Information with Hounsell associations - The Bridport museum files: (Supplied by Reg Hounsell)

The Hounsells and Fishing

The Hounsell's are recorded back to the early 17th Century as being involved in the cordage, twine, canvas and net making trades centred on Bridport, so there is a natural connection between Bridport, Canada (Newfoundland) and America through the fishing industries. This association resulted in some Hounsells emmigrating to the American continent. During the 19th century there was a large growth in the Grand Banks Cod fishing off the coast of Newfoundland, the best details of which are said to be found in Kipling's "Captains Courageous". This was the heyday of shipbuilding in Bridport harbour (now West Bay) where the shipyard turned out many ships up to 1000 tons.

The Mary Hounsell

The first boat named 'Mary Hounsell' was a Brig, built in Bridport 1832/33. She was built to carry Bridport manufactured fishing gear and lines out to the Cod fishing fleets at the 'Grand Banks' off the coast of Newfoundland. Her return cargo was Salt (dried) cod. Unfortunately, she had a short life, being lost at sea early in her career. A second "Mary Hounsell" was built in 1842, by Michael Kearney of St John's, Newfoundland and registered in Bridport on 16 August 1843. It was owned by Thomas Collins Hounsell of Bridport and used to carry out lines, twines and nets, returning with cargo such as salt cod and cod liver oil" There is a picture and model of the boat in the museum and The Bridport & West Bay Guide published by West Dorset Council says of the "Mary Hounsell" a sailing ship which is depicted in the inside window of St John's Church, West Bay

The Hounsell Industries

The records show as early as 1670, William Hounsell set up a spinning mill, although factory machinery would have been crude compared with today. Any 'machinery' would not have been water driven at this time. This company manufactured hemp yarns and fishing twines until amalgamation into Hounsells (Bridport) Ltd in 1913. I assume this is the Wm. Hounsell & Co shown in existence by the end of the 18th Century.

Herbert E. Hounsell & Co. claims a history dating back to the 17th century.

Rendall & Coombs had a spinning mill at Burton Bradstock by 1800. Together with Pymore Mill they joined the Hounsell family as the spinners of the district.

Samuel Gundry and his successors were merchant financiers providing much of the initial capital for the many small family concerns that were spread throughout Bridport and surrounding villages. There is much evidence of organised workings through a 'community of craftsmen' as opposed to individual families working alone. From this developed 'Rope walks' & net making areas of Bridport. In the 19th century, some families did manage to accumulate capital themselves and many small companies were formed. If you go to Bridport now you will probably not see any Industry with the name Hounsell. However, you will see the firm of GUNDRY. This is now almost all that remains of the many companies, including Wm Hounsell and Co, Herbert E. Hounsell and Co, Robert Hounsell and Co that over 200 years amalgamated firstly into Hounsells (Bridport) Ltd between 1910 and 1914. Then in 1947 becoming Bridport Industries Ltd. This in turn became Bridport Gundry, but had a 'Hounsell' division to which the 'Dolphin' trademark is one of the earliest registered (no 2626). The 'Dolphin Cuttyhunk' linen fishing line has been used in many World record catches.

Robert Hounsell & Co. was still in existence in 1935 as a twine manufacturer.