12 January 2016

James Corrall - Coal Merchant

Judy Middleton  (1982 revised 2012)

The first mention of James Corrall, coal merchant, appeared in the Brighton Directory for 1856, although he had already been described as such in the Shipping Register of 1852. A tradition that was still current in the firm of Corralls in the 1980s was that he started out as a coal merchant earlier than this, combining the business with that of being a greengrocer.

During Corrall’s lifetime the method of importing coal to Brighton changed dramatically. The old way, with which Corrall must have been familiar, was to beach the collier directly on to the seashore. The drawing depicts such a collier ready for unloading. The specially rigged spar between the masts can be seen clearly. Attached to this spar the rope and pulley was used to haul up a basket full of coal from the hold to the deck where it was tipped down one of three shutes, erected over the side and into the horse-drawn cart waiting below.
copyright © J.Middleton
Coal brig unloading on the beach

The coal was removed at top speed because the vessel needed to be unloaded, ballasted and off the beach within the space of one tide. The operation was always hazardous since this part of the coast offered no protection and a sudden change in the wind direction could spell disaster for a collier. In fact so many vessels were wreaked in this way that it led to a marked increase in insurance cover. But once the Brighton to Shoreham railway was constructed in 1840, there was no longer any necessity to take such risks. Colliers could safely off-load their coal at Shoreham Harbour and despatch it to Brighton by rail.

Coal at Brighton was not a cheap commodity and the Government plus the Brighton Commissioners made it cost even more. In the early 19th century people paid a Government tax of 6/- a chaldron of sea-borne coal; a chaldron being an old coal measure and the equivalent of 25 ½ cwt. In 1830 it was said ministers were considering the removal of the tax because the ‘distress of the labouring classes of Southern England was very great’. This sentiment was particularly relevant because there had been such a severe winter in 1830.

The Brighton Commissioners, on the other hand, found the coal tax such a useful source of revenue that it was not abolished until 1887. It was introduced in 1773 at sixpence a chaldron on all coal brought into the town and the proceeds were used to build groynes on the seafront. In 1810 the maximum duty was increased to 3/- and naturally enough commercial undertakings tried to evade such a levy. For this reason when the Brighton Gas Light and Coke Company built their gasworks in 1818-1819, they chose a site at Black Rock, safely outside Brighton’s boundaries.

In 1882 the two local gas companies amalgamated and a new gasworks was built at Portslade on a site between the canal and the sea. This gasworks produced 364 million cubic feet of gas in 1880. In 1889 a major row broke out about the cost of gas, which many Brighton councillors thought the Gas Company kept artificially high. In reply the Company trotted out the old excuse that coal was more expensive at Brighton than elsewhere. However, it was a fact that the Company enjoyed huge profits and also that gas was more expensive and gave out a weaker light than in other places, such as Leicester for instance.

This then was the economic backcloth against which James Corrall built up his business as a coal merchant with his main office being at 40 Queen’s Road, Brighton. It was a career he later expanded into ship-owning. He became one of the largest ship-share owners in the Shoreham Registers, second in importance only to the redoubtable Robert Horne Penney. To modern readers, the idea of owning ships might seem quite exotic but in Corrall’s day it was as practical for a seaside merchant to have an interest in ships, as today’s large firm would own lorries. It was also the case that being a part-owner was less of a risk than full ownership, and out of the 34 ships with which Corrall was associated he only owned three vessels outright.

Corrall’s ship-owning career followed the usual pattern – that is shares in second-hand tonnage progressing to shares in newly built vessels. Four of the ships in which he had shares were built at Prince Edward Island, Canada, which at that time was regarded as the cheaper end of the market. But Corrall also supported Sussex ship-builders but whether this was by accident or design it is impossible to know. Out of 34 ships, 22 were built in Sussex. A further breakdown of the figures is Shoreham 13, Kingston 4, Climping 3 and Littlehampton 2.

Corrall’s ship-owning career began in 1852 when he purchased shares in the 134-ton brig Medway. She was already 23 years old and was built at Monkwearmouth, Durham. Corrall owned an equal number of shares in the Medway with two other Brighton coal merchants – Edward Staff Prior and Alfred Staff Prior. This arrangement lasted for three years and then ES Prior moved to London and set up there as a coal merchant, buying the Medway outright from the other two. In that same year of 1855 the Medway was lost.

Corrall’s next ship was Brenda and she was less elderly and larger than the Medway. It was also one of the vessels Corral owned outright, although not for long because after a couple of years he sold half his shares to ES Prior. In fact Edward Staff Prior figures largely in these first ships for he and Corrall were part-owners of the Andrews, a 160-ton brig, the Naylor, a 140-ton brig, and the Attwood, a 207-ton brig. These three ships plus the Brenda were all registered in 1853.
copyright © J.Middleton
A Shoreham built coal brig of the 1850s
similar to the ones in which James Corrall had shares.

There was a lull of three years before the Alma was registered in 1857. She was a newly built Shoreham vessel, a two-masted brig of 218 tons with a hold 13 feet in depth. Corrall also had some new ship-share colleagues. One of these was Thomas Gates, a Shoreham ship-owner, and together they shared shipping interests from 1857 until Corrall died in 1871. They had shares in 25 different vessels. Each registered ship was recognised as having 64 shares and the majority of shares held by Corrall and Gates were in sixteen 64ths – or in other words, a quarter each of the total ship shares. The high point in their association was 1864 when five ships were registered.

Ships in which James Corrall and Thomas Gates owned shares and year of registry

1857 Alma brig 218 tons
1859 Union barque 273 tons
1861 Volunteer brig 262 tons
1861 Marsdon brig 233 tons
1862 Heroine brig 261 tons
1863 Alexandra brig 239 tons
1863 Wild Dayrell schooner 308 tons
1864 Erminia barque 253 tons
1864 Sea Spray brig 295 tons
1864 Wild Wave brig 278 tons
1864 Ocean Queen brig 289 tons
1864 Eliza brig 264 tons
1865 Sea Nymph brig 289 tons
1865 Queen brig 288 tons
1865 Niagara brig 291 tons
1865 Ontario brig 242 tons
1866 Brenda brig 290 tons
1867 Chieftan brig 289 tons
1867 Neptune brig 289 tons
1867 Robin Hood brig 297 tons
1868 Viceroy barque 360 tons
1868 Sultan brig 291 tons
1868 Emperor brig 295 tons
1870 Ensign barque 236 tons
1870 Wave Queen barque 324 tons


The Heroine of 261 tons was built at Shoreham in 1860 and in June 1862 Corrall and Gates purchased shares in her. Earlier that same year the Heroine was almost wrecked when she ran aground near Spurn Point while making for the Humber. The crew were obliged to spend an uncomfortable night clinging to the rigging until they were rescued by lifeboat the following morning. The ship was towed off and repaired. Corrall and Gates each had 16 shares in the Heroine but it was Thomas Gates who was the managing owner.

In 1863 John Clarke aged 32 was master of the Heroine and he sailed with a 9-man crew. The ship sailed from Shields to Messina and on Christmas Eve one of those fatalities occurred, which were all too common on sailing vessels. Donald Cameron went aloft to loose the main top-gallant sail when he missed his footing and fell overboard. A high sea was running and the ship was sailing fast. In these conditions it was impossible to manoeuvre quickly and return to the spot where the accident had happened and Cameron was presumed drowned.

In January 1864 the Heroine was at Jamaica and the master was having a spot of bother with William Brendon, one of the crew. There were six separate entries in the ship’s Log recording he was unable to fulfil his duties because he was drunk. He was described as being troubled with delerium tremens and having a ‘wild, haggard appearance’. In Jamaica they were unable to stop him going ashore and so for his own safety a warrant was issued to hold him in the local gaol until the ship was ready to set sail. On 29th March 1864 Brendon was found dead in the cookhouse. The Log entry reads ‘at 5pm read the Burial Service and committed his Body to the Deep, as regards his effects, had scarce anything, not worth keeping, so hove them overboard’. John Clarke, master, the mate and two passengers signed this Log entry.

Between 1866 and 1870 the Heroine was employed in the coasting trade, presumably as a collier, sailing between Shoreham, Swansea, London, Shields, etc. In 1871 she was working between Swansea and Cherbourg. In 1872 the Heroine sailed from Newcastle to Cronstadt. Joseph Atherford, the mate, from Shoreham, became ill and was taken ashore to the British Seamen’s Hospital at Cronstadt where he died of cholera. While sailing in the Gulf of Finland, the crew took the precaution of throwing all his clothes overboard, including the ones he was wearing when he was taken ill. They were well weighted down with stones.
From Pike & Ivimy's Brighton Directory 1877

In 1873 the Heroine was back in the coasting trade while in 1875 she was carrying timber from the Baltic. On 2nd November 1875 while berthed at Aldrington Basin the vessel was partially destroyed when a fire broke out on board. The accident necessitated a Board of Trade Enquiry at Shoreham to determine whether the master of the vessel had the right to leave the ship during unloading. The master had his certificate suspended until the matter was decided – he was also the brother of part-owner Captain Cheesman. Corrall had died in 1871 but Thomas Gates was still connected with the ship and indeed at the enquiry he was described as the principal underwriter of the vessel.

The Board of Enquiry consisted of Major Bridger and RA Bridger (magistrates) Commander H Forster RN and Captain William Curling (nautical assessors). Mr Nye appeared for the Board and Mr Stuckey represented the underwriters. John Sharpe, apprentice, described how he lit a fire in the cabin and left two customs officers sitting by it when he left the ship. The rest of the crew were already ashore. It seems it was the practice for customs personnel to keep an eye on a ship whose crew were ashore. Later on Henry Jenman, the night watchman employed by the merchants of Aldrington Quay, noticed sparks coming from the ship. It was not clear how the fire had managed to gain such a hold, or whether the damage would have been so severe had someone been on board to raise the alarm earlier. Thomas Gates stated he knew the vessel well and the hole through which the funnel went was cased with double sheet iron. The verdict was that no blame could be attached to the owners or the master and the latter’s certificate was returned. 


In 1863 Corrall and Gates purchased the Wild Dayrell. Like the Eliza, purchased the following year, they owned the vessel in equal parts. The Wild Dayrell was built at Shoreham in 1856 and named after the horse that won the Derby in 1855. James Britton Balley was the ship-builder responsible for her construction and he continued to own shares in her until his death in 1863. Originally she was a 3-masted schooner – an early example of the rig in this part of the world. But in 1860 the rig was altered to that of a barque. In 1863, the same year in which Balley died, and three days before the Wild Dayrell changed hands, the certificate of registry was mysteriously burned according to the declaration of George Hedgecock, master of the vessel at least until the end of 1864.

The Wild Dayrell was employed as a coasting collier with occasional ventures further afield such as to Alexandria in 1864 and 1866, and to Stockholm in 1874, 1876 and 1879. The number of crew seems to have fluctuated because in 1864 there were only six plus the master, whereas in 1871 there were fourteen. In 1877 a note appears in the ship’s articles stating the crew must work ‘ballast and all cargoes’.

Sometimes the ship would take on crew in foreign ports of call. For example, in May 1876 whilst at Stockholm, Fredrik Hedberg was engaged as an apprentice for four years on board the Wild Dayrell. The documents were signed under the watchful eye of the British Consul who ensured that the boy and his father were content with the arrangement. The pay was to be £8 for the first year, £9 for the second, £10 for the third and £13 for the fourth and final year. In 1879, also at Stockholm, William Lindtrom was engaged as an ordinary seaman with wages of £2-5-0d a month. In 1885 the Wild Dayrell was sold to Norwegian owners.


In 1864 Corrall purchased shares in no less than eight vessels. As we have seen, five of these were linked with Thomas Gates but Corrall owned two outright. They were the Ida and the Circassian. The Ida was built in Canada in 1857 and was a brigantine of 199 tons. Henry Mitchell of Adur Terrace, Southwick, was her master. She was a typical coasting vessel. For instance in 1864 and 1865 she sailed between Plymouth. Hartlepool, London and Shields, and during the first seven months of 1866 she sailed between Poole, Swansea, Dover, Newport, London, Shields, Shoreham, Sunderland and Portsmouth. By 1868 the Ida had extended her ports of call to the other side of the Channel calling at Honfleur and St Malo. The crew at this stage consisted of master, mate, cook, five able-bodied seamen and six ordinary seamen. On 20th December 1868 the Ida was run down in the Channel but fortunately all the crew were saved. A note from the master records he lost all his effects including the register and other documents.

The other ship Corrall owned outright was the Circassian, nineteen years old and a snow of 196 tons. She too was employed in the coastal trade and her itinerary for 1864 was Swansea, Deptford, Hartlepool, Shoreham, Hartlepool, Deptford, Sunderland, Shoreham and Swansea, the vessel carrying alternately a cargo of coal or ballast between ports. In 1867 the Circassian sailed between Elbe and Brest, and in 1868 she exported coal from Swansea to Le Havre. In 1871 she visited Hamburg and in 1873 Cherbourg. Also in 1873 it appears from the ship’s Log that apprentice George Dennis stole the captain’s boots and clothes belonging to John Bowles. The boy ran away but was caught and sentenced to four months of hard labour at Lewes Gaol.

Daniel Brazier was master of the Circassian from 1864 and continued in the post all the time Corrall owned the ship. A year after his death, the Circassian was sold in 1872. By this time she was 37 years old, which was ancient even for a collier. She earned a doubtful distinction by appearing in Plimsoll’s Black List of un-seaworthy ships and was labelled as such in 1873. However, the Circassian continued to work for her new owners Thomas Gates and Thomas Bushby Gates of Shoreham and the latter even took out a mortgage at 6% on his 32 shares. The poor old Circassian lasted another ten years. On 27th October 1882 she set sail from Shields and was believed to have been lost off Yarmouth.

Judged by the standards of the time James Corrall was not being particularly unethical by continuing to make use of the venerable Circassian when perhaps she should have been despatched to the breaker’s yard. It was quite a common practice then for colliers to be old and somewhat leaky as they hugged the coast on their way from coal ports. Speed was unimportant since the cargo was not perishable and neither did it matter if some water leaked into the hold as the coal would not be harmed. There were of course good profits to be made from such voyages.

The men who sailed in such colliers needed to be a hardy race as the conditions were atrocious. For example, even with oiled tent covers, their bedding was liable to be permanently damp. Sir Walter Runciman wrote about a voyage in such a collier in stormy weather. She ‘shivered and shook as though she were falling to pieces. Her forecastle deck used to open and shut like bellows, and every plunge and roll she took gave the impression that she was splitting in two’.


In 1868 three ships appear in the Shoreham Registers one after the other. They were the Viceroy, Sultan and Emperor. They were all newly built ships and embellished with a male figurehead. Corrall and Gates owned shares in all three.     

The Viceroy was a barque of 360 tons and she was built at Climping. She was a deep-sea trader and sailed to the Mediterranean in 1868 and 1869, the West Indies in 1870 and 1872, Taganrog in 1871 and South America in 1874. Her crew suffered their share of hardships; one was left at Alexandria in 1868 suffering from dysentery and in 1869 an ordinary seaman was taken to hospital suffering from ‘vinereal Disease’ (sic), which cost the master £1. On 29th January 1871 at Trinidad the mate and three seamen were coming alongside ship in a longboat when a sudden gust of wind caused the boat to fill with water and sink. The mate and two of the men were rescued but George Davison was lost. His effects were auctioned off and the total amounting to £5-10-3d was no doubt despatched to his family back home.

In 1869 the Viceroy was slightly damaged in a collision. The entry in the ship’s log reads as follows. ‘1st March 7.30pm while hove to off Folkestone, strange sail bore down and carried away our jib-boom and fore Royal Mast but no damage to hull. Allowed moon to rise before running back to the Downs’. The Downs was the name given to a well-known anchorage inside the Goodwin Sands. However, the Viceroy was a short-lived ship because on 23rd December 1875 she passed St Helena and was never heard of again.

The Sultan was built at Kingston and she was a brig of 291 tons. John Kemp was the master and he was formerly aboard the Wild Wave, in which Corrall owned 21 shares. Kemp remained master of the Sultan for four years. In 1871 he had problems with his crew. It began in February at Porthcawl when the ship’s crew received orders to proceed to sea but three of them were found to be ‘incapable and intoxicated’. The offenders were hauled before Bridgend magistrates and one was sentenced to two months of hard labour while the others were given one month of hard labour. As if this were not enough for one voyage, another seaman Daniel Brown was ‘drunk and incapable from Monday 21 April to 27’. When the Sultan reached Constantinople, Brown was sentenced to a month of hard labour and he was discharged with no balance of wages due to him. The British Consul there confirmed the sentence.

During five years of trading, the Sultan was employed mainly in voyages to the Mediterranean calling at Alexandria and Constantinople. For example, in 1872 she sailed to Constantinople with a cargo of coal. During this voyage and within the space of eight days two of her crew were injured. One was walking down the forecastle when he tripped and broke an arm, while the other fell from the fore-yard whilst stowing the foresail and broke a leg; another crewman was ill with dysentery.

In 1874 the Sultan sailed from Halifax with a cargo of grain, a crew of nine and Thomas Davis, a new master. It was he who wrote in the Log a graphic account of a dreadful hurricane they encountered. At the time Davis was an experienced seaman aged 31 years. He had been at sea since the age of twelve, and for the previous nine years he had worked as a master in the foreign trade. He had seen storms in the Gulf of Mexico, at Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope and ‘have been on beam ends before and did not cut mast as when the Sultan’s were cut one at a time’. Nobody on board had seen anything like it before and all the time the compasses were ‘flying round and round, almost impossible to tell how her head was, barometer all of a tremble, visibly oscillating’.

An attempt to break the sea and keep her head up was made by putting a towline with spar attached over the bow. Some stanchions, the bulwark and main rail were washed away. The pump was kept going all the time but the vessel was shipping too much water for it to have much effect. In fact the ship was so low in the water that first the fore-topmast was cut, then the maintop and then the foremast. Davis firmly believed that had the ship not been so strongly built, she would have foundered long ago. As it was the Sultan managed to survive the first storm and all hands were on deck clearing the rigging away and manning the pump.

Then the second storm began to increase in strength and there seemed no other course but to abandon ship. Fortunately the barque Herzog Ernst of Bremen was standing by. But Davis did not take the decision to abandon ship lightly – in fact he wanted to stay aboard and the mate offered to keep him company and either save the Sultan or sink with her. The crew begged him to leave and asserted it was Providence that sent a foreign ship to save them. As the gale increased, Davis realised he had a duty to save the crew and consented to leave; they were grateful to the German captain for remaining in the offing.

The Sultan was abandoned in lat. 43 15 N long. 40 9 N but not before Davis careful to the last had removed his books, charts, instruments and a borrowed chronometer. Davis must have felt the need to justify his action by writing so fully in the Log but he underplayed the severity of the situation by recording he acted on his own responsibility ‘in rather a trying position’. He added the comment ‘I recommend all grain ships of whatever tonnage to carry no less than one third cargo in bags’, which sounds as though the cargo had shifted.

The third of the imposingly named trio was the Emperor, a brig of of 295 tons built at Shoreham. Unfortunately, she continued with the tally of accidents associated with the Viceroy and Sultan. For instance on her maiden voyage, William Young, master (formerly aboard the Heroine, was left behind sick at Constantinople, crewman Benjamin Griffiths died of fever, and Henry Bailey, cook, fell overboard and drowned. The latter was an odd accident because at the time the Emperor was lying at anchor and it was an afternoon in July. The unfortunate man ‘was suppous (sic) to have gon (sic) in the head to do a stool fell over Board’. A boat was launched to no avail. In 1872 the Emperor sailed from Cardiff with a cargo of coal. Whilst unloading it at Port Said, George Payne, mate, ‘fell from a plank on deck into the hold and was severely injured’. He was taken to hospital where he died. One crewman deserted at Odessa in 1869 and another at Cardiff in 1872. At least the vessel was not lost at sea while Corrall and Gates held shares in her. She was sold and re-registered in London in 1873.

In fact Corrall was not too unlucky with his ships as out of the 34 in which he owned shares only eight of them are known to have been lost at sea; out of these four were lost within a span of fifteen years and the other four in the years following his death.


Although Corrall’s firm was Brighton based, Corrall lived in his latter years in a house called Reedens, which was situated north of Chailey and west of Newick. It was much more than a house, being an estate of around 200 acres including farms and cottages. The drawing room at Reedens measured 26 feet 6 inches x 14 feet 6 inches and this did not include the bay window. The dining room although a little smaller boasted two bay windows. But perhaps the most pleasant room in the house was the morning room, which had two glazed doors leading to a tiled verandah and a nearby conservatory. There were five bedrooms on the first floor and the second floor contained three good-sized rooms providing ample space for six maid-servants.

copyright © J.Middleton
The house itself was well swathed in ivy of which the Victorians were so fond and a turret completed the romantic idyll. Undulating lawns and flowerbeds surrounded the house and there were ‘two charming ornamental fish ponds’. But judging by the expanse of water, a small lake might have been a more accurate description. There were fruit trees, a kitchen garden, and the stabling included two loose boxes, three stalls, a harness room and a loft.

It was at Reedens that Corrall died in 1871 at the early age of 49. His will was dated the previous day and he left everything ‘unto my dear wife Mary absolutely’. He revoked any other wills and this new will must have caused consternation in the family because someone contested it. At the foot of the document is written ‘on the 12 March 1874 the Judge in his final Decree in a cause entitled Corrall v Corrall pronounced for the force and validity of this Will’. Unfortunately, it proved impossible to follow up this lead. A letter to the Lord Chancellor’s department brought forth the information that the Public Record Office selects only 7% of Contentious Probate cases for permanent preservation and Corrall v Corrall was not included in that number. A ledger at the principal Registry of the Family Division records that the papers for the Corrall case were forwarded to a London court in 1873.
Extract from the Will of James Corrall, dated 16 October 1871

Thus Mary Corrall found herself in receipt of her late husband’s estate, the value of which was stated to be in the region of £30,000 plus leaseholds. It also meant she became the largest female ship-share owner in the Shoreham Registers. Female ship-owners were few and far between in the locality, principally of course because married women did not have the right to own shares or anything else for that matter until the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870.

Whatever the reasons behind the contested will Mary Corrall seemed confident of the outcome because she did not wait until the official decision in 1874 before selling some of her ship-shares. In 1872 she sold shares in Wild Wave and the ancient Circassian, which she owned outright. In 1873 she sold shares in Hero and Emperor, followed in 1874 by Sea Nympth, Robin Hood, Neptune and Brenda in 1879. But she seems to have held on to her shares in Wild Dayrell.

The coal side of Corrall’s business also claimed Mary’s attention. Less than six months after his death, Mary entered into an agreement on 1st April 1872 with two other coal merchants to carry on the business under the banner of Corrall & Co. The contract between them was to last for seven years and they all had equal shares and equal profits. The two men in question were Daniel Hollyman and Thomas Paul Cattley.

Corrall’s main office was at 40 Queen’s Road, Brighton. The firm seems to have been quite shy about advertising in the local directories and as far as can be ascertained there was only one and that appeared in Pike & Ivimy’s Directory for 1877 when the firm was described as colliery agents as well as coal merchants. On the other hand, other coal merchants such as Banfield took out regular adverts.

In 1872 Corrall’s also had offices at Brighton Railway Station and at Prince Albert Street and there were branch offices, agencies, yards or wharves at Brighton, Hove, Penge, Norwood Junction, Leatherhead and Forest Hill.
Extract from a document listing Corrall's liabilities in 1879

Corrall’s had a number of railway wagons that the firm was buying under the ‘hiring system’. But these had not been paid for by 1872. It is not clear exactly how many wagons the firm had altogether but in 1877 Corrall’s entered into an agreement with GR Turner of Langley Mill, near Nottingham, to repair as often as necessary 240 railway wagons numbered from 201-440 for the sum of £3-7-6d per wagon a year. It is evident that top quality materials were to be used. For example, it was stipulated that timber used for sole bars, cross-bars or head-stocks must be best English oak and where deals were used they had to be best red. Likewise any necessary new tyres were to be of best steel and not less than two inches thick in the centre of the tread and the general ironwork must be guaranteed too. As a finishing touch Corrall’s wagons were to be given two coats of best red paint and re-lettered.

In 1877 Mary Corrall was being cautious in her dealings with her business partners. She obviously did not want to sign fresh agreements extending beyond the seven years of the agreed partnership. One reason for this attitude may well be because on 4th August 1875 Mary married William Henry Hallett. The Halletts were brewers at Brighton and they ran the Steam Brewery at Kemp Town. At one time the family owned the adjacent Bristol Hotel, which WH Hallett’s father had built and in 1850 it was leased to Samuel Bacon.

Mary’s new husband was probably a wealthy man in his own right. At any rate in 1882 he advanced £2,080 to George Cook, junior, in order that houses might be built on 32 plots of land in Brighton that Hallett owned called Whitehawk Road. However, Mary had grown used to handling her own financial affairs and she stipulated she wanted an income completely separate from Hallett. He was also a prominent man in local affairs and was Mayor of Brighton three times – in 1866-1867, 1867-1868 and 1881-1882. He had interests in a variety of fields including electric lighting, decimal currency, Brighton School of Art, the 1st Sussex Rifles and for twenty years he was chairman of the Sewers Board.

In 1879 the seven years of Corrall & Co’s partnership ended and TP Cattley bought out his two partners; Stephenson Clarke & Co guaranteed the transaction. Strangely enough although the three partners were supposed to have equal shares, Mary received more money than Beaumont. Mary’s share was put at £5,600 while Beaumont received £4,850. Mary was paid half the amount (that is £2,800) in cash immediately, then another portion after nine months and the remainder after eighteen months. Beaumont was paid in a likewise manner. One stipulation of the changeover was that Cattley was allowed to use the name and style of Corrall & Co but he was not permitted to call the firm James Corrall & Co. Mary was not allowed to start up a new coal business within a certain radius of Brighton.
Signatures from the document mentioned above :-
Stephenson Clarke Co.,  Mary Hallett,
Thomas P. Cattley,  D.H. Beaumont

WH Hallett died on 4th January 1892. The Sewers Board suspended their next meeting as a mark of respect. He left everything to Mary and it appears there were no children from either of Mary’s marriages. Mary continued to live at Reedens for a number of years but in September 1917 the estate was sold. Mary did not die until the 1920s.

Meanwhile, the firm of Corrall’s continued to flourish. One of their most interesting contracts was to supply coal to Brighton Generating Station in North Road from June 1893 to June 1894 at 18/11d per ton. The municipal concern was then in its infancy since power had only been officially switched on in September 1891. Corrall’s were to supply coal from South Wales. Unfortunately, two months into the contract a strike in the Welsh coalfields disrupted supplies. Corrall’s then had to write and explain why they were unable to supply Welsh coal as specified but they would be pleased to quote a price for any other steam coal. This letter is mentioned in the Minutes of the Lighting Committee 21st August 1893 and it is interesting because it indicates how little coal Corrall’s had stock-piled. The strike in question began on 4th August and by the following day the main Rhondda pits were idle. There was some conflict on 21st August and 1,000 soldiers were despatched to the valleys. . However, by the end of August the strike was over and the pits resumed work. In July 1894 there was a further difficulty with Brighton Corporation when there was an alleged short-weight in the coal supplied by Corrall’s. The next year (1895) the Corporation decided to accept the tender of rival coal firm Banfield & Co.

We have already seen how Stephenson Clarke guaranteed Cattley when he bought out his two partners; Stephenson Clarke became even more closely interested in Corrall’s when CBO Clarke injected a great deal of capital into the firm at the turn of the century. On 24th February 1917 Corrall’s was incorporated into a limited company with CBO Clarke as the first chairman. In 1940 the firm was brought into the Stephenson Clarke / Powell Duffryn network but the name of Corrall was still retained. In the present day there is still a Corrall’s coal depot at Hove Goods Yard in Sackville Road, Hove, next to the railway. They advertise under the banner ‘Corralls for Coal’.
copyright © D.Sharp
'Corralls for Coal' depot, October 2012


1) Date of registry at Shoreham
2) Name and type of vessel
3) Gross tonnage
4) Where and when built
5) Number of shares owned by Corrall shown in brackets

1852 Medway brig 134 tons built Monkwearmouth 1829 (22) sold 1855 lost 1855
1853 Brenda brig 185 tons built Plymouth 1834 (64) sold Sunderland 1864
1853 Andrews brig 160 tons foreign built (32) sold Ireland 1854
1853 Naylor brig 140 tons built Paul, Yorkshire 1815 (32)
1853 Attwood brig 207 tons built Prince Edward Island, Canada 1850 sold     
                        Ardrossan 1862
1857 Alma brig 218 tons built Shoreham 1857 (16) abandoned Bristol Channel 1877
1858 Hero brig 230 tons built Shoreham 1858 (48) sold 1873
1859 Union barque 273 tons built Prince Edward Island, Canada 1857 sold
                         South Shields 1866
1861 Volunteer brig 262 tons built Shoreham 1861 (21) abandoned North Sea 1872
1861 Marsdon brig 233 tons built Prince Edward Island, Canada 1855 (16) sold
                          Sunderland 1864
1862 Heroine brig 261 tons built Shoreham 1860 (16) partially destroyed by fire
                          Aldrington Basin 1875
1863 Alexandra brig 239 tons built Climping 1863 (16)
1863 Wild Dayrell schooner 308 tons built Shoreham 1856 (32)
1864 Pioneer brig 270 tons built Shoreham 1864 (16) wrecked 1888
1864 Ermina barque 253 tons built Nova Scotia 1854 (16) sold 1868
1864 Sea Spray brig 295 tons built Kingston 1864 (16) lost 1867
1864 Wild Wave brig 278 tons built Shoreham 1864 (21) sold 1872
1864 Ocean Queen brig 289 tons built Littlehampton 1864 (16) sold 1878
1864 Ida brigantine 199 tons built Nova Scotia 1857 (64) lost 1868
1864 Eliza brig 264 tons built Prince Edward Island, Canada 1857 (32)
                           stranded off Whitburn 1878
1864 Circassian brig 167 tons built Ipswich 1835 sold 1872
1865 Sea Nymph brig 289 tons built Shoreham 1865 (16) sold 1874
1865 Queen brig 288 tons built Southampton 1865 (16)
1865 Niagara brig built Shoreham 1865 (16)
1865 Ontario brig 242 tons built Littlehampton 1865 (16) wrecked at Margate 1870
1866 Brenda brig 290 tons built Kingston 1865 (16) sold Melbourne 1879
1867 Chieftan brig 289 tons built Shoreham 1867 (16)
1867 Neptune brig 289 tons built Kingston 1867 (16) sold 1874
1867 Robin Hood brig 297 tons built Shoreham 1867 (16) sold 1874
1868 Viceroy barque 360 tons built Climping 1868 (16) lost 1875
1868 Sultan brig 291 tons built Kingston (21) lost 1874
1869 Emperor brig 295 tons built Shoreham 1868 (16) sold London 1873
1870 Ensign barque 236 tons built Shoreham 1870 (20) sold 1878
1879 Wave Queen barque 324 tons built Climping 1870 (16) sold 1878


West Sussex Record Office

Ship’s Logs, crew lists and other documents as follows
SR 166 Heroine
SR 203 Ida
SR 151 Circassian
SR 308 Viceroy
SR 309 Sultan
SR 310 Emperor

Shoreham Shipping Registers. Details of registry, ownership, tonnage etc. I studied these at HM Customs & Excise, Southwick 1979-1980. Since then the Registers dating from 1825-1880 have been transferred to the West Sussex Record Office

East Sussex Record Office

R/C 16 Minutes of the Brighton Lighting Committee 1893 1894
HOW/60 HOW/66 Documents relating to Corrall & Co, partnership, list of liabilities, documents relating to Reedens including estate map and illustrated book produced for the 1917 auction, documents relating to the Hallett family

Copyright © J.Middleton 2012
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