"In the face of such fierce competition,
we are ordering Burness not to let any business opportunities pass him by."

Worms, Josse & Cie, 1891


Nomination of General Boulanger to the post of War Minister (7 January)

Shipments on behalf of Portalis Frères Carbonnier & Cie to Rosario, Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Proposal to the Austro-Hungarian Lloyd Steam Shipping Company regarding refuelling their ships on a planned new line to South America, listing the depots in which the Maison Worms had an interest: Gibraltar, Malta, Piraeus, Constantinople, Aden, Point de Galle, Colombo, Singapore, Madeira, Tenerife, Sao Vicente (Cape Verde Islands), Cape of Good Hope, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo. New contract signed for supplying ships in the French national fleet at Port Said (February). Announcement of a competitive tender for Bremen and Hamburg. 3-year contract with the Compagnie Française du Centre and du Midi for gas lighting in Béziers and Tarbes (March). Plans for establishment in Madagascar. Deliveries of coal to Pondicherry (April). Supplies to Messageries Maritimes depots in Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro (May). Cuts in Bordeaux-Pasajes services in the absence of sufficient freight, Bordeaux considering sending the "Séphora" with a consignment of pit props to Newport to collect a backload of coal. Plans to open an agency in Bayonne. "Séphora" involved in a collision in the port of Pasajes (June). Renewal of the contracts with the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (August), with major customers in Port Said and with the Messageries, in particular as regards the delivery of 10,000 tonnes of coal to Dakar (October).

Replacement of James P. O'Connor by Paul Rouyer at the head of the Port Said branch. Continued existence of the Pasajes agency with the drop in the shipping business from Bordeaux to Spain leaving only the "Séphora" still in operation (January). The "Commandant-Franchetti" allocated to occasional services between Bordeaux and Bristol, and the "Marie" to voyages to Newport, Antwerp and Swansea.

Permission given for all ships equipped with lights to transit through the Suez Canal at night (1 March)

Exclusive agreement with L. Sautter Lemonnier & Cie, manufacturers of electrical spotlights, to supply the Port Said branch with lights to be hired out to shippers wishing to send their fleet through the Suez Canal at night (March-April). Accident involving the "Hypolite-Worms" in the Citadelle Basin at Le Havre. First lights provided for the "Prometheus", owned by the firm of Holt, which completed the journey through the Canal in 16 ½ hours rather than the average of 43 hours by day (June). Plans to set up bunkering stations in Montevideo and La Plata. Death of Adolf Deppe, whose company had represented the Worms shipping line and commissioned its vessels since 1873 (April).

"The Schnaebelé Affair", French police officer suspected by the Germans of spying on behalf of General Boulanger (April)

Opening of an agency in Bayonne (June)

by the Bordeaux branch. Deliveries to the Sultan and to Portuguese warships in Zanzibar (August). Non-renewal of the treaty on non-competition on the Le Havre-Bordeaux route and transhipment operations with the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, which, facing heavy competition over its positions (in Algeria, in particular), had decided to establish an Antwerp-Dunkirk-Le Havre-Saint-Nazaire-Bordeaux-Oran-Algiers-Tunis service. Plans to create a bunkering station in Mahé (Seychelles) at the request of the Messageries Maritimes. Renewal of the contract with the Nixon colliery: 25,000 tonnes for the Messageries, 15,000 tonnes for A. Grandchamp Fils and 160,000 tonnes for Worms itself, which thus had a monopoly for the sale of this coal in Marseilles (September-November).

Franco-British agreement on the neutralisation of the Suez Canal (October)

Harsh competition over the renewal of contracts: loss of a number of customers offset by winning back the business of the Compagnie Nederland and P&O (October). Bordeaux-Newport service with the "Marie". Purchase by Port Said of the depot and customers of a rival company, the business thus acquired including refuelling the Russian Volunteer Fleet, Schiaffino (Genoa), the Hansa (Bremen), Pinkney (Sunderland), Chr. Michelsen & Co. (Bergen), David Bruce (London), W. Zader (Hamburg), etc. Contract for 95,000 tonnes of coal for the Messageries Maritimes (November).

Resignation of Jules Grévy in the wake of the "decorations" scandal, election of Marie François Sadi Carnot as the new President of the French Republic (2-3 December)

Imbalance in the results of the Bordeaux branch because of losses in the shipping business sector, giving rise to debate over whether it would not be better to dispense with the "Commandant-Franchetti", the "Marie" and the "Séphora" and to concentrate solely on the coal business and the Le Havre line. However, head office decided to charter British steamers to organise a regular Bordeaux-Antwerp service. Delivery of coal to the Messageries depot in Mahé (Seychelles), the Messageries deciding to close the Alexandria depot and refuel instead at Port Said (January-February).

Start of a customs war between France and Italy (February) that would last until 1898

Mention of a shipping services agency in Paris – in other words the Parisian office of the Le Havre branch specialising in freight (May). Plans to set up a depot in Piraeus was abandoned. Offer of services for the supply of coal to the Le Havre plant of the company Le Nickel (July). Negotiations with the gas authorities in Beirut that had contacted Worms Josse & Cie to handle their supplies. Addition of the coal depot of the Cochin-China to Saigon River shipping company to the list of ports for which the company would submit tenders. Meeting with the three main merchants in Port Said in a bid to reach an agreement "to stop the ruinous competition over prices" (September). Decision made in Paris not to pursue the agreement with counterparts in Port Said. Sale and despatch of Anchor (Ancre) briquettes from Cardiff to Algiers or Philippeville for the East Algerian Railways (October). Proposal to the Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire de Navigation à Vapeur and the Compagnie Maritime du Pacifique over the whole of their coal supplies in Bordeaux, and half of their requirements in Port Said and Aden (November).

Constantinople Convention guaranteeing the right of passage through the Suez Canal for all ships in times of both war and peace (December)

Decision by the A. Holt shipping line to no longer refuel at Port Said but in Algiers, where Worms was developing its business and planning to set up a "fully-fledged branch". The following advertisement was published in the "Annuaire colonial": Worms Josse & Cie Shippers - siège social: 45, boulevard Haussmann, Paris – regular steamship services between Bordeaux, Le Havre and Hamburg; Bordeaux and Rouen; Bordeaux, Antwerp and Bremerhaven; Bordeaux and Pasajes – companies and coal depots: Paris, Le Havre, Tonnay-Charente, Bordeaux, Bayonne, Pasajes, Cardiff, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Grimsby, Gibraltar, Marseilles, Malta, Piraeus, Constantinople, Port Said, Suez, Aden, Zanzibar, Point de Galle, Colombo, Singapore, Madeira, Tenerife, Sao Vicente (Cape Verde Islands), Cape of Good Hope, Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo.


General Boulanger triumphantly elected Member of Parliament in Paris (27 January); later he would be found guilty of plotting against national security, a verdict that would end his regime

Unprecedented demand for Cardiff coal – the difficulties in finding enough vessels were enough to prompt H. Goudchaux to remark that he had never seen anything like it in the 26 years of his career. Rent by the Port Said branch of over 40% of the lights used by ships to cross the Suez Canal by night (January). Study of plans to set up in Algiers with P. Cherfils, the company's local agent (February).

Liquidation of the Universal Inter-Oceanic Panama Canal Company (February)

Organisation by the Le Havre branch of a Dunkirk-Hamburg service. Competition from the firm Louis Flornoy & Fils of Nantes for Bordeaux-Pasajes traffic (March). Having exported 1,200,000 tonnes of coal from England and Scotland to ports in France, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the African Coast, Brazil and Indochina, the Maison Worms could not imagine that "any other company, even British, could outstrip it" (April). Plans to sell the factory in Bordeaux (May). Birth of Hypolite Worms, son of Lucien Worms and Virginie Adèle Houcke (26 May). Addition of Santa-Lucia (Lesser Antilles) to the list of coal depots. Sale by the Marseilles branch of peppers, cloves and other articles sent from the Zanzibar agency and efforts in Hamburg to find brokers trading specifically in such goods (September). Ambassadors of the Sultan of Zanzibar received by H. Goudchaux in Paris. Signature of a contract with the Guéret works in Cardiff for the supply of a maximum of 15,000 tonnes of Anchor briquettes, in particular to cater to an order from Boléo, a client since 1886 for the carriage of tinplate scrap to Santa-Rosalia. Transfer of the "Marie" and "Commandant-Franchetti" from the Bordeaux to the Le Havre branch with effect from 1 January 1890 – Antwerp and Hamburg services combined to ensure four regular sailings per month (November). The 472 victims of the collision between the "Leerdam" and "Gaw-Quan-Sia" in the middle of the night rescued by the "Emma" (16 December). New Antwerp – Bremen service. Of the 550,000 tonnes of coal exported from Cardiff alone, Worms Josse & Cie Paris handled 339,000 tonnes, Le Havre 6,000 tonnes, Bordeaux 5,000 tonnes, Grandchamp 10,000 tonnes and 190,000 tonnes for the Messageries Maritimes (December).

Order placed for steamers on behalf of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Annual supply contract for the steamships of H. Bordes in Marseilles, Gibraltar, Montevideo, Pernambuco, Sao-Vicente (Cape Verde Islands). Sharp increase in demand for coal from Grandchamp to supply his clients in Rouen (January). Trading of products exported from Zanzibar to France and the rest of Europe successfully undertaken by the Worms outpost to offset the downturn in the coal business henceforth limited to supplying Cicero Brown of Le Havre, Delmas Frères of La Rochelle and the Compagnie Nantaise & Compagnie Havraise de Navigation à Vapeur. P. Cherfils recommended to represent the company in relation to British ships calling in Algiers (May). Death of Achille Grandchamp (June).

Colonial agreement between France and the United Kingdom with Britain recognising France's rights over Madagascar in exchange for recognising the British protectorate over Zanzibar and the Lower Niger (5 August)

Threat of massive competition from Lambert against the Port Said branch sparked by the recovery of the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Cy first awarded to Worms in 1887 (August). Construction of two new steamers. Arrangement with Louis Flornoy & Fils of Nantes: the Maison Worms would supply their ships and, in return, stop handling freight between Bordeaux and Nantes. Revival of plans to open a coal depot in the island of Reunion. New contract for 61,200 tonnes of coal sold ex-ship (cost of unloading borne by the consignee) to the Naples Gas Lighting & Heating Company (November). Organisation by the Bordeaux branch of a Le Havre-Antwerp service with the "Marie" in reprisal for the twice-monthly line opened by the Compagnie Navale de l'Ouest between Bordeaux and Hamburg in competition with Worms (this rivalry was short-lived). Loss of the "Louise-Jenny" that foundered on the rocks at Penmarch (December). Total sales achieved by Worms Josse & Cie of 1,574,251 tonnes of British coal, apparently "the largest amount exported by a single company".

Supply of 15,600 tonnes of coal briquettes to the West Algerian Railways for delivery to Oran and Arzew (January). Transformation of the company A. Grandchamp Fils & Cie into Leblanc Charlemaine & Cie, a company of which Worms Josse & Cie were general partners and which was responsible for the coal business in Rouen and Paris (January). Price war in Port Said (March). Launch of the "Suzanne-and-Marie" (March) and the "Séphora-Worms" (May), these two vessels being based at Le Havre and worked between Bordeaux and Hamburg (June and July). Sale of the "Lucien" (June). Agreement with Schiaffino Frères to take delivery of coal shipped to Algiers and Bougie on behalf of the East Algerian Railways (April-July). After some hesitation, the idea of setting up a coal depot at Porto-Praya in the Cape Verde Islands was abandoned (April-October). Sale of the "Isabelle" to Lobnitz & Co. (June).


Financial guarantees provided for the Suez Canal Company
on behalf of Marcus Samuel & Co. – carriage of petroleum (September)

in return for granting permission to this London-based company to ship its tanker steamers through the Canal with their cargoes of Russian oil (June) from Batum in the East, these steamers to be supplied with coal by Worms in Constantinople, Port Said, Aden and Colombo. Negotiations with the Mala Real Portuguesa over its coal bunker concession in Sao-Vicente (October). Death of Élie Baudet (2 November), manager and general partner since 1881: no changes made to company by-laws.

Opening of a branch in Algiers (October-November)

for coal and ship commissioning activities – circulars sent to French and foreign shipping lines. Renewal of contracts for bunkering coal and for ship commissioning with a number of companies, the most important in France being the Chevillotte company, the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, the Chargeurs Réunis, Louis Flornoy & Fils, Delmas Frères, the Compagnie Havraise Péninsulaire.
The number of vessels supplied with coal by the Port Said branch reached 1,543 (of a total of 4,206), coal supplies representing 497,831 tonnes out of a total of 1,001,878, i.e. 49.70%. The branch's share of the lights hired for night transit through the Suez Canal equalling 1,295 of a total of 3.740.

Revival of the coal trade in Le Havre. Deliveries to the PLM railway in Algiers (January). Successful bid by the Algiers branch for a contract for the supply of coal to the French Navy in Algiers, Annaba (Bône) and Philippeville for a 3-year period, reported in the press, for example in "La Bataille" which headlined: "The Algiers Admiralty. Coal supply contract for the French fleet goes to the British". Final agreement on the undertaking with the Canal company whose first oil tanker commissioned from Worms Port Said made its crossing in mid-August. Re-launch of plans to set up in Porto Praya (February-June), Montevideo and La Plata (February-October). Sale of the steamer "Emma" and order placed for another steamer with the same name (August).

Establishment of a branch in Buenos Aires (October)

whose main business would be the coal trade in the Rio de La Plata region and, as a complement, export to Europe of raw materials from Argentina (Quebracho wood, skins, wools, etc.). Power struggle with the Nixon colliery over the renewal of supply contracts (October-November), Nixon wanting to take advantage of the cut-throat competition between merchants to make the Maison Worms pay a heavy price for an exclusive deal.


Bill voted regarding "a bounty for the construction
and operation of steel-hulled sailing ships (January)

Escalation of the price war: bunkering contracts signed at around £ 18 per tonne as opposed to £ 27 ten years earlier. Double the number of steamers on the Bordeaux-Rouen line to offset the attack from the Compagnie Parisienne de Navigation à Vapeur, offering a rival service at "rock-bottom prices" (January-November). Commissioning of the new "Emma" with the home port of Le Havre (February).

Establishment of an agency in Tonnay-Charente (March)

where the company had been represented since 1888 (March). Death of Henri Josse, associate and manager at Worms Josse & Cie (23 July), Henri Goudchaux succeeded him at the head of the company. Restriction of activities in South America to operations conducted by the Buenos Aires branch (July-November).

Strike in Wales (August): first major coal sector crisis

Consolidation of stocks – which, for more than a month, had fallen short of requirements – by moving 28,000 tonnes of coal on ships chartered in Newcastle, Scotland, Antwerp, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Dunkirk and sending 5,000 tonnes of briquettes to Marseilles. For the first time, coal was purchased other than from purely British collieries. Delivery of the "Thérèse-et-Marie", the Group's new Le Havre-based steamer (September). Permission from the Navy to deliver Powell-Duffryn coal to Algiers (October). Circular informing shippers that Worms' services would be doubled on the routes between Bordeaux and Le Havre, Rouen and Paris, and vice-versa. Plans to create a steamship line serving the ports of Bordeaux and Rouen for departures from Algeria "now that coastal shipping between Algeria and France is exclusively reserved for ships sailing under the French flag. The "Lucie-et-Marie" built by the McMillan & Son shipyards set sail from Le Havre bound for Bordeaux (November). Non-competition treaty with the Chevillotte shipping company and agreement over the organisation of a combined Brest-La Rochelle service using Worms' steamers from Le Havre, and a Brest-Nantes service using Chevillotte steamers, to be operated alternately every other Sunday (November-December). Large surpluses in the bunkering stations caused by a fall in sales during the strike to clients such as the Messageries and P&O that had gone over to Japanese and Indian suppliers and were refuelling essentially in Bombay. Risk that the Algiers depot - working at maximum rate to cope with demand during the conflict – would run out of stock. Back-up coal stocks in Port Said increased to 50,000 tonnes, depots in France not suffering to the same extent from the strike because less focused on ship bunkering and closer to the various mining areas.

3-year extension of the supply treaty with the Navy in Algiers (January), where bunkering contracts were proliferating and the branch was delivering large quantities to inland consumers, in particular the two railway companies which it supplied with Anchor briquettes, the brand name of the briquettes manufactured by the Guéret company with which a merger in Le Havre and Marseilles was under consideration. Tendency towards an increase in gas coal sales, mainly in the Marseilles region and involving contracts with the Lambton colliery and the Wearmouth Coal Cy that had the reputation of producing the best gas coal in the North of England. Agreement with the Compagnie Navale de l'Ouest over a link between Le Havre and Antwerp to counter a major price war on the part of the railway. Decision not to set up in Smyrna because the company "already has so many coal depots that it hesitates to open new ones, especially when they would be relatively minor" (February). Contract for 30,000 tonnes of coal for the Argentine Railways (March). Plans to have ships call in at Dunkirk to pick up freight for Antwerp, Hamburg and Bremen, with the support of a bounty from the Chemin de fer du Nord. Organisation of the carriage of wine from Bordeaux to Paris and cognacs via Tonnay-Charente bound for Le Havre, Antwerp and Hamburg (April-August).

Assassination of President Sadi Carnot (24-25 June): adoption of the last of the "villainous laws" against the anarchists; Jean Casimir-Périer elected President of the Republic

Proposal from the Westphalian coal syndicate, from which the company had obtained supplies during the 1893 strike, regarding deliveries to Port Said with an exclusive sales concession and the possibility of becoming the official supplier of Lloyds in Bremen, an offer rejected because "shippers will never prefer this coal, even if it is cheaper". Efforts to reach an agreement with the German shipping company Rhederei, a rival operator on the Le Havre-Hamburg line (August). New arrangement expected with Wilson Sons & Co. Ltd to handle the business of their depots with the Compagnie Marseillaise with steamers calling at Sao Vicente, Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo and La Plata. As head office informed the Marseilles branch: "since we have excellent relations with the depots in Madeira, Tenerife and San Miguel, we are also able to include them in our offers, as well as our depots in Buenos Aires, which will place us on an equal footing with all our rivals". Tonnay-London link under study (September). Contract with the Nixon colliery. Agreement with Alfred Holt to standardise the rates levied for re-forwarding goods shipped in on Worms lines and despatched on to Singapore, Manila, Java, etc., all destinations served by Holt, a Worms' client (October). Exceptional order for 2,000 tonnes of Nixon's Navigation coal to be delivered to the liner "Touraine" belonging to the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. Recovery for 1895 of the contract with P&O in Marseilles lost in 1893, the backbone of the company's activities in the port. Plans to double the Brest and Charentes service to cater to the increase in freight from Le Havre to Brest and to boost the number of sailings from Tonnay to Le Havre (November). Renewal of the by-laws of the company Leblanc Charlemaine & Cie in Rouen. Trial sailing undertaken by the "Lucie-et-Marie" to Oran. Sale by the Zanzibar depot of 40,787 tonnes to 22 ships since its creation (December).


Resignation of Jean Casimir-Périer - Félix Faure elected to be his successor

Fierce competition from the railways: "the time has come to abandon our detached, rather passive attitude in the face of the campaign conducted by the companies to win traffic away from the shipping companies". Hire of the "Séphora-Worms" for a trip to Marmara. Enquiries into possibilities for setting up a coal depot in Madagascar (January). Coal despatched to Majunga. Change of shipping agents in Ghent and Terneuzen (February). Agreement with a merchant shipper in Rouen when incorporating the Pasajes-Bordeaux service into the Bordeaux-Rouen line (April). Hire of the "Suzanne-et-Marie" for a voyage along the West Coast of Africa. Sharp and sustained increase in deliveries to the French Navy in Algiers where the branch "finally succeeded in supplying coal to a British warship (May). Discussions over renewal of the agreements with A. Deppe (June).

Official opening of the Kiel Canal (20 June)

Renewed interest in the Baltic following the opening of the Kiel Canal enabling ships to go directly from the mouth of the Elbe into the Baltic without having to sail round the Jutland Peninsula. Eugène Cellier, the company's agent in Hamburg, officially ordered to cease the Bordeaux-Baltic service via Hamburg, as "the safest and most practical way" not to enter into competition with the Danish Forenede (September). Opening of a coal depot in La Plata.

Change of company name to Worms & Cie (18 December)

Revision of the firm’s articles of association: Paul Rouyer, Manager of the Port Said branch, and Alphonse Mayer, proxy holder since 1 January 1892, became managing partners alongside the widow of Hypolite Worms, and Henri Goudchaux, who retained the casting vote. "The company has outlets in Bordeaux, Le Havre, Tonnay-Charente, Bayonne, Marseilles and Algiers (in France), in Pasajes (Spain), in Cardiff, Newcastle and Great-Grimsby (United Kingdom), Port Said and Suez (Egypt) and Buenos Aires (Argentina)... Its assets consist essentially of full ownership of the steamers "Suzanne-et-Marie", "Séphora-Worms", "Emma", "Lucie-et-Marie", "Thérèse-et-Marie", "Hypolite-Worms", "Frédéric-Franck", "Commandant-Franchetti", "Marguerite-Franchetti", "Blanche", "Marie", "Ville-de-Nantes" and "Président", based in the port of Le Havre...", the duration of the company was extended to 1 January 1911. Delivery of nearly 50,000 tonnes of coal to the Société des Forges et Hauts-Fourneaux in Trignac.

The Japanese company Yusen Kaisha became a customer of the Port Said branch, which already counted numerous shipping companies and the British, Austro-Hungarian, Italian, Russian and Japanese Navies among its clients, and was fast recovering the business of shipping companies that had gone over to the competition (March). Plans to drop Tonnay-Charente as a port of call (June). Agreement with Delmas Frères over the organisation of a Pasajes-Bordeaux service at the risk of creating competition for Flornoy & Cie of Nantes, which, according to a long-standing arrangement, provided "almost worthless" coal contracts for some of the company's depots, in return for the transfer of an agreed share of shipments on the Bordeaux to Nantes route (September). Following the death of the representative in Zanzibar, Worms & Cie opened an agency in its own name (October). In addition to the local customers of the different branches, many leading firms were also served, such as Desmarais Frères, the Public Works Company (for the Jaffa Railway), the Gas Lighting Company, the Marseilles blast furnaces and foundries, the Portes & Sénéchas mines and the Rennes Gas Company. Re-establishment of relations with the Lebon Company in connection with the delivery of supplies to its works in Port Said.

Threat of closure of the Zanzibar depot following the loss of the Messageries business, the Marseilles branch being asked to develop copra and clove exports (January-February). Loss of the "Blanche" on exit from Pasajes. Through carriage of wines from Bordeaux to Berlin with transhipment in Hamburg (March). Tests with coal from Australia, Japan and India that could compete with Cardiff coal on the Indochina Seas. Efforts to acquire business from the Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt AG (whose proposed Hamburg-Indochina line represented a potential threat to shipping services) as its agent in Marseilles and supplier to its steamships in its different ports of call (May). Possibility of extending operations at the Algiers branch to include steamer representation and commissioning (July). Competition between the Marseilles-Algeria-Bordeaux-Rouen line, inaugurated by Cyprien Fabre & Cie, and the Worms service between Bordeaux and Paris via Rouen, already seriously weakened by grip taken by the Chemin de Fer d'Orléans on traffic between the South-West and Paris. Agreement negotiated by H. Goudchaux in London with his main counterparts in Marseilles, Gibraltar, Algiers and Port Said – whom, he noted at the time: "seem as tired as we are of the job we have been doing for the past 2 years;" According to this agreement: "the different companies will, as far as possible, respect each other's existing customers offering the same price to all but with the possibility of continuing to grant the same concessions as in the past to such customers". Decision by the French Navy only to use briquettes made in France (September). Buy-out of the Eagle Coal Cy with three merchants in Port Said: Cory Brothers & Co., Lambert Bros. and Wills & Co. (October). Negotiations conducted by H. Goudchaux on behalf of M. Samuel & Co., to obtain permission from the Suez Canal Company to erect fuel tanks at each end of the Canal. Marseilles branch became the agency for the Orient Cy (October-November). Journey to Buenos Aires by Paul Rouyer to prospect for business (November-December). Loss of the "Marie", which foundered at Guilvinec (December).


Publication by Emile Zola of the article "J'accuse"("I accuse") in the paper L'Aurore (January),
at the peak of the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906)

Contract with the Navy in Algiers for the supply of coal briquettes made by Delmas Frères at their factory in La Rochelle. Sale of coal in Toulon via a local company (February). Death of Séphora Goudchaux at the age of 80 years (2 March), her two children, Lucien Worms and Emma-Louise Delavigne, inheriting her stake in the company. Reorganisation of the Charentes shipping service by moving the terminus from Tonnay to La Pallice and extending the service through to Rouen.

Signature of a ten-year agreement with the Shell Transport & Trading Co. Ltd (March)

(company founded in 1897 by M. Samuel & Co., among others) setting out the conditions under which the Maison Worms would be its agent and including all its oil business in Port Said and Suez. It was also agreed that Worms would assist in building its depots, act as agent for its ships in Port Said and Suez and not become involved in the oil business in any other places and ports to the East of Suez and the West of America that could be in competition with those of "Shell" (March).

Miners' strike in Cardiff (April-September)

Long letter sent to the Canal Company explaining the arrangements proposed by M. Samuel & Co. for the organisation and operation of their company, the nature of the fuel they were planning to keep in stock, the advantages of oil and the use already made of it, etc. (April). Crossing made by the "Thérèse-et-Marie" from Blyth to Dakar and Bathurst with a consignment of coal for the West African Coast Company and return to Marseilles with a consignment of groundnuts (May-June). Further competition from the Fabre Company in Bordeaux and Rouen (May). Egyptian Government seized the land placed at Shell's disposal in Port Tewfik (June).

Diplomatic crisis between France and the United Kingdom over the control of Fachoda, a strategic crossroads in the South of Egypt, between French Sudan and Abyssinia (July-December)

Suggestion to the Messageries that they try American New River coal (August). Closure of the branch of Watts Williams & Co. in Marseilles and transfer of its business to Worms & Cie. Breakdown in the negotiations with C. Fabre & Cie. Instructions from Shell to the Suez branch regarding two fuel storage tanks (October). Efforts to encourage common action on the part of all the merchants bound by an agreement to fight against competition (in Marseilles). Postponement of plans to set up a fuel storage facility in Port Said. Delivery to the Messageries, from M. Samuel & Co., of the list of prices for the supply of liquid fuel in Suez, Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kobe, Yokohama (November). Major difficulties in renewing contracts with shipping lines in Liverpool threatening to set up their own depot in Port Said if the company did not give in on new clauses as regards war or strikes and on prices. Decision by Shell to build a third tank in Port Tewfik. Closure of the depot in La Plata and transfer of business in the port to Wilson Sons & Co. (December).


Death of Félix Faure (18 February). Émile Loubet elected by Congress to succeed him as President of the French Republic

Purchase of the steamer "Grafton", rebaptised the "Michel" (February-March). Increase in the supply of coal to American warships in Port Said, the company's local branch seeking a share of this lucrative business (February-December). Awareness campaign among customers in Algiers and Marseilles concerning the use of oil fuel and the organisation established by M. Samuel & Co. which, in addition to its oil deposits in Baku, had bought out further deposits in Borneo and was planning to develop an unbroken chain of liquid fuel deposits from Japan to the United Kingdom. Sample of 20 tonnes of Borneo oil in containers placed with the Navy in Cherbourg, as Worms announced its intention "of opening liquid fuel depots in France, in some colonies and abroad for the purpose of supplying naval and merchant vessels, railways and industry" (March-May). Development of the Berlin agency to boost traffic between Germany and France via Hamburg.

Establishment of agencies in Alexandria and Cairo (April)

Construction of oil tanks in Alexandria. Recovery of operations in Pasajes where "large quantities of iron ore will be transiting on their way to the United Kingdom, which ought in return make coal shipments easier" (April-May). Redefinition of relations with Messrs. Cory and Savon in the wake of the conflict between the two companies, Savon being Cory's agent in Port Said (July-December). "Commandant-Franchetti" capsized off the coast of England on its way from Le Havre to Amsterdam carrying a shipment of cocoa (July).


Establishment of agencies in Tantah, Damiette, Mansourah, Samanouh,
Metiallah and Kebir (August)

Sinking of the "Ville-de-Nantes" following a collision in the Gironde. Relations maintained with the Perlbach company following the demise of its head (August). Creation of central management structures in Egypt to run the Port Said and Suez branches and all the agencies. Contract with the American War Department over coal for its steamers in Port Said. Development of sales of kerosene in the various depots (September).

Boer War in South Africa (October 1899-May 1902)

Relations with Stapledon in conjunction with the Shell and Dutch Petroleum agencies. Threat of the opening of a coal depot in Port Said by Messrs. Savon, with Worms considering the possibility of retaliating by taking its transhipment business elsewhere. Conveyance by the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique of 100,000 tonnes of coal from Philadelphia to the Marseilles branch. Arrangement with the Hamburg American Line for it to convert "three of its biggest steamships used on routes to the Far East to liquid fuel", and attempts to encourage the Messageries Maritimes and P&O to try out this type of fuel (November). Loss of the business of Royal Dutch Petroleum Cy customers in Port Said. Contract with Fraissinet in Marseilles. Arrangements made in London over the management of the Eagle Coal Co. following the closure of Savon Bazin & Co., alterations to the handling contract with L. Savon. Delivery of supplies to a quarter of the Russian Volunteer Fleet. Supply of 76,000 tonnes of coal to the Messageries Maritimes in Port Said (December).


New agreement with Marcus Samuel & Co.

New facilities funded by the company in Alexandria, Cairo and inland Egypt thanks to the payment by M. Samuel & Co. of 5% interest on the sums advanced. Use of Worms steamers for the carriage of coal in the absence of available coal steamers. Inauguration of a coal depot in Algiers specifically for German shipping companies. Contract with PLM for 45,000 tonnes of American New River coal for which Worms was the exclusive agent in France and which it had been shipping to the Messageries depot in Rio de Janeiro for the past two years (January-April). Awareness campaign among French and foreign clients regarding American coal, of a quality comparable to that of Cardiff, the price of which was spiralling upwards (February-June). Fixing of coal contract prices and regular prices among merchants in Port Said. Launch and commissioning of a new steamer, the "Sauternes" (April-May). Opening of the Damanhour depot, near Alexandria. Delivery of New River coal to the Orleans to Saint-Nazaire Railway, the Chargeurs Réunis, the Nederland in Amsterdam, British India, Orient Co., etc. (May-June).

Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) and attacks on foreign legations:
55 days in Peking (June-August)

Proposal to the PLM for the supply of 200,000 tonnes of New River coal for delivery to Marseilles over a two-year period (July). Contract with the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique for the supply of coal to Port Said, Aden and Colombo (in connection with the war in China).

Wales paralysed by the Taff Vale Railway Co. strike (August)

Stocks reserved in Cardiff for existing customers, sale of Scottish and American coal in the Algiers, Marseilles and Port Said depots because of the railway strike in the Rhondda and Aberdare Valleys, "in other words, almost all of the district where the best Welsh coal is produced", these being the valleys supplying the Worms depots (August-October). Ships placed at the disposal of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique in Philadelphia. End of the agreement among coal bunkering companies in Marseilles. Sounding of the market in Lyon for shipments from Bordeaux. Experiments with Indian coal by the Messageries and the Chargeurs Réunis. Development of gas coal sales, in particular Wearmouth coals over which Worms had a monopoly and which it had been selling for a number of years to industries in Bordeaux, Marseilles, Lyon, Toulon, Naples, etc. (November). Contract with the Navy in Algiers. Contract with the Messageries for 40,000 tonnes of coal including at least 30,000 tonnes of New River. Deliveries to Austrian Lloyd in Zanzibar (December). Sale by the Port Said branch of 456,519 tonnes of coal out of a total of 1,195,701 tonnes.

Commissioning of the "Haut-Brion", a 1,400 tonne cargo vessel to replace, with the "Sauternes", the two foundered vessels, the "Marie" (1897) and "Ville-de-Nantes" (1899). End of the arrangement with Messrs. Savon over freight business in Port Said, following which Worms set about "doing everything possible to ensure that [it] be spared in Savon's fierce battle to win over clients." Establishment in Marseilles "of a fairly large flow of American coals" previously sent to Brazil and which was likely to come to an end "the day when British prices started to fall". These sales were split fifty-fifty with Mann Georges & Co. (January). Stake taken in the capital of the Armoricaine, a shipping company created by the merger between the firms Legal and Flornoy. Freight contract with the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique for the carriage of US coal to Marseilles (March). Recovery from the Delaurier company of business in Rochefort and Angoulême. Sale in Hamburg of the "Commandant-Franchetti" (May). Messrs. Samuel's hopes as regards liquid fuel shattered, the Navy seemingly "not willing to change its habits overnight, to some extent because it remained to be convinced that oil would be less costly than coal, especially given that vessels equipped for liquid fuel would be less available on routes where only coal was available". Sale of the "Lucie-and-Marie" (June).

Bill on associations voted (1 July)

Start of construction of the "Bidassoa", a lighter vessel with shallower draught enabling it to dock in small ports in the Channel and the Atlantic (Douarnenez, Concarneau, Lorient, etc.). Plans to take over control of a coal depot in Dakar (Senegal). Deliveries of Indian coal to the Messageries in Diego Suarez (August) and to Marcus Samuel & Co. in Port Said (September). Acquisition of a broker portfolio for A. Monod in Marseilles. 200,000 tonnes of American coal imported over two years and sold to the Messageries Maritimes (Rio depot and liners in the Mediterranean), P&O, British India, the Orient Co., etc.

Coal contract with Nippen Yusen Kaisha for the ports of Marseilles, Algiers, Port Said, Le Havre and Bordeaux, Zanzibar and Buenos Aires. Delivery of the "Barsac" (first ship to bear this name), specially designed to carry heavy and outsize loads, wine, crates and goods in bags. Worms became the Chevillotte shipping company's representative in Le Havre replacing Dumesnil-Leblé, which had ceased trading. Deliveries to the Russian Volunteer Fleet in Port Said. Purchase by Messrs. Goudchaux and Rouyer of the shares of Alphonse Mayer on the latter stepping down as general partner of Worms & Cie (March).

Promulgation of the first so-called "compensation" bill (April)

Corresponding to the payment of a bounty to compensate for the costs borne by the merchant navy, this bill also included a "sailing bounty" granted to all vessels of more than 100 gross tonnes built in France and sailing under the national flag, and was to encourage the Maison Worms to steer its business towards French shipyards (Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire).


Foundation of the CCAF (Central Committee of French Shipowners) (13 January) chaired by André Lebon, former Minister and Chairman of the Messageries Maritimes, with Henri Goudchaux as Treasurer

Establishment of the company Leblanc Charlemaine, Guian & Cie in Rouen, following on from Leblanc Charlemaine & Cie, of which Lucien Worms and Emma Delavigne were general partners, this company being one of the heirs of the A. Grandchamp company, which had included H. Worms among its founders. Publication of an article in the Revue Générale des Transports, recounting the history of shipping operations and describing services available: the lines served by the steamers of Worms & Cie are all operated on a weekly basis, with the exception of those of Brest and La Pallice, which are twice weekly. They are highly appreciated and particularly known for the absolutely perfect regularity of their sailings. Steamers leave Le Havre every Saturday evening bound for Bordeaux and Hamburg. One in two Bordeaux-bound steamers calls at Brest on its outward journey and the other in La Pallice on the return leg. From Bordeaux for Le Havre, Hamburg and Pasajes, sailings are every Sunday morning; for Rouen, every Thursday evening; for Antwerp, every Friday evening. From Rouen to Bordeaux, every Thursday morning; from Hamburg to Le Havre, Bordeaux, every Friday evening. These are extra sailings between these various ports during the peak season as often as warranted by demand. In addition, there are frequent departures during the shipping season, directly from Bordeaux and, at times, Le Havre for Bremen. The port of Paris is served by steamers originating in Rouen and Le Havre or arriving in these ports by means of services operated jointly with the river shipping company, the Seine, whose agents in Rouen commission the vessels of Worms & Cie. Finally, one steamer is used essentially for handling the British coal en route to Worms, and when the company's ships are not all required for services on regular lines, unused steamers may be chartered for a variety of other shipping operations. These sail mainly to the Baltic."


Russian-Japanese War (February 1904-September 1905)

Sharp surge in demand for bunker coal in Suez for Russian and Japanese warships, in preparation for the hostilities threatening between the two countries, with Worms delivering as much coal to the two fleets in just 4 days as in a normal year. Appointment of Michel Goudchaux, the son of Henri Goudchaux, to the position of general proxy holder.

Signature in London of an agreement signalling the end of the colonial disputes between France and the United Kingdom, giving France freedom of action in Morocco and recognising British supremacy in Egypt and Sudan (April)

Agreement with Asiatic Petroleum Cy Ltd (company founded in 1903 with the support of "Shell", Royal Dutch and a group of Russian and Indo-Dutch producers), replacing that of 30 March 1898 with Shell Transport & Trading Co. Ltd and appointing Worms & Cie to be the Asiatic Petroleum Cy Ltd's agent for oil dealings in the ports of Port Said, Suez and Alexandria and their hinterlands, and in all ports near Egypt not directly served by the Asiatic Petroleum Cy Ltd. Stronger competition from German coal (Kohlensyndikat in Algiers, and German Coal Depot in Port Said) against British coal. Death of Mr. Charlemaine of Maison Leblanc Charlemaine Guian & Cie.

Death of Émile Leblanc (January), so hard on the heels of that of Mr. Charlemaine, prompted Worms & Cie to buy out the Dieppe-Grimsby line initially established and operated by A. Grandchamp Fils, the deal including the steamers "Georgette", "Ernestine" and "Hirondelle", and facilities in the two ports. Subsequent opening of a branch in Dieppe (April) and signature of a contract with the Chemin de Fer de l'Ouest for the carriage of set volumes of freight per year, in other words "the coal required by this railway company, or 21,000 to 22,000 tonnes, which represented more or less the space still free on board the steamers, once they had embarked the goods arriving for the different sailings" (wool, tow, rags and "volume goods").

"The Kaiser's coup", Germany threatening to occupy Tangiers in protest against the colonisation of Morocco by France (March)

Sale of the "Marguerite-Franchetti" (July). Transfer of shares from Lucien Worms and Emma Delavigne to Jules Silvain, appointed associate of the general partnership Worms & Cie, and from Henri Goudchaux to Paul Rouyer. Sale of the "Ernestine" for scrap (September). Purchase of the "Cantenac" to be worked on the Dieppe-Grimsby line, where three new steamships more suitable for the traffic handled were due to be placed in service.


Election of Armand Fallières to the presidency (17 January)
[Creation of a Central Union of Coal Importing Merchants, a move soon copied by manufacturers in the aggregates sector, river or land transport importers, etc.]

Revision of company by-laws (January). Opening of a branch in Rouen (February) from which new shipping services to England or Ireland were planned. Loss of the "Georgette", which sank in the Humber off Grimsby (April).

Organisation of shipping credits and introduction of ship construction bounties (April)

Inauguration with the "Sauternes" of a weekly service between Dunkirk and Hamburg in association with the Le Havre, Rouen and Bordeaux line (July). Efforts to obtain the support of the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord to arrange transport facilities between Dunkirk and Paris. Dispute (resolved in September) with the Danish company, Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab, called to order by Worms regarding "the ever growing need to control traffic between France and Hamburg in the largest possible number of French ports", going on to explain that "if in our advertising we mentioned ports in the Baltic among the towns in Germany for which we issue direct bills of lading for shipments originating in Rouen and Dunkirk (as we have always done from Paris), it was only to be able to meet all the demand from customers shipping to Germany, who also tend to ship to the Baltic". For the rest, it considered the port of Dunkirk "more as an outpost protecting it from attempts to divert traffic from Le Havre than a profitable venture". Plans to create a combined service with the Lequellec line from Algeria to Rouen and with Clamageran for freight to Algeria (July). Organisation of a service calling in Rotterdam on the return leg from Hamburg to Rouen and Dunkirk (October). Sale of the steamer "Hirondelle" for scrap (November). Worms took back direct control of shipping agency activities in Dunkirk previously entrusted to Daher & Cie (December).

Purchase of the steamer "Pervenche". Launch of the "Fronsac" and two other vessels of the same type, the "Listrac" (first ship ordered by Worms from a French shipyard and delivered in February) and the "Pessac" (delivered in December), both vessels suitably adapted to carry a mixture of coal and various other commodities on the Dieppe – Grimsby line. Opening of a branch in Dunkirk. Appointment of Georges Majoux to the post of Shipping Services Manager in Le Havre. Application to the Chemins de Fer du Nord for a "subsidy to cover the cost of calling in Dunkirk…. similar to that granted to companies operating regular lines in competition with the Belgian ports." (January). Acquisition of Nantes-Bordeaux and Nantes-Bayonne services and "all goodwill on the two lines" previously operated by l'Armoricaine (a company in which Worms had had an interest since it was first founded in 1901, and which was hard hit by competition from the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and the Chemins de Fer de l'État). Subsequently, Worms was to announce that it would in future be offering "six sailings per month on set days between Nantes and Bordeaux and vice-versa, and one sailing per week between Nantes and Bayonne and between Bordeaux and Bayonne (in particular, with the "Fronsac") and vice-versa. Later a "service between Nantes and Pasajes, with departure on set days every fortnight" was to be added to these lines (February-March). Opening of a branch in Nantes (April).

Hypolite Worms, aged 19, grandson and namesake of the original founder, entered the company, working in Cardiff for "ten pounds a month performing the most menial tasks".

Commissioning of the "Léoville" (first ship with this name), the sister ship of the "Listrac" and "Pessac". Fierce competition in Port Said, where the number of coal depots had risen from 7 to 9 in 9 years.


Foundation of the general government of French Equatorial Africa (AEF) including Gabon, Middle Congo (now Republic of the Congo), Ubangi-Shari (now the Central Africa Republic) and Chad (January)

Departure of Jules Silvain from the Worms & Cie general partnership and transfer of his shares to Michel Goudchaux and Hypolite Worms (now aged 21 years) both being appointed associates in the partnership alongside Henri Goudchaux and Paul Rouyer. The duration of the company was extended for a further 5 years from 1 January 1911.

Hypolite Worms sent to Port Said to continue his training. Sale of the "Frédéric-Franck". On the strength of its belief that there was an "overwhelming need to defend coastal shipping lines", the Shipping Department was planning to establish a base in Brest and acquire the Compagnie Brestoise de Navigation à Vapeur, for which it made a bid in February. Even before knowing whether this bid would be accepted, the company announced that "in response to urgent demand from [its] customers, [it had] decided to launch a regular service between Dunkirk, Boulogne, Brest, Bordeaux and La Rochelle-Pallice and vice-versa, under the same conditions as on those lines it had long been operating between Rouen, Le Havre, Nantes, Bayonne and Bordeaux, in other words with sailings on set days each week," (Dunkirk on Thursdays and Bordeaux on Tuesdays). The service from Dunkirk would be provided by the "Thérèse-and-Marie" and that from Bordeaux by the "Hypolite-Worms" (March). Decision by the shareholders of the Brestoise to proceed with the sale, not to Worms & Cie, but to Chevillotte. Opening of a branch in Brest. Arrangement with Messrs. Chevillotte Frères, who "would remain agents for the Le Havre to Brest line operated in agreement with them for many years" (April) and "would split tonnage between Dunkirk, Boulogne and Brest, and between Brest and Bordeaux on a fifty-fifty basis." Establishment in Boulogne (May).

Major strike by dockers and railway workers in Cardiff (July-August)
"Agadir crisis", a diplomatic and military clash between Germany and France (July) culminating in the recognition by the two countries of each other's possessions in Africa (November)

Circulars sent to all branches and coal depots asking them to "cut back their deliveries as far as possible to the different steamers they had to supply" because of "the uncertainties facing [the company] regarding when "ships already chartered and waiting in the port of Cardiff would actually be able to sail". Mention of the coal briquette factory in Le Havre.

Sale of the "Pervenche". Purchase of the Norwegian steamers "Freya" and "Kathinka", respectively renamed "Pomerol" and "Pontet-Canet" (the first to bear those names). Marriage in London under Anglican rites of Hypolite Worms and Gladys Mary Lewis Morgan, daughter of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff.

UK miners' strike (March)

Gift "inter vivos" from Emma-Louise Worms, widow of Arthur Delavigne, to her three daughters of her shares in the general partnership in anticipation of their inheritance (July). Birth of Marguerite-Viviane Worms, only daughter of Hypolite and Gladys Worms (October). Commissioning of the "Margaux" built in Dunkirk (November). Carriage on the company's various shipping lines of 534,602 tonnes of freight. The French Navy, which was no longer putting its bunker coal contracts to competitive bidding, nevertheless maintaining its custom of consulting Worms over the choice of producers.


Election of Raymond Poincaré as President of the French Republic (17 January)
Formation of a "triple alliance" in the UK among the unions of the miners, the railway and transport workers. Creation in France of an Under-Secretariat of State for the Merchant Navy, headed by Anatole de Monzie, with whom Hypolite Worms was to establish a working relationship (March)

Order placed with the Ateliers & Chantiers de la Loire in Nantes for 4 cargo steel-hulled vessels equipped with propellers: the "Château-Palmer", "Château-Yquem", "Château-Lafite" and "Château-Latour", all intended for use on the Bordeaux-Le Havre-Hamburg route, the company's most prestigious line with four sailings per month. Bunker coal activities at the Port Said branch reached an all-time high with 1,141 vessels out of a total of 5,079 being supplied. 578,151 tonnes of freight shipped on the various Worms shipping lines in services to Bremen and Hamburg, the company handling nearly all the shipping traffic between France and Northern Germany. Through its branches and agents, it also handled British coal imports through Dieppe, Le Havre, Rouen and Bordeaux.