The Ranson Period 1887-1921
Fortunately for the Northern Steam Ship Company, James McCosh Clark met Charles Ranson in 1887. Charles Ranson was an English accountant, with experience in the shipping industry. He had come to settle in New Zealand, but he did not find the career and fortune he was hoping for and was contemplating returning to England. After talking with Mr. McCosh Clark, Charles Ranson saw the opportunity he had been looking for. He promised that he could turn the Company around and make a profit, if he was given the opportunity to become Manager.
On 31st May 1888 at the Annual Meeting it was discussed whether the Company should be wound up after four years of consecutive losses. At the next Director's meeting on 6th June, Mr. Cruickshank proposed that Captain McGregor should be removed from the position of Managing Director and that Mr. Charles Ranson should be appointed manager of the Company. This was to become a new era for the Northern Steam Ship Company as Charles Ranson began to re-organize the business.
During the 1900s under Ranson's progressive policies the Northern Steam Ship Company opened up new ports such as Raglan, Katikati, Maketu and Canaan Landing in Te Puke and built wharves at ports not controlled by Harbour Boards. The fleet was gradually enlarged and included a number of fine passenger vessels, such as NGAPUHI and RARAWA, designed by George Gow, who rose to become the Company's new Chief Superintendent. In 1904 the Company decided to introduce a new attraction - the Annual Summer Cruise. This was very popular up until 1908 by which time the novelty had worn off.
The development of railways in New Zealand during this period had an effect on the nature of the Company's services. For instance in 1908 the Main trunk railway between Auckland and Wellington opened and this caused a decline in passenger traffic on the New Plymouth service. The Northern Steam Ship Company and Union Steam Ship Company agreed that there was not enough traffic for two steamers on this service and decided to continue it as a joint service.
Charles Ranson retired in 1921 and was succeeded by Captain Hammond.