Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

William Currie

From Graces Guide

William Crawford Currie (4th May 1884-3rd July 1961)

Sir William Currie, chairman of P & O


1961 Obituary [1]

'We regret to record the death of Sir William Currie, G.B.E., which occured on July 3. William Crawford Currie was born in Calcutta on May 4, 1884, the son of William Currie, who served in the Indian Office of the British India Steam Navigation Company for many years. This early introduction to shipping was to have a profound effect on his later life and, as is well known, he became one of the best-known figures in the shipping world, his many directorships including the position of chairman of his father's old firm.

At an early age, Currie came to England, and was educated at Glasgow Academy, Fettes School and Cambridge University. After leaving Cambridge in 1906 he joined David Strathie, a firm of chartered accountants in Glasgow, and qualified as an accountant four years later. He then returned to India and became an assistant in Mackinnan Mackenzie and Co., managing agents of the British India Steam Navigation Company, becoming a partner in 1918 and senior managing partner in 1922. In India, Currie took an active part in public life, being elected to the Bengal Legislative Council, and serving as Sheriff of Calcultta in 1921-22. Before he left India in 1925 he was appointed Member of the Council of State for India, and received a Knighthood.

Sir William returned to England in 1926, and became partner in Gray, Dawes and Co., the London agents of the British India Steam Navigation Company. In the following year he became a member of the Imperial Shipping Committee, and in 1929 he was elected President of the Chamber of Shipping. Following the death of Lord Inchcape in 1932, Sir William became a director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, advancing later to the position of managing director and, in 1938, chairman.

The P. and O. suffered very server tonnage losses during the war, and it was under the leadership of Sir William that the line and its subsidiaries rebuilt its fleet to become the world's largest shipping company. Sir William was the President of the Institute of Marine Engineers in 1945-46, and Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights in 1949. He was created G.B.E. in 1947 and appointed a Commander of the Legion of Honour of France in 1953. Sir William was not only a director of shipping companies, being on the boards of banking and insurance concerns as well. In public life he became High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1947, and served as a member of the executive committee of the British Red Cross Society.'

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