Owen Cosby Philipps

Baron Kylsant

Owen Cosby Philipps, Baron Kylsant (1863–1937), shipowner

1863 born in Warminster, Wiltshire, on 25 March, the third son of the vicar, the Revd Sir James Erasmus Philipps, twelfth baronet (1824–1912), and his wife, Mary Margaret Best (d. 1913).

Served apprenticeship with Dent and Co, ship managers and brokers of Newcastle upon Tyne.

1886 joined the Glasgow firm of ship managers and brokers, Allen C. Gow and Co.

1888 started his own firm, Philipps and Co. in Glasgow

1889 Purchased his first ship, King Alfred, in partnership with his brother John. Formed the King Alfred Steam Ship Co Ltd. Later changed the name to King Line.

1896 subsidiary company, the Scottish Steamship Co, was established

1897 He and his brother formed the London Maritime Investment Company

1898 Purchased the London and Thames Haven Petroleum Wharf.

c.1900 Took over the Northern Transport Company, with 3 ships

1901 Started to buy shares in the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, which was in financial difficulties.

1902 Married

1903 Philipps was chairman of the Royal Mail Steam Packet company. William J. Pirrie of Harland and Wolff offered to build modern tonnage for the company at cost price in return for all repair work and subsequent contracts, beginning a 20 year relationship.

1909 Gained a knighthood.

1909 Philipps and Pirie acquired the Elder Dempster group of shipping companies.

1910 Philipps acquired the Pacific Steam Navigation Co.

1911 Acquired the Glen Line and Lamport and Holt Line (together with its subsidiary Liverpool Brazil and River Plate Steam Navigation Company)

1912 Acquired the Union-Castle Line

1913 Acquired the Nelson Line. These acquisitions were financed by large debenture issues. The shipping lines retained their separate identities but Philipps and Pirrie began to treat all the associated companies as an integrated Royal Mail Group.

WWI much of the group's tonnage was requisitioned for service as troopships, hospital ships, colliers, and armed merchant cruisers; about 100 ships were lost.

1916 Acquired Moss Steamship Co and Robert MacAndrew

1917 Acquired Coast Lines and Argentine Steam Navigation Co.

Post War: Philipps and Pirie began to raise new capital, largely to pay for replacement liners.

1920s The recession put the group in difficulties, exacerbated by the many cross-shareholdings.

1923 Raised to the peerage as Baron Kylsant

1924 After Pirrie's death, Philipps became chairman of Harland and Wolff and discovered the extent of that company's financial difficulties.

1927 Acquired the White Star Line for the huge price of £7 million, in order to secure prime liner contracts for the Belfast yard.

1928 Kylsant bought the heavily loss making Australian Commonwealth Line from the Australian Government on a deferred payment basis and placed it under George Thompson’s management as the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line.

1929 the Treasury aimed to impose a reconstruction scheme on what was by far the largest group of enterprises in the United Kingdom. Kylsant was forced out the following May.

1931 the Kylsant shipping group collapsed.

After an extended holiday in South Africa, Kylsant was arrested and tried and found guilty of issuing a false prospectus for which he received one year's imprisonment.

1937 died at Coomb on 5 June. The barony became extinct on his death.

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