SS Sapphire (1878).

Shipping Companies we Forgot to Remember should, perhaps, be the title of this correspondence.

Dundee Gem Line Steam Shipping Company Limited is perhaps one of these! Incorporated 17 March 1884, the managers were Messrs P M Duncan & Sons, coal merchants, Dundee. The directors were Messrs P M Duncan, Joseph Lindsay, John Rhind, J G Paton, Angus Macintyre, James Yeaman of Dundee and James McDonald, Perth. The solicitors were Thomas Thornton, Son & Co, 15 Albert Square, Dundee.

I took an interest in the history of Dundee Gem Line after learning that my grandfather, William Anderson Valentine, served on SS Jasper after his apprenticeship in the full rigged ship, City of York, 1869. Further research discovered the 2nd Mate of Jasper was James Fullerton who died in Antwerp on 3 February 1894, father of Captain James Glen Anderson Fullerton of Hikitia fame and an uncle to my grandfather. Steamers owned by the company were; SS Emerald (1878), SS Sapphire (1878), SS Amethyst (1879), SS Beryl (1881), SS Diamond (1881), SS Opal (1881), SS Jasper (1883) and SS Ruby (1883). The ships were very much in the style and the size of many which were built in the days when steam was replacing sail.

SS Jasper, 235 x 31.7 x 22.4, built Dundee, June 1883 by W B Thompson, registered Dundee, official no 863 TT class & 100 AI. Lost 17 April 1894 by grounding in fog 500 yards SE x E of May Island Lighthouse, Firth of Forth, on passage in ballast from Dundee to Burnt Island. Crew 16, Master John Douglas from Johnshaven, north of Montrose and probably, like my grandfather, related to the Andersons and Fullertons.

John Douglas had been Master of Opal from 1881 until joining Jasper on 4 September 1888. The crew members were generally 16-18-year olds. Some of the summer months were, in some years, spent on the Baltic trade, occasionally Norway, even Archangel, Cronstadt or St Petersburg featured from time to time. Captain Douglas’ later career was with Turner Brightman & Co who ran some of the earliest refrigerated ships in the South American trade.

The photograph is of SS Sapphire, a little smaller than SS Jasper. She was built in 1878 in Sunderland of iron, whilst SS Jasper was steel. The image is obviously in the Avon.

Marykirk, Scotland

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