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Home> About Us> History

History - Page 2

Pre-1914
A growing business

Modernisation and consolidation of equipment was an important feature in the years between 1896 and 1914. The tug and barge fleet was improved, and Charlton barge works was enlarged. The Company also led the way in the social housing schemes of the day, with new houses being built for the 'coalies' who worked on the derricks. These houses enjoyed the luxury of inside bathrooms and sheltered play areas for children on the estate.

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1914-1918
The Cory’s

With the outbreak of war in 1914, things changed considerably for Cory. The Company’s coal distribution activities were considered to be of national importance to the war effort and consequently most of its tugs were transferred to the Royal Navy.

Before conscription was introduced, the Company encouraged its employees to volunteer for the armed forces, guaranteeing to keep their jobs open for them. As a result, by September 1914 a complete regiment had been raised from Cory staff. This was the D Company, 6th Battalion of The Buffs, who were commonly known as the Cory’s.

In spite of the war, Cory expanded its operation steadily at home and abroad. In 1918 a further business, R & JH Rea, was purchased. This added a fleet of steamers, tugs and barges, plant and coaling machines at Southampton and Bristol. At the end of the war Cory had an immediate need to repair the fleet, but also a desire to re-establish the company’s progress, which had been interrupted.

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1920-1930s
Expanding business

In 1920, a further acquisition was made - the Mercantile Lighterage Co Ltd, which increased Cory's fleet considerably. Eight years later the Ipswich firm of Mellonie and Goulder became incorporated in WM Cory and Son, as did various other companies around the UK.

Coal remained Cory's main business, but the Company started to attach greater importance to its rubbish trade operation. One suggestion, which had to be put on hold when the Second World War commenced, was for the design and manufacture of barges tailor-made for the transportation of household waste. These plans were not implemented until 1956, when the Charlton barge works built the first of these barges.

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