"Only an exceptional business will do."
Hypolite Worms, December 1848
First activities of its founder, Hypolite Worms
Hypolite Worms was born on 7 November 1801 in Metz, where his father was a draper. Turned down for military service on the grounds of his short-sightedness in 1821, Hypolite was working at the time as a commercial traveller. 1829 found him in Rouen as a partner in "Worms, Heuzé et Cie", wholesale agents and purveyors of, among other things, manufactured goods and draperies, local cotton prints, and painted fabrics. In 1837, he wound up his business in Rouen and, on 16 August, married Séphora Goudchaux in Nancy. Born in 1818 in Saverne (Alsace), his new bride was from a banking family, established in Nancy under the name of "Fils de Garçon-Jacob Goudchaux", with a branch in Paris where Hippolyte would be employed upon his marriage.
The couple settled in Paris in 1838, at 11, rue Vendôme, in the Marais, where Lucien Worms, the elder of their two children was to enter the world on 3 March 1839. The "Fils de Garçon-Jacob Goudchaux" bank was then wound up, closing its doors on 23 June 1841 only to re-open them on 26 February 1842, H. Worms remaining as a shareholder but no longer as its manager. He maintained an account with his former partners, remaining in correspondence with them over the management of his various transactions. And when Michel Goudchaux, on his appointment to the post of Minister of Finance in the Cavaignac Government, decided in June 1848 to close "les Fils de G.-J. Goudchaux", it was to H. Worms, his nephew by marriage, that he entrusted with the task of winding up the Paris branch.
H. Worms next took up residence at 46, rue Laffitte, where his daughter, Emma Louise, was born on 6 March. He was now free to act in complete independence and, for seven years, before deciding to focus on importing British coal, he dabbled in a variety of businesses.
The first trace of any business correspondence is a letter dated 28 September. It concerned money sent to New Orleans to purchase cotton on behalf of a firm in Le Havre. This was followed by a large number of commodity transactions organised by H. Worms, either on his own account, or for third parties. These transactions were for such things as clover seeds, cast iron (purchased in Britain and delivered to Rouen), a consignment of cereals and barley shipped to Rouen, parcels of fabric sent to New Orleans. In November, H. Worms enlisted an agent "to devote his attention to a pit coal business that (he) was planning to establish at La Villette", and provided him with the necessary means to "make purchases in Belgium under the most favourable possible conditions". These funds were used, in particular, to acquire coal produced by a mine in Sauwarten, Belgium.
H. Worms acquired the Compagnie des Charbonnages de Sauwarten, frequently advancing money to the business. Although the mine had a contract for supplying a major customer that H. Worms had taken over with the company, it failed to achieve a regular turnover. Operations were therefore halted and modernisation work begun (February). Meanwhile, H. Worms organised the storage of cotton bales in Le Havre while awaiting an opportune moment for their sale and sent a shipment of goods of different types to New Orleans. The Sauwarten mining business was to prove disastrous: in April, the mine lost its main customer which only served to exacerbate its losses, and its manager was dismissed. H. Worms still hoped that, by improving production quality, the situation could be saved but two trial shipments to La Villette were to prove the final straw (November). Purchase of one hundred crates of indigo (December).
Dealings in tin and iron ore (January-April), essentially from Belgium, through the intermediary of Édouard Rosseeuw, later to become Hypolite Worms' right-hand man. Purchase of coffee from Java (May). H. Worms acquired shares in the Rouen, Vierzon, Bordeaux, Boulogne, Dieppe to Rouen railway companies (October-December).
H. Worms continued to build up his railway share portfolio by buying into companies such as the Caen, Marseilles to Avignon, Montereau to Troyes, Cologne to Aix-La-Chapelle, Strasbourg and Paris to Lyon railways (January-September). He also planned to invest one million francs in agricultural land in Algeria, through the intermediary of Adolphe Crémieux, and set up an operating company among owners and workers so that the latter would also have an interest in company prosperity (September).
Convinced that plaster had a great future, since it could be used in the two major fields of building and agriculture, H. Worms next bought the Société Plâtrière des Carrières du Centre, a company exploiting one of the three gypsum quarries of the Buttes Chaumont, at the Petite Villette, all of whose products - loose or in bags – were for distribution on the Paris-Bordeaux line. The purchase also included a contract signed with the Chemin de fer d'Orléans (Orleans Railway). H. Worms wasted no time in proposing this company a further contract for 15,000 tonnes to be delivered to Orleans and beyond, thus successfully negotiating a generous discount in the cost of carriage (April-July). On the strength of this exceptional agreement, he rapidly built up his catchment area setting up manned plaster depots in stations such as Orleans, Blois and Amboise, their number increasing as more sections of railway line came into service. On a parallel, he worked on plans to exploit a patent, for Prussia and States dependent on Prussia, in connection with a new coke plant heating system (September), and made attempts to obtain the concession for a lead mine in the Province of Constantine from the Ministry of War (December).
Plaster depots were gradually established in Bourges, Rouen, Le Havre and Dieppe... As he moved further towards the Norman ports, H. Worms turned his thoughts to exporting to England or even America (December).
Permission given by the Compagnie d’Orléans et du Centre to open depots in the stations of Étampes, Tours and Vierzon (January), followed by Châteauroux (February).
Revolution in Paris (23-25 February): end of the July Monarchy (abdication of Louis-Philippe,
King of France since 1830) and proclamation of the Second Republic
Plans to extend the plaster trade to England were revived and a survey of the London market carried out by a local agent whose report concluded with the following proposal: "I could send you coal and by combining the two operations, the business should be worthwhile and give you a substantial outlet". This suggestion was to seal the future of the Maison Worms. H. Worms next sought information about the conditions for importing goods by sea: sailings, cost of transport and handling, etc. and made enquiries into the coal and plaster requirements of towns between Rouen and Le Havre (July).
Start of trading in British coal (November)
The advent of a new rail link between Dieppe and Malaunay gave consignments arriving by sea a new means of acceding to the Rouen region (August). It was therefore decided to experiment with two shipments of British coal (October), the first from Blyth on board the "Henry & Elizabeth", and the second from Newcastle on the "Echo" (November). H. Worms, who had negotiated the price directly with Carr Lamb & Co., collieries on the Tyne, sold these consignments at a price 10% below the rates charged by his rivals. The success of the operation spurred him to continue on a much larger scale. Convinced that "the success of his enterprise would depend on how well the ships were loaded and on the choice of coal", he despatched a young Englishman by the name of Arthur Pring to represent him in Newcastle. Pring's task was to "negotiate with the colliers over the heads of all the middlemen", as part of an ambitious plan to guarantee suppliers regular volumes in order to obtain the lowest possible unit price. Now represented at point of origin, H. Worms also moved into the Norman ports, the main point of entry for the majority of goods shipped into France from Britain. In Dieppe, he placed his affairs in the hands of a broker, while in Rouen he engaged an agent.
In Le Havre, he instructed a local firm to take delivery of a first ship (January). However, with the subsequent arrival of a series of further shipments he decided to send Édouard Rosseeuw to the scene. Rosseeuw, who had just completed a survey of "freight movements" in the Dieppe area (March), moved into accommodation at 4, rue de la Gaffe (April) and, for 3 months, rented a yard for the temporary storage of plaster and coal (May). Having thus put his organisational arrangements into place, H. Worms then set about building up a clientele. Contracts signed with local industry (Rouen Hospices, Le Havre tobacco manufacturer, Compagnie Centrale d’Eclairage in Dieppe, Compagnie du Gaz Français) were, as a whole, for small quantities but they were enough to earn him the reputation of being "a formidable rival" against whom the other merchants (the most powerful being Hantier in Le Havre and Muston in Rouen) embarked on a price war. To begin with, H. Worms was confident of his ability to resist this onslaught but, little by little, he found himself facing a problem that threatened, if it were to recur, to "force him out of the business" (July). The problem lay in the fact that the quantities arriving on his ships were systematically smaller than those declared on loading. And the culprit behind this shortfall was none other than Carr Lamb & Co., who had a 50% stake in all of H. Worms' transactions. "Even if they pay a little more than you charge me, my competitors can still purchase their coal more cheaply, since what they gain in weight largely makes up for what they lose in price," he explained to them. This recurrent issue, which was the subject of vast exchanges of correspondence (with Arthur Pring in particular) was all the more critical in that H. Worms was hoping to be able to take part in the tenders regularly issued by the Navy for supplying coal for its ships. On being informed about tenders for contracts with Martinique and Rochefort (January-July), he submitted a bid - in vain - for the tender with Cherbourg (September). But this first attempt brought him into contact with Geo Insole & Co., collieries in Cardiff reputed for the quality of their steam coal (October). H. Worms responded to them swiftly: "In Rouen and Le Havre I am involved in trading large volumes of British coal from Newcastle and Sunderland. I am planning to extend this business by bidding for government contracts and it will be easy for me to add Cardiff coal as well." It was in this connection, as much as to overcome his problems with John Carr & Co., that he sent Édouard Rosseeuw off to Britain (November). To replace him, Rosseeuw decided to groom a young man by the name of Frédéric Mallet, whom he described to H. Worms in the following complimentary terms: "In Le Havre you will not have a simple clerk but a proper manager for your business."
Shortly after his arrival in Britain, Édouard Rosseeuw, whose task was to "establish relations in the country on more rational bases", negotiated two agreements for the supply of large quantities of coal from Newcastle (January). Through him and through Fr. Mallet, H. Worms was appointed official supplier to the New York & Havre Steam Navigation Company (March). At the same time, a friend of Éd. Rosseeuw, Théodore Bouscasse, was named as representative in Bordeaux. Finally, H. Worms managed to obtain what he had been wanting for some time, namely a contract from the Naval Ministry for the supply of 2,000 tonnes of coal to be delivered to Cherbourg between 1 May and 1 July, the first such contract to be signed with the State, in the face of 8 other bidders.
Opening of the Trans-Atlantic mail line on the New York & Havre Steam Navigation's ship, the "Franklin" (October)
Signature of contracts with steam shipping companies in Bordeaux (October). Second contract won with the Navy, this time for Martinique (November). Encouraged by this result, H. Worms made another bid, this time unsuccessful, for a contract with the Post Office for deliveries to Calais (December). Irrespective of the outcome, these tenders offered an excellent means of finding out about local markets and customer demand, for example in Marseilles, where H. Worms commissioned a local agent to conduct a thorough survey (November). Apart from selling bunker coal, which prompted a surge in purchases in the Cardiff district (from March-April), the distribution of coking coal began to increase with the growth in the number of railway company customers: proposals to the Tours to Nantes railway, negotiations with Orleans to Bordeaux (December). Business dealings with these companies also included plaster distribution (in particular with the Centre Railway between February and November), where exports to England were supplemented by agricultural products for which there was also a healthy market.
Newcastle office becomes a branch (January)
bearing the name of Hypte Worms and mentioning its French origins. Offer to supply the Tours to Nantes railway (January). Éd. Rosseeuw in Bordeaux to assist Th. Bouscasse (March).
Creation of the company Hantier Fils & Mallet in Le Havre (April)
with Fr. Mallet joining forces with Hantier Fils, Martin & Cie, his contribution being the business transferred to him by H. Worms, who thus became creditor of the new structure. It was also decided that all cargoes secured by this firm in the North of England would be handled exclusively by the Newcastle subsidiary. Despatch of several consignments of coal to Marseilles with a view to a tender to be launched by the postal authorities for supplying their liners between Marseilles and countries in the Levant (April). Despatch of shipments to Buenos Aires (April) and Rio de Janeiro (May). Agreement with one of the suppliers of the Levantine Postal authorities over providing a replacement service for consignments shipped from Marseilles and Constantinople. Deliveries to the successful bidder for the Navy contract in Algiers and Annaba (Bône) (July).
Ratification of the convention making the Messageries Nationales responsible for the "establishment and operation of mail services in the Mediterranean (8 July Act)
First contract with the Messageries: supply of 37,200 tonnes of bunker coal to be delivered to the ports of Civitavecchia, Pireaus, Smyrna, Constantinople, Alexandria and Malta (August); operation prepared by Éd. Rosseeuw in England and Marseilles, the only port not in the Worms fold. The contract, for quite substantial amounts, would be renewed annually.
Establishment of an agency in Blyth and a branch in Cardiff (September)
Prospection in ports where the Maison Worms was bidding for Navy and Messageries contracts. Particular interest in Italy, Spain and Africa (November). Merchant in Marseilles engaged to sign all British coal contracts in the name of H. Worms. Request for information about the demand for flour, potatoes and grain in Scotland and England: sale of some hundreds of tonnes (November).
Coup d'État of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (2 December)
Business association with the Maison Grandchamp in Rouen. Disappearance from correspondence of all mention of the plaster trade (December).
Foundation of the Shipping company of the Messageries Nationales (19 January)
Supply of coal to a company operating a screw propeller fleet between Rotterdam and Bordeaux. Negotiations between H. Worms, A. Grandchamp and the Dieppe Railway to obtain a reduction in freight charges to Rouen (25,000 tonnes minimum per year). Offer of services to a company in Newcastle (January) planning to move into Cardiff, a district where coal, according to H. Worms would "play a major role." Writing to Arthur Pring at the time, he explained that many companies in Newcastle with contacts all over the world were already receiving orders for coal from Cardiff and expected them to continue but were unable to fulfil them all. "Offer them my services and (tell them) that given my contracts, I can sell them the coal at the same price as the mines and organise their shipments: I will also undertake not to make offers to their friends". Refusal of the proposal made by Messrs. Nixon, producing an excellent coal steam in Cardiff, to purchase a mine in this district. Shipment of coal to California (March).
Foundation of the Crédit Foncier (28 March)
Ships sought for annual charter for Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands, the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Ceylon, Madras, Bombay, Calcutta, Java, Singapore, Australia, Panama, Acapulco and San Francisco. Choice of a representative in Naples and Palermo (April) to whom H. Worms was to write: "In the event of objections, you should simply reply that I am a supplier to the Messageries Nationales and the French Navy in various parts of the world. This should prove that I am able to deliver to all destinations as well as any other British firm, since my firm is also British... At the moment, for example, I have orders for Venice, Genoa, Leghorn, Trieste, etc." (May). Acquisition of shares in a steamship company in Marseilles, Charge Fils Aîné, and part-ownership of one of its screw-steamers, the "John-Erikson" (June-July), the idea being to supply coal to the company fleet at all calls on the line (Marseilles-Genoa-Leghorn and services to Morocco). Information received from Newcastle about the use of screw steamers: shipyards in Britain, shipping companies, characteristics, price. On this last point, from mail exchanged at the time, it would appear that prices were reaching vertiginous heights (August). Plan to operate a "hulk" based in Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands for supplying coal to ships bound for Australia. Sale of the "John-Erikson" (September-November). Attempts to win over customers from Austrian Lloyd, with annual requirements of an estimated 80,000 tonnes (October-November).
Establishment by the Pereire brothers of the Société Générale de Crédit Mobilier (18 November)
Offer sent to A. Grandchamp Fils for the construction of a screw steamer. He asked Hypolite Worms to accompany him to London to study the proposal (December).
Establishment of the Second Empire (2 December 1852) under Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France (Napoleon III)
Extension of the supply contract with the Messageries Maritimes to the ports of Beirut and Alexandretta.
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company takes charge of Indian Mail services (January). Messageries nationales renamed Messageries Impériales (28 February)
Changes in excise duties on coal in France
Messrs. Hantier and Grandchamp invited to London by Éd. Rosseeuw "to manipulate the owners" (January). H. Worms in Cardiff, London and Newcastle, where Henry Josse had joined Arthur Pring as his assistant. Major shipments sent from Cardiff, Swansea and Newport to San Francisco (Gold Rush - 1848-1856). First exchanges with James A. Burness (March-December). Convinced that screw steamers would replace sailing ships for his coal business, but determined to try the system before investing thousands of pounds, H. Worms asked one of his suppliers to rent him a screw steamer for one or two trips between Sunderland and Bordeaux, after which he would decide whether to purchase the steamer outright or operate it as a joint venture (March). Hantier Fils & Mallet awarded a contract with the Navy for the island of Gorée (May-October).
Foundation of A. Grandchamp Fils in Rouen (June)
Agreement with Achille Grandchamp under the terms of which H. Worms would close his offices in Rouen and Dieppe and become a limited partner of the company A. Grandchamp Fils (June). Transfer to H. Worms of the management of a slate-producing business in Great Britain (July). Deliveries to Rio de Janeiro on behalf of the Dreyfus company (June), to the French West Indies for the French Navy, among others (July), and to Cayenne for Chevillotte Frères (August). Development of business dealings in Marseilles where difficulties on the local market had forced H. Worms to scrap plans to open a branch, despite his relations with numerous steam shipping companies: Bazin & Périer, Taffe – Imperial shipping Company to destinations in Algeria, Michel Rebuffet, etc. Appointment of a representative in Alexandria (September). Shipwreck of the "Humboldt" (December) rapidly followed by that of the "Franklin" (31 July 1854), "a cruel blow" that threatened to force the Le Havre-New York postal service to cease operating. Decision to pull out of dealings with Chargé Fils Aîné: repayment of shares in the steamers, "Courrier-de-Marseille" and "Courrier-de-Naples", and investment in the Société Franco-Adriatico-Sicilienne (December).
Proposal of services to Marseilles shipping company Bazin, Léon Gay & Cie with a view to "developing major trade flows by combining indigenous coal with British coal" (January). At a time when "the French and British Governments were hiring vessels at any price for the East, Naples, Algiers and Toulon", H. Worms was given "carte blanche" by the Naval Ministry to deliver several thousand tonnes to Constantinople, Algiers, Bône, Oran and Stora. Considering this assignment to be a "matter of honour", he issued orders to Cardiff and Newcastle and his agents in French ports where he reckoned he could charter ships (February). But soaring transport prices resulted in the cancellation of order by the Ministry, which "preferred to reach an agreement with the Admiralty to channel all coal deliveries through a single British firm". Subsequently, however, contact was again established with Maison Worms. "Apart from the requirements of the two fleets," the company found itself also having to cater to the needs of "general trade, the Messageries, Austrian Lloyd, to say nothing of the Turkish and Egyptian Navies."
The Crimean War (which began in October 1853) spread to France and the United Kingdom, which declared war on Russia (27 March 1854), itself at war with the Ottoman Empire.
To avoid demand for the same destinations arriving at the same time, H. Worms and his counterpart at the British Admiralty, T. Gillepsy, reached an official agreement by means of which each would inform the other of requirements in their respective countries and, more particularly, split the business and not engage in potentially ruinous competition (May). In all, more than 100,000 tonnes of coal would be delivered to the Navy by Maison Worms in the course of the year, for destinations in the Baltic and the Mediterranean (Algiers, Malta, Piraeus, Milos, Syra, Beicos, Gallipoli, Constantinople, etc.).
Efforts in London to find a vessel available for hire for three months to be used between Cardiff or Newcastle and Bordeaux, Rouen, Le Havre and Dieppe but in view of the high prices proposed, decision to send Fr. Mallet to London in person. The latter, on his return to Le Havre, reported on the situation as follows: "I am beginning to think that what we need to do is build some screw-colliers ourselves. I suggest you consider increasing company equity and changing the company by-laws in consequence" (June). Contract with the Chemins de fer du Midi, in Bordeaux; announcement on the part of Hantier Fils & Mallet that they would "have a first screw steamer built with their friend and associate in Paris, Hte Worms, who has offices in Cardiff and Newcastle" and they were "also prepared to consider building a further such steamer for Bordeaux" (July). Increase by H. Worms of his stake in the Le Havre office, the name of which was changed to Hantier Mallet & Cie (with effect from 1 January 1855). Orders placed with the Samuelson & Co. yards (August) by Hantier Mallet & Cie and by A. Grandchamp Fils for one screw collier each. Negotiations with the Compagnie du Midi (September) to reach agreement over the delivery of 6,000 tonnes over a period of six months to Bordeaux and joint purchase of a screw steamer. Plans in hand at the Compagnie du Midi to charter 3 vessels against a promise on the part of H. Worms to have these vessels built (November). Two vessels hired by Th. Bouscasse in Britain for a six-month period or more (December).
Contacted by the French Navy to organise the shipment of flour, cattle, sheep and forage "on steamships" to destinations such as Stettin, Danzig, Königsberg, in order to "feed 15,000 to 20,000 men for 6 or 7 months, the likely duration of an expedition to the Baltic", H. Worms began hunting for partners to join him in purchasing a screw steamer (January-February). For its part, Hantier Mallet & Cie decided to sell its vessel even before delivery (1 March) and at the same time placed a further order. After some hesitation, Grandchamp also agreed to sell his steamer and have a new one built. In early June, H. Worms reached his decision, placing his order for a screw steamer identical to that of Hantier Mallet & Cie with Samuelson & Co. In early July, and for the second time, the latter was to sell its vessel even before it was complete, placing a further order virtually simultaneously. H. Worms, whose steamer was not yet under construction, recognised the risk of losing his place in the queue.
Albeit finding his feet as a ship-owner, H. Worms still remained a trader in British coal, something appreciated by the Samuelsons, themselves heavily involved in the economic development of their region not only because of their geographical position in relation to the South Yorkshire coalfields, a stone's throw from the sleepy little port of Grimsby, but also through their customers and network of business relations. As they assured H Worms: "Should you have enough coal to use two steamships for several years, you could obtain a couple of screw-steamers from the port of Grimsby. Things would be even easier, if you could take a one-third stake in each. There are not many vessels loading in Grimsby, so arrangements could be made with the docks." To explain face-to-face the reasons why they were making proposals to ensure "constant supplies" the Samuelsons came to see H. Worms in Paris. The only record remaining of this exchange of views is a memorandum entitled "Ideas for the creation of a Anglo-French steamship company" (23 August). This company was, in fact, to be founded on 6 October by British shareholders under the name of Anglo-French Steam Ship Cy Ltd. Its shareholders included H. Worms, Hantier Mallet & Cie and A. Grandchamp Fils. "Nine screw steamers will be ordered for the carriage of coal and other commodities... Mr. Worms and his friends will do everything they can to position South Yorkshire coal on the French market... and will be given preference in chartering the nine screw steamers". The success of the business depending on the quality of the coal supplied, and since H. Worms did not want "to create upheaval [before being] perfectly certain of the value of [these] products" that he was hoping to be able to place with the Orleans and Midi railway companies, trial shipments were sent to Rouen and Bordeaux. At the invitation of Samuelson & Co., H. Worms went to England to be "personally introduced to all the coal merchants or colliers, in order to be able to make his arrangements". There are two letters relating to this trip: one from Samuelsons (21-22 October) agreeing to the order of a second steamship by H. Worms, and another (26 October) in which Éd. Rosseeuw informed Th. Bouscasse of H. Worms' return from England where "major deals were on the table, business that would enable us to provide very good steamship services to a destination other than Bordeaux". Now that his steamer requirements were suitably covered by the Anglo-French Steam Ship Company, H. Worms set about selling his own ships, in particular to the Messageries, to whom he proposed a "grouped" purchase of all five vessels (November). But, at the same time, A. Grandchamp received an offer from Samuelsons to purchase his steamer and announced that he was prepared to conclude the deal. For H. Worms the only solution under such circumstances was to buy this ship so as not to lose face with the Messageries. In vain, since the Messageries rejected his proposal on the grounds that the steamers were "designed to carry coal and therefore of no use to them for their lines". H. Worms thus found himself the owner of three ships and Mallet of two, both trying to sell them off to different clients (December).
Unhappy in his "shipping business", H. Worms was more fortunate in his coal transactions. The Messageries finally decided to award him the contract for supplying their Marseilles depot, and he was also appointed their sole supplier for all ports of call along the lines linking Marseilles and Algeria and Tunisia (6 November). Moreover, it was the experience of this major client on which H. Worms was to call for purposes of trying to shape a vast combined transport operation with Grimsby as the hub of exchanges with Germany, Switzerland, Holland and the Mediterranean. Although visionary, these ideas failed to convince the Messageries, with the result that, whilst awaiting "the completion of his Anglo-French negotiations", H. Worms began to make preparations to leave for England and "establish his firm in Grimsby".
Opening of the Great Grimsby subsidiary (January)
under the management of Henry Josse (1818-1893). Acquisition of stakes in the Anglo-French Steam Ship Cy Ltd by Messrs. Worms, Mallet and Grandchamp through the purchase by the company of three of their five steamers under construction (February). Previously (10 January) and in line with their agreement to introduce South Yorkshire coal on the French market, they had set up the Compagnie Charbonnière du Nord and de l'Ouest Réunis, which, although able to take advantage of a reduction in customs duties, was to have a very short life. At the end of lengthy negotiations, an agreement was signed with the Chemin de fer du Midi regarding the supply, for 3 or 6 years, of annual tonnages of 10,000 or 20,000 tonnes of Cardiff coal (February). It was agreed that, in the event of screw steamers being used for these shipments, the company would be able to employ the ships on the return journey to take goods from Bordeaux to Cardiff. Three steamers were then placed at the disposal of its French shareholders by the Anglo-French Steam Ship for one year (March): the "Eugénie" for H. Worms, the "Victoria" for A. Grandchamp Fils and the "Napoleon" for Hantier Mallet & Cie. These vessels were then placed in service on a shipping line between Grimsby, Dieppe, Le Havre and Rouen.
Treaty of Paris: end of the Crimean War (30 March 1856)
For a period of 12 months, H. Worms chartered the "Vulture" for the exclusive carriage of coal between Cardiff and Bordeaux, on behalf of the Midi and Paris-Orleans railways (April). Opening of the Bordeaux-Grimsby line using the "Eugénie"; proposal made to the Chemins de fer de l'Ouest in order to provide back up for the Grimsby-Le Havre service by agreeing on combined rates with the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway Cy (June). H. Worms' idea (close to his heart but equally difficult to enforce) consisted of creating a bridge between the North and the South of Europe to foster trade flows through "round-trip sailings". The coastal shippers would leave Grimsby with their consignments of coal for "delivery to the French ports" and, on occasion, products from Liverpool, Manchester or Sheffield. On their return journey, they would take on board wine and other produce brought to Bordeaux by rail from the South of France, Italy, Spain and even countries in the Levant or North Africa via Marseilles on board the ships of the Messageries Impériales. In Dieppe, these backloads would be supplemented by consignments of wines from Champagne or any other goods shipped in by rail from the North of France. Finally, once in Grimsby, some cargoes could be trans-shipped on to other vessels and despatched to Holland, Germany, Hamburg and the Baltic. The sale of coal would be included in the overall system in the sense that the shipping and railway companies involved would purchase their supplies from the Maison Worms.
Birth of the Worms fleet (August)
Commissioning of the "Séphora" (30 August), the first of the two steamers still fully owned by H. Worms and the oldest of the Worms fleet. The ship was chartered to a company in Dieppe for services between the port and Bordeaux and Grimsby and was soon to be joined by the "Emma", H. Worms' second ship (1 October). Consolidation of services with Bordeaux with the addition of the "Lucien", a steamer belonging to Anglo-French Steam Ship placed at the disposal of H. Worms for the purpose. At the same time, H. Worms successfully managed to win over cotton bale shipments from Liverpool to supplement the coal shipments from Grimsby on the "Victoria" and "Eugénie" bound for Rouen.
Organisation with Grandchamp of a regular shipping service between Rouen, Dieppe and Grimsby (October)
for passenger and goods service on board the "Victoria" and "Eugénie", rapidly joined by the "Albert" (the 5th vessel launched by the AngIo-French Steam Ship and chartered by Grandchamp). Negotiations were also pursued over a potential agreement with the Chemins de fer de l'Ouest and the Chemins de fer de l'Est (November).
Estimating his annual shipments at a total of 350,000/400,000 tonnes, H. Worms was now in the position, despite all the difficulties, of having achieved what he had set out to do from the start. He had played his part in creating an "enormous movement towards the consumption of British coal" in France with, as his customers, three of the leading players: the Naval Ministry, the Messageries Maritimes and the Compagnie du Midi, a list soon to be extended to include the Lombard Venetian Railway Company (December).