Shipping Movements in the Ports of the United Kingdom, 1871-1913

Article excerpt

David J. Starkey (ed.), Shipping Movements in the Ports of the United Kingdom, 1871-1913: a statistical profile, University of Exeter Press, Exeter (1999), 396 pp., 45.00.

The heart of this book is a huge set of tables. They demonstrate the level of activity of the British shipping industry in the later nineteenth century. There are two types of table. The first gives, for each customs port of the UK, in alphabetical order, the registered tonnage of arriving and departing vessels, broken down by the part of the world they came from, or were going to. Some words of explanation may be needed. First, customs ports are stretches of coast rather than a particular town or village, and so small harbours may not have a separate entry but are incorporated into a nearby larger port. Secondly, the tonnage figures are not of cargo carried or even of cargo-carrying capacity but the registered tonnage of the ships. Thirdly, the origins and destinations of ships are not specific countries but broad geographical regions such as northern Europe or South America. The tables give the figures for every fifth year from 1871 to 1906 inclusive. In addition there are aggregate tables giving the total tonnage for the three separate constituents of the United Kingdom (England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland) and for the kingdom as a whole.

The second set of tables record ship movements in each customs port in the UK for every year of the period 1873-1913. They state the number of ships, and their registered tonnage, entering and departing from each customs port, showing the foreign and coastal trades separately, and distinguishing those ships with cargo and the total of those with cargo and in ballast, so by subtraction the statistics of empty ships can be calculated. In addition, for every fifth year from 1876 to 1911, steamship numbers and tonnage are distinguished from sailing ships, so that the differential spread of steam technology in different ports can be monitored. There are also tables of the total number and tonnage of ships for each of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, for the UK as a whole and also for the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, though there is no coastal trade for the last-named as they were deemed not to engage in it. …