News from 1931: The end of Corinthic

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Times, 10 December 1931

While the liner Corinthic was discharging her final cargo in the Royal
Albert Dock yesterday, Sir Thomas Wilford, High Commissioner for New
Zealand, ceremonially lowered the ship's house flag for the last time
before the vessel leaves for the Tyne to be broken up. The sale of the
ship was announced in The Times on October 13.

Officials of the Shaw Savill and Albion Company joined the captain,
officers and crew on the saloon deck for the ceremony. As a preliminary,
children from East Ham schools sang an improvised valedictory, "Farewell
to the Corinthic," which recounted the history of the ship, to the tune
of "Tipperary" and the ship's bugler sounded Retreat. When the flag was
being slowly hauled down cheers were given for the old pioneer of the
New Zealand butter fleet, and as it touched deck the company sang the
National Anthem. In the speeches that followed tributes were paid to the
long service of the ship in the line and as troopship during the Great
War, and it was announced that her complete freedom from mishap had
earned her the proud title of being the "luckiest ship in the world."

Later, in the saloon, SIR THOMAS WILFORD proposed the toast of "Ships of
the Empire," and added that, if Empire trade were given, the
encouragement that the temper of the home country demanded to-day, it
would not be long before the ships now lying idle in British ports and
tidal inlets were brought into use with cargoes on both outward and
homeward voyages. With the encouragement of the British Government and
the help of the British people New Zealanders hoped to see such an
increase in the demand for Empire goods that their farmers would be able
enormously to increase their purchases of British manufactures.

Since the fall in the value of sterling, SIR THOMAS WILFORD said, he had
kept in close contact with New Zealand producers to find out whether it
was likely to have an effect on the prices of New Zealand foodstuffs. If
the evidence of the past weeks might be accepted as prophetic of future
tendencies, he could say emphatically that there was not the slightest
occasion to fear any abnormal or unjustifiable rise in prices of New
Zealand butter, cheese, and lamb, either by reason of the growing
voluntary demand of the public for home and Empire goods or because of
any action which might be contemplated by the British Government for the
encouragement of home and Empire agriculture.

Mr. JOHN MACMILLAN, general manager of the Shaw Savill and Albion
Company, regretted that the Corinthic was leaving the line while her
hull and engines were still good for some years of service, but the fall
in third-class passenger traffic due to the stoppage of emigration, the
drop in the number of second and first class passengers, and the growing
maintenance cost of the ship as she advanced in age brought about the
decision to scrap the vessel. In due time, when trade improved, new
ships would be built.

CAPTAIN FRANK HART, of Liverpool, for 18 years captain of the ship, and
CAPTAIN H. BOWAN, the present commander, also spoke.

Last edited:

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
A day or so late, but...

The Times, 13 October 1931


During the week-end two famous British liners which have served their owners
well have been sold for breaking-up in British yards. These are the
Demosthenes and the Corinthic, 20 and 29 years old respectively. The
Demosthenes is of 11,223 tons gross, built in 1911, and she has been owned
by the Aberdeen Line of George Thompson and Co., Limited, and employed in
its service between London and Australia. She was the first ocean liner to
enter the King George V Dock after it had been opened by the King in Lord
Incheape's yacht Rover. The Corinthic is of 12,367 tons gross, built in
1902, and has been employed since then in the London-New Zealand service
maintained jointly by Shaw Savill and Albion Company, Limited, and the White
Star Line. The two vessels were built by Harland and Wolff and have been
very popular ships with passengers in their regular services. Both vessels
did fine work throughout the War.

For some time the Demosthenes has been laid up in Rothesay Bay, and she is
understood to have been now sold to a firm of ship-breakers on the
North-East Coast for £9,250. An especially noteworthy feature of the
transactions is that the Corinthic is still in service. She arrived at
Wellington, N.Z., on September 23 and is expected to sail again shortly for
this country. She has been sold for delivery three months hence for £10,250,
which is a price comparable with that paid for the smaller Demosthenes,
although the latter is available for immediate delivery.

The buying of the Corinthic on similar terms for delivery three months hence
is attributed in shipping quarters to the expectation that duties will be
placed on imported steel. Consequently the anticipation is that there will
be a better demand for British scrap metal. The breaking up of liners gives
employment to a large number of men, including those engaged in inland
transport. In due course coal will be needed for the conversion of the scrap
metal into fresh material. Employment will be given to the men manufacturing
the articles, and there will again be transport of the finished goods.
Possibly some portion of the scrap material will be employed in the
construction of modern ships. Clearly there is a great gain of employment in
the breaking up of these ships instead of allowing one to continue to lie
idle and the other to be destined to be laid up. Breaking up in British
yards is the most satisfactory close to the careers of vessels which have
conferred credit on themselves and their owners.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Times, 22 October 1931


WELLINGTON, Oct. 21---"Farewell, New Zealand, and thank you." This was the
last signal sent by the steamer Corinthic in reply to the good-bye signals
from the shore as she steamed out of Wellington on her final voyage to
England before going to the ship-breakers. "We don't know who has bought the
Corinthic," said one of the officers before sailing, "but they will make a
fortune out of her. She was built before the days of veneer, and her solid
oak fittings are as good as when they were fitted."
The Corinthic, of 12,367 tons gross, is one of the oldest ships on the New
Zealand service, having been built for the White Star Line in 1902. She is
well known to hundreds of New Zealanders, many of whom first saw the shores
of England from her decks. During the War she was used as a
The announcement of the sale of the Corinthic for breaking-up after her
return to this country was made in The Times of October 13.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Evening Post, Wellington, 21 October 1931
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,
Papers Past


Except that there were a few more people than usual present for an early
morning sailing, there was little to show that the occasion was in any way
unusual when the Shaw, Savill, and Albion liner Corinthic pulled out from
the Glasgow Wharf shortly after 7 o'clock this morning for her last trip
Home from New Zealand. The harbourmaster, Captain J. Spence, was on the
bridge as pilot, and thus paid his last respects to a popular liner which,
practically in the prime of her seagoing life, is to be handed over to
shipbreakers and dismantled.

The Corinthic had soon steamed down the harbour and disappeared out through
the Heads, but she was not yet out of touch with New Zealand. While passing
Island Bay she dipped her flag three times to Mr. W. Prince, of the local
office of the Shaw, Savill, and Albion Company, who watched her from the
hills, and later there was a final exchanges of messages between the
watchkeeper at Beacon Hill and the departing liner. In the international
code signals the following message was displayed from the signal station:
"Farewell from New Zealand." The Corinthic replied: "Farewell, and thank
you." The watch-keeper dipped his ensign three times, and at 8.45 a.m. the
ship was lost to view around Baring Head.


"We don't know who has bought this ship, but whoever it is will make a
fortune out of her," said one of the Corinthic's officers yesterday to a
"Post" reporter, on the eve of the old favourite's last departure from New
Zealand. The officer recalled that the price was in the vicinity of £10,000,
and said that one had only to take a walk through the ship to see the
quality of her fittings to realise the value that was in her. "They didn't
use veneer in the days when they built the Corinthic," he said, "and most of
her fittings are as good as the day they were installed."

Although her following was possibly not quite as large, the passing of the
Corinthic has occasioned almost as much regret as when the Mararoa was
scuttled outside the Wellington Heads early this year. During her final
visit to Wellington dozens of people took a stroll along the wharves to take
a last look at the ship, and many also went on board. Some of these were
souvenir hunters, and a blank space .in the officers' sitting-room yesterday
revealed where a picture had been removed. The officers raised no objection
to the souvenirs being taken as they realised that if they were taken back
Home they might fall into hands which would treasure them much less.

Two interesting framings which are of particular value to some who have been
connected with the ship, either as passengers or officers, were a collection
of sketches of personalities among the officers on a trip in 1907, done by
one of the passengers, and a picture of the Corinthic at sea with the
portraits of the officers winging aloft on albatross wings.


The officers on the Corinthic were surprised at the amount of interest that
is taken in the ship by New Zealanders. Wherever they have gone on the
present trip they have been met by people who have lamented the passing of
what is recognised to be still a fine ship, offering exceptionally
comfortable facilities for "cabin class" travel. An officer said that it was
not only in the seaports that this was so, as he had found the same interest
on visiting friends in the country.


It is to be feared that when the ship is paid off many of her present crew
will go to swell the ranks of unemployed mariners in the Old Country.
Throughout the slump the White Star Company has treated its officers
generously, and whether they are ashore or afloat they are kept on full pay,
but the lot of many others of the ship's personnel will be unenviable,

The scuttling of ships is much more common in New Zealand and Australia than
it is in Europe, where greater facilities are offering for their being
broken up. In some countries, Italy for example, shipbreaking has become
quite a trade, and it is possible that it will be into the hands of foreign
shipbreakers that the Corinthic will pass.


Due hugely to the fact that the present is about the worst period of the
year for seasonal passenger traffic between New Zealand and England, there
were only two cabin class passengers aboard when the Corinthic sailed this
morning. They are Miss R. M. C. Rowlands and Miss M. Smith. There are 50
third class passengers, among whom is Captain E. H. Willson, formerly of the
tug Terawhiti, who will be disembarking at Pitcairn Island.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Evening Post, Wellington, 14 October 1931
Retrieved from the National Library of New Zealand web site,
Papers Past

On her arrival at Wellington from Southampton on 23rd September, it was
freely rumoured that the well-known Shaw, Savill, and Albion liner Corinthic
was on her last trip to the Dominion. Nothing was known officially until
to-day, when a cable message from London advised that she had been sold for
£10,250 for breaking up, and that a familiar Australian trader, the
Demosthenes, was meeting a similar fate.

The news will be received with regret throughout New Zealand, not only by
all those who are sorry to see the life of a good ship end, but also by the
many who were brought to this country by the Corinthic, or have travelled by
her on a visit to the Old Country. For nearly 29 years the Corinthic has
maintained a regular connection between New Zealand and England, making more
than 70 voyages, and incidentally travelling over one and a half million
miles, with scarcely an untoward incident. The value of such a ship's career
cannot be reckoned in the terms of the length of her "obituary" notice; it
lies in the memories of the many thousands of passengers she has carried. Of
recent years, newer, faster, and more modernly-appointed liners have been
placed in the London-New Zealand service, and now take the cream of the
passenger trade. To anyone who went through the long corridors of unused
cabins at the completion of her last trip, it was evident that her prestige
as one of the premier passenger ships of the Home run was a thing of the


The Corinthic first arrived at Wellington from London, via Cape Town and
Hobart, on 6th January, 1903, when she attracted the notice from the public
that has since been given to the "Rangi" motor liners of the New Zealand
Shipping Company, and other vessels, that have arrived to place the
Corinthic further and further in the background.

As was the case with the Rangitiki, Rangitane, and Rangitata, and the Orari,
Opawa, and Otaio, the Corinthic was one of three vessels ordered about the
same time, her sister ships being the Athenic---sold in 1928 to Norwegian
buyers, converted into a whaling ship, and re-named the Pelagos---and the
Ionic, the end of which is also rumoured to be in sight. They were built at
Belfast for the White Star Line by Messrs. Harland and Wolff, Ltd., the
Athenic in 1901, and the other two in the following year. They ran under the
control of the Shaw, Savill, and Albion Line, flying the house flags of both
companies. The Corinthic was among the first ships to be fitted throughout
with electricity.

The master of the Corinthic on her maiden voyage was Captain Inman Sealby.
She has since been commanded by Captain Hugh David---later commander of the
Olympic, and Captain Frank Hart, who relinquished command of her about three
years ago after being on the bridge for 19 years. Captain H. Bowen is at
present in command.


The Corinthic's career has been a most uneventful one, and even the war
failed to bring her trouble, although she carried thousands of soldiers, not
only from New Zealand, but also from the United States, to Europe. If there
is anything in the tradition of a ship's name it certainly appears that a
new Corinthic would carry in its name an omen of good fortune.

The quality of the workmanship and materials put into the Corinthic by her
builders has stood the test of time wonderfully well, and it is probable
that if it were not for the severely depressed state of the shipping market,
she would still have many years of usefulness before her. She has a gross
tonnage of 12,343, and her principal dimensions are:---Length, 500 ft;
breadth, 63ft; depth, 45ft. She originally provided accommodation for 100
first-class, 100 second-class, and 200 third-class passengers, but two or
three years ago she was changed to a two-class ship.

The Corinthic is due at Wellington to-morrow to complete her outward loading
programme, and is to sail finally next Tuesday for London.


The Demosthenes, which realised £9520, has had a much shorter career than
the Corinthic, and has been withdrawn from commission for some time, but is
almost as well .known to Australians as the Corinthic is to New Zealanders.
She also gave service as a troopship during the war. She was also built at
Belfast by Messrs. Harland and Wolff, being turned out to the order of
George Thomson and Co., Aberdeen. For the last few years she has been one of
the Aberdeen-Commonwealth Line. With a gross tonnage of 11,223, she is very
similar in size to the Corinthic, her measurements being: Length, 500 ft;
breadth, 62.3 ft; depth, 39.4ft.


Similar threads

Similar threads