In 1891, William Hope Hodgson runs away from home to go to sea. It is not the first time he has tried this.
This time, however, instead of being returned home, William’s uncle (Reverend Thomas Lumsdon Brown) intercedes on his behalf with William’s father, Samual Hodgson. We do not know the nature of the conversation but the result is clear. On August 28th, WHH is apprenticed to the firm of Shaw & Savill and joins the Merchant Marine.
WHH would serve as an apprentice for Shaw & Savill for four years. It was during that time that WHH experienced the worst of his time at sea, suffering sadistic second mates and frequent brutalities. Eventually this would result in the development of WHH’s interest in body building which would follow him through the rest of his life.
But what of Shaw & Savill? What is their history?
After a little research, I learned that Shaw & Savill were actually one of the major shipping companies in England for many years. They began in 1858, when Robert Shaw and Walter Savill left Willis, Gann & Co. to form their own shipbroker company. Their primary focus at this time appears to have been shipping between the U.K. and New Zealand. Although beginning with mostly sailing ships, they eventually switched over to steam. At the time, their largest competitor was another shipping line named Albion also operating out of the U.K. In 1873, the New Zealand Shipping Company was formed by NZ settlers and provided yet more competition for Shaw & Savill.
Eventually, Shaw & Savill merged with Albion in 1883. The new company, known as SSA, would survive two World Wars and several mergers until 1985 when it was bought by Hong Kong shipowner C Y Tung as part of the Furness Withy Shipping line. The reorganization of the assets would finally bring SSA to an end and it ceased to be a separate company.
More information on Shaw & Savill can be found by visiting these excellent websites: