Dr. Bill O' Gorman, from WIT, speaking about this site on WLR

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Whites

The Whites family were prominent Quaker entrepreneurs in Waterford with extensive shipping business interests in the city. They began trading in O'Connell Street (then King Street) in 1776 selling sugar and groceries. They were soon stocking imported goods such as tea, coffee, spices, sugar, hemp and tar, as the business grew they became ship owners and builders. William White opened the shipyard in Ferrybank in 1820, many of their skilled workers and labours were recruited locally. Between 1820 and 1870 the craftsmen and artisans built over sixty wooden sailing ships.

The work was of such a high quality that the reputation of Whites grew nationally and internationally, leading cross - channel ship owners in Britain including Beasley and Blyth ordered ships.

The quality of the ships was exceptional and by 1830 many ships were being built in White's own dockyard – helping to increase their trading abroad. White's trading was diverse, they often traded with exotic and far flung destinations such as Patagonia, Quebec or Calcutta. Passengers were carried from Waterford to Quebec and Montreal returning with a cargo of timber. Many ships carried passengers across the Atlantic during and after the famine.

White's imported cargo such as coal, timber, sugar, linseed and guano were lucrative, earning the company big profits. The captains of the vessels earned hefty commission on all the cargoes safely delivered, and many build large houses on the Quays, Lombard Street and William Street. William White, the founder of White's Shipyard died in 1834 at age 83. The business passed over to his two sons Albert and George.

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