mr. Charles Ranson, manager. Prior to 1881 the people of Auckland had no regularly organised well-equipped steam service to connect the numerous ports and coastal districts of the province with the capital. There were a number of boats owned by various private persons, and in their way and day these served the community in a manner calling for considerable thankfulness. But the joint causes of settlement and industry required more extensive, more systematic help, and a businesslike attempt to supply this was made by the syndicate, which afterwards developed into the Northern Steamship Company. A start was made by buying six steamers—namely, the “Argyle,” “McGregor,” “Rowena,” “Douglas,” “Staffa” and “Iona.” The “Wellington,” “Clansman,” “Gairloch” and “Glenelg” were added soon afterwards, but still, in 1888, when Mr. Ranson took the management, only nine steamers were employed by the company, which now (1901) has a fleet of twenty-eight steamers, the aggregate tonnage of which exceeds 5000 tons. In achieving the strong position which it now occupies, the company has had to face many drawbacks and difficulties. From 1881 to 1890, no dividend was paid on the large investment of capital, and even at the end of that period only a modest 21/2 per cent. That, however, was the turning point in the affairs of the company. In 1891, 5 per cent, was declared, from 1892 to 1896, 6 per cent., and since then 7 per cent. page 445 This, though satisfactory, is not a large return on the capital invested, in view of the risks connected with an extensive inter-coastal trade. Still the main point is that the Northern Steamship Company is now an unqualified success. Its large, well-officered, well-manned, well-equipped fleet is one of the institutions of the country; and a tourist taking voyages over the routes its steamers cover would see many of the most interesting and beautiful parts of New Zealand.