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Cosens & Co
Captain Joseph Cosens, a newly established provider of coastal excursions, and newspaper proprietor Mr J Drew established Cosens & Co in 1852 to operate steamships between their home port of Weymouth and Portland. Captain Cosens and his younger brother William were experienced sailors having been engaged in the coastal trade and chartered their first vessel, the tug Highland Maid, to capitalise on the need for a good link to the new naval dockyard at Portland. As well as carryinging goods and employees, Cosens also carried numerous sightseers to the new facility, putting their new vessels Princess and later Prince on the run. With the 120-ft Prince, excursions were offered further afield along the Dorset coast and also across the channel to France.

In 1858, the two vessels of their local competitor Philip Dodson were taken over and two years later the interests of John Tizard were incorporated into the Cosens concern.

Cosens went on to dominate the excursion scene at Weymouth and the popular resort of Bournemouth, seeing off competition from the Bournemouth, Swanage & Poole Steam Packet Co and taking over their PS Brodick Castle. Cosens became a limited company in 1876, soon after the deaths of Joseph Cozens and John Tizard, and continued to expand its other interesta,of ship repair and general engineering, coal trading, ice import and manufacturage and cold storage. Shipping interests also included towage and salvage for which they owned paddle tugs which could, if required, be used for passenger services.

Cosens were not able to have everything their own way and the Southampton-based Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company increasingly placed vessels at Bournemouth. In the 1930s there evolved some cooperation between the two companies and in 1946, Cosens became a subsidiary of the Southampton company. The two companies' services then operated under separate flags although not in direct competition.

Cosens steamers continued to serve the existing trade with an increasingly outdated fleet. The one post-war addition was Monarch in 1951, a former Solent ferry which was already 27 years old but became Cosens' youngest vessel (the last ship ordered new by Cosens had been the Majestic of 1901 which was lost in 1916). From 1964, the 53-year old PS Embassy was the sole fleet survivor struggling on to make her last sailing in September of 1966.

The company's other interests, including steel fabrication, continued until Cosens Engineering Ltd went into receivership in 1999.

Vessels with dates of Cosens ownership:

Princess (1848-1853)
Prince (1852-1888)
Premier (1860-1938)
Bannockburn (1860-1869)
Empress (1879-1958)
Victoria (1884-1953)
Monarch (1888-1950)
Majestic (1901-1916)
Brodick Castle (1901-1910)
Emperor of India (1908-1957)
Alexandra (1915-1931)
Consul (1937-1963)
Embassy (1937-1967)
Monarch (1951-1961)

Wave Queen (on charter in 1852)
Audrey (on charter in 1911)
Lord Roberts (on charter in 1911)

Paddle Tug/Tenders

Highland Maid (on charter in 1848)

Tug/passenger vessels taken over from P Dodson in 1858:
Contractor (1858-1863)
Ocean Bride (1858-1865)

Commodore (1863-1890)
Queen (1883-1920)
Albert Victor (1889-1928)
Helper (1910-1920)
Melcombe Regis (1913-1923)

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