Unit History: Glynafon Shipping Co
Of the many shipping companies founded at Cardiff (Glamorgan) during the boom years of 1919-1920, the Graig Shipping Co. is the only one that has survived to the present day. The firm was established in October 1919, by Idwal Williams (1884-1971) with a share capital of ?100,000 in ?1 ordinary shares. It was registered at Cardiff, and its shares were listed on the Cardiff Stock Exchange. The company’s first investment was a First World War tramp steamer, re-named the SS Graig, which was purchased for the sum of ?140,000. The new owner realised that the boom would not last long, and before the freight market slumped in 1920, he fixed the ship on a profitable two-year charter carrying coal from Durban, South Africa, to Kenya. This venture more than covered the capital loss on the vessel when it was finally sold at the end of the charter in 1922. During the 1920s and 1930s, Graig’s business activity continued in the ownership and management of deep-sea steam trampers. In 1945, Graig Shipping raised additional funding through a listing on the London Stock Exchange, for ship investment. At the time, the fleet consisted of seven vessels. In 1951, the firm opened a London office, to maintain an active ship-broking presence with the City’s Baltic Exchange. In 1952, the firm took over the Basra Shipping Co. Ltd of London. Re-named the Glynafon Shipping Co. Ltd., it became a subsidiary of Graig Shipping. During the 1960s, Graig Shipping took advantage of a government shipbuilding credit scheme, and built three ships. 1971 saw the death of Idwal Williams, and he was succeeded as chairman by his son, Desmond Williams, who had first joined the company in 1945. The company began to diversify its interests, acquiring a travel agency, property, and interests in oil exploration, and latterly high technology industries, fuel oil broking, pumice importation, data storage, oil exploration and coal mining. However, shipping has remained the core area of activity. The company is now styled Graig Shipping plc; subsidiary companies active at various times were Idwal Williams and Co., Garth Shipping Co. Ltd and Lisvane Investment Co. Ltd.