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The Fleets

Cairn Line / Cairns, Noble & Co.

Formed in 1883 by Cairns and Noble, Newcastle, the company initially operated tramp ships, mainly to the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Baltic. In 1908, after several years of association with William Thomson and combining their services to Canada, the two companies merged to form Cairn-Thomson Line. Thomson Line operated passenger services between the Mediterranean and New York and a service from Southampton to Canada was later added. However, the three passenger liners were sold to Cunard Line in 1911. Thereafter, Cairn-Thomson Line carried only a maximum of 12 passengers, the limit for which a doctor did not have to be carried on board. After the Great War, the company virtually abandoned tramping and concentrated on trans Atlantic operations. In 1928 the company's Newcastle and Leith trade to Canada was purchased by Furness, Withy & Co., but some cargo liners continued to operate independently, although services were co-ordinated with Furness, Withy to avoid wasteful competition. The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 enabled the company's ships to sail direct to Toronto, Detroit, Duluth, Milwaukee and Chicago. In 1969 the last three cargo liners were transferred to other Furness, Withy companies and then sold on to foreign buyers. The remaining 85% of shares were purchased by Furness, Withy in 1967, but the name Cairn Line of Steamships was used to register ten small Mediterranean traders until 1983 when the Cairn Line finally disappeared.

Many thanks to Ted Finch for his assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

Routes:

  • 1883           cargo services to Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea.
  • 1908           passenger services Mediterranean - New York.
  • 1908-1911 Southampton - Canada.
    Cargo / passenger services Newcastle - Leith - Canada.

Funnel:
Red funnel with black top, two narrow white bands on red with white triangle between.

Fleet:

Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Bellona 1881 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1912 stranded off Newfoundland, refloated, sold to Canadian owners and 1914 renamed Desola, 1915 destroyed in Halifax explosion. 2,932
Cairnalt 1882 ex- Sarah, 1897 purchased from Harrowing Ltd renamed Cairnalt, 1915 sold to Finland renamed Hera. 1,410
Cairnavon (1) 1892 1904 sunk in collision in Scheldt Estuary. 1,562
Cairnavon (2) 1905 1917 sold to Christian Salvesen & Co. renamed Soutra. 1,591
Cairnavon (3) 1920 ex- Baarn, 1922 purchased from Royal Netherlands Steamship Co. renamed Cairnavon, 1925 wrecked near Buchan Ness Lightship. 5,245
Cairnavon (4) 1941 ex- Empire Snow, 1946 purchased from Ministry of War Transport renamed Cairnavon, 1961 sold to Lebanon renamed Vergolivada. 6,339
Cairnbahn 1883 ex- Trevider, 1898 purchased from Hain SS Co. renamed Cairnbahn, 1913 sold to Sweden renamed Igor. 1,538
Cairncrag 1892 ex- Great Northern, 1897 purchased from Great Northern SS Co., Newcastle renamed Cairncrag, 1909 wrecked on Dover Island, Strait of Canso. 3,022
Cairndhu (1) 1885 1911 sold to Sweden renamed Orsa. 1,368
Cairndhu (2) 1911 1917 torpedoed and sunk off Beachy Head; loss of 12 lives 4,019
Cairndhu (3) 1919 1935 sold to Greece renamed Strymon. 5,250
Cairndhu (4) 1952 1965 chartered to Manchester Liners renamed Manchester Exporter, 1969 sold to Greece renamed Gemini Exporter. 7,503
Cairndon 1893 ex- Phoenix, 1900 purchased from Phoenix SS Co. (Hoyland & Co.). London renamed Cairndon, 1915 sold to Lowlands Steam Shipping Co, Newcastle renamed Lowdale.
2,692
Cairnesk (1) 1888 ex- Knutsford, 1898 purchased renamed Cairnesk, 1899 stranded at Snippan in Baltic, refloated but sank. 2,128
Cairnesk (2) 1889 ex- Leconfield, 1902 purchased renamed Cairnesk, 1911 sold to Sweden renamed Tuva.
2,296
Cairnesk (3) 1926 1956 sold to Italy after 208 round voyages to Canada renamed Zermatt. 5,007
Cairnesk (4) 1959 laid down as Cairnesk, completed for Manchester Liners as Manchester Faith. 4,411
Cairnforth 1958 1965 chartered to Manchester Liners renamed Manchester Freighter, 1969 sold to Royal Mail Line renamed Lombardy. 8,105
Cairnglen (1) 1891 1912 sold to Sweden renamed R. F. Berg. 1,565
Cairnglen (2) 1926 1940 wrecked at Marsden, off River Tyne. 5,019
Cairnglen (3) 1959 laid down as Cairnglen, completed for Manchester Liners as Manchester Fame. 4,412
Cairngowan (1) 1883 1909 sold to Sweden renamed Odensvold. 1,286
Cairngowan (2) 1911 1916 sunk by U-Boat gunfire NW of Fastnet. 4,017
Cairngowan (3) 1919 laid down as War Oriole, completed as Cairngowan, 1935 sold to Bright Navigation Co., London renamed Brightcomet. 5,295
Cairngowan (4) 1952 1965 chartered to Manchester Liners renamed Manchester Engineer, 1966 reverted to Cairngowan, 1969 sold to Cyprus renamed Georgilis. 7,503
Cairnisla 1896 1915 sold to Dixon & Son, Grimsby renamed West Marsh. 1,597
Cairnloch 1895 1918 sold to Capel & Co., Newcastle renamed Capelbay. 1,546
Cairnlyon 1882 ex- Trelyon, 1895 purchased from Hain SS Co. renamed Cairnlyon, 1912 sold to Sweden renamed Elsie. 1,428
Cairnmona (1) 1884 ex- Southwold, 1899 purchased from F. Woods, London renamed Cairnmona, 1911 scrapped. 1,766
Cairnmona (2) 1918 1939 torpedoed and sunk off Peterhead. 4,666
Cairnmore 1892 1913 sold to Norway renamed Nord. 1,627
Cairnnevis 1905 1917 sold to Christian Salvesen & Co. renamed Tolsta. 1,587
Cairnrona 1900 ex- Consuelo, 1908 purchased from Wilson Line renamed Cairnrona, 1911 sold to Cunard renamed Albania. 6,025
Cairnross (1) 1894 1910 wrecked Tangiers. 1,509
Cairnross (2) 1913 1918 torpedoed and sunk off Azores. 4,016
Cairnross (3) 1921 1940 mined and sunk off River Mersey. 5,494
Cairnstrath 1888 ex- Fellbridge, 1901 purchased from Hoggarth & Woodruff, Cardiff renamed Cairnstrath, 1917 sold to Capel & Co., Newcastle. 2,128
Cairntorr (1) 1903 1915 torpedoed and sunk in English Channel. 3,588
Cairntorr (2) 1922 1928 wrecked off Cape Whittle, Labrador. 5,387
Cairnvalona 1918 1952 scrapped after 180 round voyages to Canada. 4,929
Cervona 1896 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1913 wrecked off Cape Race. 3,779
Devona 1896 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1919 sold to Convoy SS Co., Dundee renamed Willkeno. 3,779
Fremona 1887 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1917 torpedoed and sunk off Brittany; loss of 11 lives. 2,922
Gerona 1911 launched for Cairn Line but completed for Cunard as Ascania. 9,111
Hurona 1892 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1919 sold to Charles M. Barnett, Dundee. 3,432
Iona 1892 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1915 torpedoed and sunk off Fair Isle. 3,344
Jacona 1889 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1915 mined and sunk off Troup Head; loss of 29 lives. 2,969
Keroula 1880 1895 purchased from Porteous & Senior, London, 1903 wrecked Oland Island. 1,547
Latona 1893 ex- Warrigal, 1906 purchased from Blue Anchor Line renamed Latona, 1908 transferred from Thomson Line, 1908 sunk in collision off Wolf Rock. 4,338
Scatwell 1911 1919 purchased from W. E. Hinde, Cardiff, 1928 sold to Greece renamed Antonis G. Lemos. 4,425
Tortona 1909 1911 sold to Cunard renamed Ausonia. 7,907
Vespasian 1887 1912 purchased from Parsons Turbine Company, 1913 scrapped. 2,147

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