"From Coastal Sail to Global Shipping"

The Club has just published a book that tracks its growth from a small mutual club insuring the last of the coastal sailing ships to today’s position as a global insurer.

While many of today’s P&I clubs can trace their history back to the nineteenth century, Steamship Mutual’s origins were at the turn of the twentieth century. The Club was established in 1909 by two Gloucester shipowners, Charles Nurse and Alexander Johns, together with six other men including a London based shipbroker, Lionel Sage.

Centenary Book Small

The book looks at why the Club was set up and traces its development through two world wars to today. In the 1930s it had become more and more involved in the declining coastal trade, but a change of direction under a newly appointed manager, Sydney Crowe, propelled Steamship into the blue water trades. After the Second World War, the pace of internationalisation accelerated with Italian, German, Indian and Brazilian shipowners joining the Club.

The book deals with the people, such as managers, shipowners and brokers, who influenced the Club’s progress as it developed. It looks at the changing nature of claims, from small cases of general average to major environmental claims, and the challenges for the club as it grew in size and diversity. The book is based on the Club’s archives but interviews with past employees and shipowners add plenty of anecdotal material to the potentially dry minutes. Chance encounters played an important part in the book’s progress, with an unexpected meeting in Bermuda which led to information on the 1930s Club and another lucky break leading to an archive relating to an early club member from 1910.

Over one hundred illustrations were tracked down to show the people and ships of all kinds. These include a ship entered before the First World War that was already 100 years old when it was insured, to pictures that show the more complex modern world of shipping.

Dr. Helen Doe
Dr. Helen Doe

The book was researched and written by Dr Helen Doe of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies at the University of Exeter. Dr Doe is a historian who specialises in maritime business history, having had an international career in marketing before joining Exeter.

To obtain a copy of the book (free to Club Members) please contact:

Linda McDonald
Steamship Insurance Management Services Limited
Tel: 020 7650 6649 (direct)
Email: linda.mcdonald@simsl.com 

Centenary Book Reviewed - June 2010

The centenary book was reviewed by Robert G. Greenhill in Volume XXII, Number 1 (June 2010) of the International Journal of Maritime History. Click here to read the review.