Searchroom visit: tramp and bulk shipping with the Runciman collection

Professor and Mrs Boyce in the Searchroom

This week we welcomed back to our searchroom Professor Gordon Boyce and his wife Evelyn, from the Business Faculty of the University of Newcastle, Australia.

The Boyces have been visiting GUAS, from across the globe, for many years with Professor Boyce first visiting in the early 80’s to carry out his PhD Research into the Furness Withy Group, a shipping conglomeration.

This time round, they are researching a new project for which they have made an annual pilgrimage here for the last three years. This area of study is Tramp and Bulk shipping: certain types of cargo ships that sailed the oceans of the world, facilitating international trade.

The term ‘Tramp’ ships is used to identify cargo ships that are not operated on regular lines and there has not yet been a comprehensive overview on the subject. Professor Boyce is going to fill the gap using the original documents from Archive collections in Glamorgan Archives, Greenwich Maritime Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, the University of Hull, and, of course, our collection here at Glasgow University Archive Services.

The main areas the Boyces are interested in include the changes in commodities traded, financial performances of the firms, and what happened to the firms during the World Wars. In summary, they wish to track the changes that can be seen from the 1870s through to the 1970s in British firms practising this sort of trade.

Voyage records for the ships 'S.S. Middlemoor' and the 'S.S. Northmoor' (UGD255/3/17/6)- (photograph courtesy of Evelyn Boyce)

From our archive, they are mainly researching the Runciman collection (UGD 255). Sir Walter Runciman ran a British shipping firm throughout the 19th century and Professor Boyce has been finding out valuable information from the likes of letter books, minutes, voyage records, and agreements.

According to Sir Runciman:

“The surest way to make profits in the Tramp trade is to have your ship in the right place (that is, where there is a lot of cargo to be carried), at the right time (that is, when there are very few other ships available to carry it)…”

(p71 “Tramp Ship Design: An Owner’s Views and Requirements” a conference paper by W.L. Runciman M.A. GUAS Ref: UGD255/2/31/6)

Their findings will be published in a book and we wish the pair the best of luck with the rest of their research and hope to catch up with them again next year.

"Some instructions to Masters" (UGD255/2/17/2)

Categories: Archive Services

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