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Curries own "House Flag" used on his shipping line
Sir Donald Currie GCMG (17 September 182513 April 1909) was a Britishmarker shipowner.

Currie was born in Greenockmarker, Scotlandmarker. However, he spent his school days in Belfastmarker at the Belfast Academy and later at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and at a very early age he was employed in the office of a shipowner in that port. At the age of eighteen he left Scotlandmarker for Liverpoolmarker, where shipping business offered more scope. By a fortunate chance he attracted the notice of the chief partner in the newly started Cunard steamship line, who found him a post in that company. In 1849 the Cunard Company started a service between Le Havremarker and Liverpool to connect with their transatlantic service. Currie was appointed Cunard's agent at Havre and Parismarker, and secured for his firm a large share of the freight traffic between Francemarker and the United Statesmarker.

In about 1856 he returned to Liverpool and held an important position at the Cunard Company's headquarters. In 1862 he determined to strike out for himself, and leaving the Cunard established the Castle Shipping Line of sailing-ships between Liverpool and Calcuttamarker. Business prospered and 1864 Currie found it profitable to substitute Liverpool for Londonmarker. He not only made the capital the home port for his vessels, but he himself also settled in London. The London ship repair yards of the Castle Shipping Line, under the trading name of Donald Currie & Co., were founded on the banks of the River Lea, on the opposite bank from Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co.marker Ltdmarker.

In 1872 he came to the conclusion, after a careful study of all the circumstances, that the development of Cape Colony justified the starting of a new line of steamers between Englandmarker and South Africa. After 1876 Currie divided the South African mail contract with their business rivals, the older Union Line, and created the Castle Mail Packet Company, with the offices located at the Castle Shipping Line headquarters. In 1900 Castle Shipping Line and Union Line would merge and become the Union-Castle Line.

Currie's intimate knowledge of South African conditions and persons was, on several occasions, of material service to the British government. His acquaintance with Sir John Brand, the president of what was then the Orange Free Statemarker, caused him to be entrusted by the home government with the negotiations in a dispute concerning the ownership of the Kimberleymarker diamond-fields, which were brought to a successful conclusion. He also introduced the two Transvaal deputations which came to England in 1877 and 1878 to protest against annexation. Though his suggestions for a settlement were disregarded by the government of the day, the terms on which the Transvaal was subsequently restored to the Boers, agreed essentially with those Currie had advised.

The first news of the disastrous 1879 Battle of Isandlwanamarker in the Zulu War was given to the home government through Donald Currie's agency. At that time there was no cable between England and South Africa, and the news was sent by a Castle liner to St Vincentmarker, and telegraphed thence to Currie. At the same time by diverting his outward mail-boat from its ordinary course to St Vincent, he enabled the government to telegraph immediate instructions to that island for conveyance thence by the mail, thus saving serious delay, and preventing the annihilation of the British garrison at Eshowemarker. In 1880 Currie strongly urged the British admiralty to utilize certain of his fast steamers as armed cruisers in war-time, and this soon became an official arrangement.

In the same year he was returned to parliament as Liberal member for Perthshire, and in 1881 for services rendered during the Zulu War he was rewarded with a knighthood (KCMG). Although he was a strong personal friend of Prime Minister Gladstone, he was unable to agree to his position on the Home Rule question, and from 1885 to 1900 Sir Donald Currie represented West Perthshire as a Unionist.

In 1890 the company's ship Dunottar Castle made its maiden voyage, taking the British Rugby Team on a tour of South Africa. Currie had accompanied the team and presented the South African Rugby Board with a gold trophy to be used for internal competition. At the end of the tour the British team presented the Currie Cup to Griqualand West, the province they believed had produced the best performance of the tour. The Currie Cup is contested to this day. The Dunottar Castle would also carry General Buller and 1,500 soldiers to the Boer War in 1900.

In September 1892 Currie formed Castle Swifts F.C. who became the first professional football club in Essex. The team was initially drawn from his mainly Scottish work force. Castle Swifts would have great relevance in the early history of Thames Ironworks, the team who would later become West Ham. The Castles' first home ground, a field located opposite the West Hammarker Police Station in West Ham Lane was named Dunottar Park, after the Castle Line company's ship. The team were disbanded at the end of March 1895, after Currie decided to withdraw his financial backing.

In 1897 Sir Donald Currie was promoted within the Order of St Michael and St George to the rank of Knight Grand Cross (GCMG).

In 1906 Sir Donald Currie endowed at his old school Belfast Royal Academy the school's most prestigious scholarship. The scholarship is known as the Sir Donald Currie Scholarship. In addition the Academy named a House in his memory.

Donald Currie died in Sidmouthmarker in 1909.

Glenlyon and Fortingall

The attractive Perthshiremarker village of Fortingallmarker, with its large hotel adjoining the churchyard, was built 1890-91 by Currie, who bought the Glenlyon Estate, including the village, in 1885. It was designed by architect James M MacLaren (1853-90) and is increasingly appreciated as one of the most important examples of 'Arts and Crafts movement' style in Scotlandmarker.


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