Our history

Somerston’s origins date back to 1854 when Ralph Chapman first went into business as a ship’s agent and manager, taking partial ownership interest as payment.

In the late 1960’s, after over 100 years in the shipping business, Somerston made the decision to diversify its interests.  By 1975, the last of the shipping interests had been sold and property development became the primary focus.

1854
Date of Somerston's origin
100
Number of years in shipping before Somerston diversified its assets
1975
Year that the last of Somerston's shipping assets were sold

Shipping heritage...

Ralph Chapman made investments in various Tea Clippers that he was managing, including “Stornoway, “Isabella” and “Agenoria“. From 1878 onwards the company owned and operated a small fleet of merchant ships, offered prospectuses to attract co-investors and then operated and managed the ships.  At first, these were all sailing ships but soon the company shifted to steamers. In the late 1960’s, after over 100 years in the shipping business, the Somerston Shipping Company made the crucial decision to diversify its interests. By 1975, the last of the shipping interests had been sold and property investment and development had begun.

Tangible memories of the Group’s shipping origin can be seen in the extensive collection of Shipping memorabilia on display at Maritime Gallery of the museum in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and in the Group’s Head Office.