Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Clarification on the Tunsin

My musings on the old Tunsin Road in Shanghai and the origin of its name (see previous post) actually did result in some useful additional help. First a quick correction – it wasn’t John Swire who came up to Shanghai but his son.


Swire did have a ship called Tunsin which was originally owned by a company called George Barnet & Co. of Shanghai - Tunsin was their Hong name meaning that the street may have been named after the Hong rather than the vessel – this is actually more likely as several other streets in Shanghai were named after Hong names – Jinkee Road (now Dianchi Lu) after the Hong name of Gibb, Livingstone (their building on the road is left) and Chaoufoong Road (now Gaoyang Lu) after the Hong name of Jenner Hogg & Co.

I’m very grateful to Charlotte Bleasdale who works with Swire’s Group Public Affairs Department that maintains their archives for also telling me that the Tunsin was built in London, supposedly as a blockade runner for use in the American Civil War, but was purchased half-built by Barnets, arriving in Shanghai in May 1864 and placed in service on the Yangtze. In March 1867 the Tunsin was sold to F.A. Groom, for a Chinese syndicate, managed by Glover & Co. In July 1867 she was transferred to Union S.N.Co. (Glovers also managers) and in 1873 sold to CNCo. In 1885, CNCo converted the ship to a hulk for use as a landing stage at Swatow (Shantou - left).


All this talk of blockade running certainly gives the ship a slightly more romantic history. Seems that mystery is now solved.

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