The White Star Line

The White Star Line was purchased by Bruce Ismay's father Thomas Henry Ismay in 1867. Originally founded in around 1850 consisted of a line of sailing vessels mainly engaged in trade centred on Australian gold fields. Until that time Cunard had been virtually unchallenged in the Atlantic Passenger Crossings. Four years later in 1873 the sixth White Star Ship the Baltic, set the eastbound Atlantic speed record. For the next twenty years this company continued to be Cunard's main rival and continually surpassed Cunard despite the fact that in 1873 the White Star Ship Atlantic was wrecked. Each company kept on gaining the edge from each other by introducing the latest technological advances. In 1889 with the launch of the Teutonic and the Majestic), White Star introduced the modern liner, a ship without sails. Soon luxury and size became much more important then just speed. Bruce joined the company as a partner in 1891 and then takes over after his fathers death in 1899.

1902 the company was sold to an American financier J. Pierpont Morgan, who became interested in shipping companies to the large passenger trade that had been growing due to immigration to North America and the large number of wealthy travellers. Bruce Ismay retained Directorship of the company and also was made Chairman and Managing Director. It was with Morgan's money that allowed the dream of the three "Olympic Class" liners to come true.

[Back to Index Page]