Apcar & Co flag
Apcar & Co., famous for their ships and coal concerns, weren’t very imaginative when it came to naming their vessels. Several names were duplicated, one of which was ‘Catherine’.
There were three vessels named ‘Catherine Apcar’. The name, of course, is a nod of affection to A.G. Apcar’s wife, Catherine nee Thomas, whom he married in Bombay in 1813.
1st. Catherine Apcar
Catherine Apcar manifest dated 3 March 1849, bags of rice for Mauritius.
Built by master ship-builder, Charles Christopher Poney Gueizelar of Cochin and launched in March 1848. It was 730 tons and made entirely from Malabar Teak to the highest standard and without much consideration to cost. She carried cargoes between India, Mauritius, Hong Kong and Canton. However, in January 1861, whilst sailing from Moulmein to Calcutta and under tow from the steam tug ‘Salween’, she unceremoniously ran aground on a sand bar in the Moulmein River carrying a cargo of teak. The vessel was wrecked, but the cargo was saved.  It had been in service for only 13 years.
Pausing here for a moment, to reflect on the master ship-builder Gueizelar. He was a favoured craftsman of Persian and Arab merchants, yet little is known of him. He was an exceptionally highly skilled man, his vessels were nothing short of works of art. An undervalued and overlooked ship-builder, he passed his talents onto his sons, who also became master marine craftsmen in their own right. One wonders why Aratoon Apcar chose him to create the ‘Catherine’. Perhaps he had already observed the ships made by Gueizelar sailing between Persia and India and their quality of workmanship and the strength of the teak used, and saw how they sailed fair in the conditions. Or maybe he was simply cheaper than the British ship-builders, and materials used were all local and the process quicker. Whatever the case, Gueizelar’s name should be more well known than it is; merchants and their super-cargoes were indebted to his skills.
Walter Robert’s Facebook page helpfully refers to his 2 x great grandfather,
“My great, great grandfather, C.C. Poney Gueizelar, was a captain who landed in Vypeen and settled there. A Swiss-German, he built a shipyard in Vypeen and employed local people. He was a benefactor of Our Lady of Hope Church, Vypeen, and donated land for the cemetery and other land, too. So, he was bestowed the privilege of being buried near the altar on the right in the Church. A close friend of the Maharaja, I believe, was Kerala Varma III. According to the Madras Hurkarrah dated 26 January 1836: A vessel of 500 tons is being built for a Muscat merchant and 5 smaller ones for the Arabs, whilst a pretty large one made for the Bhavnagar Raja is now ready for the sea - all very cheap and durable - a 500-ton costing between 60,000 and 70,000 rupees and Mr Poney Gueizelar is the chief, if not the only builder."
Richard Gueizelar, son of C.C., built Fatteeh Sawad, an 870-ton ship, in 1864. It was decorated like a bride and a bottle of costly attar (Muslim perfume) was smashed on the hull. C.C.'s ships took part in the Crimean war for Britain. His shipyard was where Puncho Paynter resided. C.C. is fondly remembered in K. L. Bernard's Flashes of Fort Cochin. Vale Poney Gueizelar.”
With thanks and full acknowledgement to Walton Walter Raberts for this description.
2nd. Catherine Apcar
Built and launched in April 1865 at Low Walker, Tyne and Wear, England. It was an iron screw steamer made by Messrs. J. Wigham Richardson and Co, weighing just over 1000 tons. She measured 240 feet in length; her beam was 33 feet and her depth was 18 feet. The engines were made by the Spring Garden Works and were 160 horse power. She was fitted with a double bottom for water ballast, and two steam cranes. There was passenger accommodation which included baths and jalousie blinds. Her fate was sealed when, in August 1871, she struck another vessel, just off the coast of Grimsby, and was sunk. The reports suggest the cause was her fault. 
3rd. Catherine Apcar
3rd vessel named Catherine Apcar circ 1900.
Build in Scotland by Messrs D & W Henderson of meadowside, it was launched on the 26th April 1892 the third generation of Catherine Apcar was a steel screw steamer weighing in at 2850 tons and cost approximately £54,000 to build. She was sold in 1912 to the British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd. Two years later, that company was taken over by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. The Catherine Apcar served as an Indian Expeditionary Force transport in WW1. In 1922 she was sold to Shiroto Kenshiro of Tarumi and renamed to Kumamoto Maru. In 1926 she was sold again this time to Syarashi Yokichi and was broken up in 1929.
© Liz chater July 2023