Shepstone Whaling Company?

posted in: InfoRequests 5

Ian Hart has written in to ask for our help. He writes:

“I am researching the activities of a Swedish man, Charles O. Johnson, who became one half of the firm Irvin & Johnson, Cape Town. Johnson started whaling from the Durban/Natal area in 1912, and soon after took an interest in The Shepstone Whaling & Fishing Co. which was apparently started by a group of Norwegians from Port Shepstone. I am trying to find out where the Shepstone company’s whaling station was located and hope you can help. There is one report that Johnson started at The Bluff, Durban, but may have moved on to Port Shepstone.”

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5 Responses

  1. Mark Billingham
    | Reply

    Hi Ian,
    Take a look at this site it gives a lot of information on the company, https://marinewildlifemagazine.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/waaygat-whaling-station-at-stony-point/. I dont believe that any
    whaling was done at Port Shepstone but have a feeling that the old whaling station at Rocky bay, Park Rynie, may have belonged to them.

  2. Allan Jackson
    | Reply

    I have since heard from Ian who says that Johnson moved the whaling operation to the Western Cape but that the Shepstone Whaling Company did start in Natal. Anyone know where?

  3. Mark Billingham
    | Reply

    Hi Allan,
    The answer is Durban. Below is an extract from the site that I posted above

    2. The Shepstone Whaling & Fishing Company
    The assets of Southern Cross Whaling were bought by the Shepstone Whaling & Fishing Co. The plan was fully operational by March 1916 and they landed their first whale catches in 1916 in Durban. The company owned a fleet of three steam powered whaling boats and employed 144 people which had increased to 220 by the end of 1917. By now the fleet had increased to 6 steam vessels, some of which might have been whale catchers and some were cargo vessels for transporting whale products to Cape Town. The whale catches of the three whaling vessels Frey, Eao and the Mossel was managed by Mr G.D.Irvin, managing director of Messrs Irvin & Johnson, the Cape Town agent for the company.

  4. Mark Billingham
    | Reply

    It is most likely that the company was founded by the Norwegian community who had settled at Marburg, Port Sheptone, to start a fishing industry out of the Umzimkulu river. This was not too successful because of the difficulty of crossing the sandbar at the mouth of the river. Maybe somebody at http://norsettler.co.za/index.htm , would be able to help with further information but I am almost certain that no whaling took place at Port Shepstone.

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