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History - Page 3

Cory’s war effort

With the outbreak of the Second World War the Company again threw its weight behind the national war effort.

As in WW1, Cory was involved in the maintenance of coal supplies at all costs, ships were placed immediately at the government’s disposal, and offices on shore were used for government work.

At Charlton, where ‘men only’ had previously been the rule, women took up jobs as painters, turners and store keepers, whilst at Erith barges were converted for the defence of the Normandy beaches.

A total of 13 Cory ships were lost during the War and more than 40 of Cory’s marine personnel received decorations.

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From the 50s, to the 70s

Between 1948 and 1958, Cory had modernised its coal and oil distribution operations, and had grown to include almost 100 wholly owned subsidiaries.

Throughout the post war years, Cory's shipbuilding business prospered, with the barge works producing more than 400 barges between 1962 and 1972. The Company had full order books for its various distribution businesses and tonnage and exports increased.

With the advent of the domestic central heating market, there was a far greater demand for oil and by 1972 Cory was distributing annually 216 million gallons of oil. The traditional involvement in distribution was also diversified at this time. A new company offshoot, Cory Distribution Services, was formed.

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A new challenge

1972 saw the most important merger in the Company's history, when the Ocean Group, an international shipping and distribution company, acquired W.M. Cory & Son. Many of Cory's operations were complementary to those of Ocean, but there were others, which presented new challenges.

At this time, the rapid growth of container shipping and the closure of the upriver docks started a decline in the traditional London lighterage business. But this in turn brought its own opportunities, and the Company continued to prosper.

In 1979 Cory bought Thames and General Lighterage, which made it by far the largest carrier of waste on the River Thames. The waste was transported to another of Cory's acquisitions, the sand and gravel quarry that Cory now owned at Mucking, Essex.

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