Unit History: Sir William Reardon Smith and Sons
William Reardon Smith and Sons shipping company was established in Cardiff in 1905 by William Reardon Smith, originally from Appledore in North Devon. After a lucrative sailing career, Smith bought his first ship, the ‘City of Cardiff’, in 1905. Smith’s ships transported coal, and by 1914 the company owned 9 tramp steamers. Losses were suffered during World War I were soon replaced. Eight ships from Pyman Brothers, London were acquired in 1917 and twelve more in 1919. By 1922 the company operated 39 ships. After World War I, Smith was created a baronet for his services in the war. The company, in response to the dwindling South Wales coal trade, began a cargo service to the United States in 1928, which lasted for nine years. This was the same year that the company changed its name to Reardon Smith Line Ltd. Smith died in 1935 and control of the company went to his son Sir Willie Reardon Smith. The Reardon Smith Line lost 20 ships during World War II, but commenced their services after the war was over with their remaining 20. In 1964 Reardon Smith Line bought its first bulk carrier, the ‘Australian City’. The company’s fleet continued to expand until 1977, and in 1985 the company ceased its trading activities, however it still existed several years afterwards as a shipping management company.