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Bowring Timeline

East Coast Panorama - J. P Andriuex
The Bowring Story - David Keir

1811 The Bowring Group of Companies was founded when Benjamin Bowring, a watch maker from Exter, arrived at St. John's to examine the possibilities of setting up a business.
1815 By establishing mercantile connections in St. John's he opened a small store on Duckworth Street. He sold a variety of goods, soap, clothing and cutlery as well as importing other merchandise.
1823 He became the owner of three schooners used in the import and export trade.
1830's & 1840's Bowring business in Newfoundland and England expanded largely due to the cod and seal oil trade. Charles Tricks invested in ships and men, he also built a seal-oil vat in St. John's.
1830 Benjamin decided to establish a link between St. John's and England. He established a business in England enabling him to control the European end of the import/export business of his firm.
1834 Benjamin and his family left St. John's for his European office where he could control the exports required for his Newfoundland operations. His eldest son Charles Tricks remained in St. John's. He invested much of his attention to the sealing industry of Newfoundland.
1840 - 1870 Important expansion period for the company. Sealing, exporting seal products and the outfitting of fisherman and exporting fishery products were important aspects of the business.
1840's & 1850's C.T. Bowring and Company built a small fleet of tramp vessels.
1841 Charles Tricks returned to England where he assumed managerial control of the Liverpool branch from his now elderly father. Charles' sons Harry and Edward became involved with operations.
1849 The firm of Bowring Brothers became agents of the Liverpool, London and Globe Insurance Company Limited.
1850's Edward and Harry returned to England to retire. Benjamin's youngest son assumed managerial responsibilities.
1855 The firm along with C.T. Bowring operated 6 tramp vessels.
1869 The firm of Bowring Brothers became agents also of the Lloyd’s Insurance Company.
1870's The firm acquired the Newfoundland Government's contract for coastal steamers.
Early 1900's The England business was expanded by Charles Tricks, he renamed it the C.T. Bowring and Company, Limited.
1884 The Bowrings realized that there was an urgent need for a regular steamer service between St. John's, Halifax and New York. From this came the the New York/ Newfoundland and Halifax Steamship Company. Lines of Shakespearian vintage vessels were also created. Popularly known as the Red Cross Line
Mid 1880's to 1890's The first ships were built. The first, Miranda followed by Portia.
1885 The first steamship of the company, the Miranda put a record time of a 10 day 8 hour round trip form New York to St. John's.
1886 Edgar Bowring was made a full partner in the business.
1890 Charles Tricks passes away, Edgar Bowring becomes managing director and senior resident partner of the company in Newfoundland.
1894 Miranda hit a submerged reef on the southwest coast of Greenland at Disko Island. She was simply abandoned.
1899 The Portia was wrecked in fog in July on Big Shoal while on her way to St. John's.
1900's Bowring Brothers Limited incorporated iron - hulled ships to the seal hunt.
1906 John Munn, Edgar's stepson, becomes director of Bowring Brothers.
1909 The Bowring Brothers commision the Florizel from C.O. Connel's shipyard, Scotland. Flagship of the Red Cross Line also used seasonally for sealing. The vessel accounted for 200,000 seals in eight years. Eight of the sealing vessels that year were also Bowring owned.
1907 Sir William Bowring in Liverpool was made a baronet in Liverpool. He reciprocated the honour by handing over the Roby Hall estate Park, as a recreation ground to commemorate almost a half-a-century's service to the City Council by his father and himself.
1910 The Florizel had 49,000 seals caught, an all time record for both number and weight.
1911 The ship Stephano was acquired by the company and served the same purpose as the Florizel. The Bowring Brothers also landscaped a 20.5 ha (50 acres) piece of land in St. John's west and opened it the same year as a public to mark their centennial celebrations.
1912 The Stephano joined the seal fleet.
1914 War World One Began in August.

Sealing disaster of the S.S Newfoundland, the Ranger, Florizel, Eagle (11) and Stephano aided in the rescue.

Most of the Bowring fleet were requisitioned by the government for war service. Bowring's ships the Hermione, Silvia, Rosalind, Pola and Huelva were used.
1915 Charles Warren Bowring was aboard the Lusitania when it was attacked by a German U- boat 15 miles off the coast of Ireland. After four hours spent in a boat picking up survivors he was rescued by a naval auxiliary.

In London the war had reduced the office staff therefore women filled in many clerical jobs.

Trade routes of Bowring ships were made known, making them easy German prey. This year the Silvia, Cymbeline and Mora (of Bell Island) were sunk by the enemy.

October: Sir Thomas Bowring, well respected in the industry at large especially in the oil industry, dies.
1916 Sir William Bowring recives mixed news, the Florizel caught a great amount in the hunt yet her sister ship Stephano was sunk by a U-Boat torpedo near Nantucket. Although they were insured against war risks, Nantucket was a neutral zone. It was a great loss for the Red Cross Line.

Sir William Bowring passed away.
1917 In Liverpool the war had brought about a congestion of ships to the area. Sea risks caused many regular services to be cancelled. Further confusion was caused by a dock strike through labour troubles.
1918 The Florizel disaster. The losses were severe for the Bowring Company.

John Shannon Munn, his daughter Betty Munn and their nurse were lost.

Munn was the adoptive son of Sir Edgar R. Bowring who was the managing director of Bowring Brothers, his daughter was four.

Many friends and employees were lost.

Valued Ship cargo lost.

The strength of the Red Cross Line dwindled.

November 11: End of war

Two thirds of the Bowring fleet's tonnage had gone, and human losses of the company cause them to lay new shipping paths.
1921 Roby Hall estate was given to the Municipal Council of St. John’s and renamed 'Bowring Park'.
1925 August 29: Sir Edgar Bowring erected on "Children's Day" a Peter Pan bronze memorial statue in memory of his granddaughter, Betty Munn in Bowring Park. Sir Edgar dedicated it to the children of Newfoundland, in memory of a dear little girl who loved the park.
1943 June 23: Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring died in London, England at the age of 84.
Post 1949 The Bowrings put much more emphasis on retailing.
1965 A new department store opened on Water Street.
1980's There were over 60 Bowring Brother retail locations in Newfoundland.
1980 Bowring Brothers was one of 160 subsidiary companies controlled by C.T. Bowring and Company Limited.

*The Bowring business is no longer in operation in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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