Kelly’S Navy: A Group Fleet History Of John Kelly Ltd Of Belfast

This 128-page A4 hardback, which describes a fleet of colliers/general cargo ships run by John Kelly Ltd, starts with a historical overview of the Company’s development from Samuel Kelly’s early ventures into ship owning from 1861 to the establishment of John Kelly Ltd in 1911. Thereafter the author considers the effects of the 1914-18 war, the post-war depression and the General Strike of 1926 and the 1939-45 conflict on the Company. Post-war, the Company faced several major problems including an ageing fleet, a shortage of coal and the potential changeover from the use of coal to oil by Irish customers. On 1st April 1948, control passed out of family hands after 108 years and shareholders received a substantial sum to invest elsewhere, instead of having to raise a considerably larger amount to update their fleet and depots, for what was a doubtful future. Thereafter, the collier fleet gradually declined as oil brought about the demise of this coal-based “empire”. As the seaborne coal trade became evermore limited to supplying coal-fired power stations so the size of colliers increased which limited the number of ports that could be used. The rise of the road network also helped to kill-off coastal shipping and the Company responded by using road transport to distribute oil and coal. In 1987, in association with Ken and Margaret McClelland, the Dragon Line, to ship containerised coal to Northern Ireland, initially smokeless fuel from the South Wales coalfields. So it was that the new generation of Kelly collier would henceforth travel by rail, sea and road door-to-door. In 1990 the surviving four ships of the Kelly Fleet were sold to Powell Duffryn Shipping Ltd, managed by Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd. Although the name Kelly is still seen around Ireland in the 21st Century, it is but a distant memory of the family business and “Kelly’s Navy” in the many ports around the country in the 19th and 20th Century. The bulk of the book is devoted to providing a detailed three-part list of the ships that formed “Kelly’s Navy”. Part One contains a list of Family Fleets surrounding the main fleet. Part Two contains the fleet of John Kelly Ltd and ships managed by John Kelly Ltd and Part Three contains ship-owning subsidiaries of John Kelly Ltd. This volume, which describes over 200 vessels, is completed by three appendices, a ship index and illustrated by 140 B & W photographs.

Authors: W.J. Harvey
ISBN: 978-0-9560769-2-2
Publication Date: 2009
Member’s price: £5+p&p (£3.20 UK, £9.50 EU & Rest of the World)
Non-member’s price: £7.50+p&p (£3.20 UK, £9.50 EU & Rest of the World)

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