Belfast is a port
which is visited by ships from all over the world – freight ships,
yachts, tankers, ferries and all manner of craft tie up at Belfast Docks
and await deliveries from their trusted chandlery supplier. Whether they
need deck supplies or essentials for the engine-room, whether the bridge
needs updates to their nautical equipment or the galley needs fresh
produce, W McKay and Sons Ltd can promise a fast and efficient supply
line for any craft visiting Belfast, or any other Irish port.
A ship-chandler is a very important part of marine industry and trade, and allows ships to be supplied wherever they are in the world. The word chandler itself comes from the French word for candle, and this is where the history of ship chandlery as we know it begins.
Samuel Pepys, the world renowned diarist of Renaissance London, wrote about walking past Billingsgate and past the chandleries and other supply depots of London in 1658:
“After he was Clerk of the Acts, Pepys went often to Westminster. A pleasant way of going was by boat, 2 ½ miles up the river from Tower Stairs—past what now is Billinsgate Market, beneath London Bridge against the swift current made dangerous by close-set piers, past wharves and landing cranes and warehouses for coal and oil and ship-chandlery, past the Temple gardens banking on the river.”
Ships needed supplies of candles (and a by–product of the candle industry – soap) when they were at sea. Many a captain read his charts by candle-light, as he approached a foreign shore. Ports developed a brisk trade in ship’s supplies, as international maritime trade increased. It was a very useful trade for ships, as they did not need to source all their supplies themselves, from individual suppliers. Instead, they turned to the ship’s chandler. One chandler could source all the many products needed – everything form rope and chain, to galley supplies and fresh produce.
Whether a chandler was keeping supplies for a Roman Galley in ancient times, wax and ropes for a Victorian clipper, or providing high-end engineering supplies and fresh, local produce for a modern tanker or freighter, the job hasn’t really changed. A chandler cuts out all the middle-men and provides a one-stop service to ships in port. The high-tech world we live in means a ship can email from far out at sea, and their orders can be waiting at dockside for them when they arrive in port.
The range of goods carried by a modern chandlery like W McKay and Sons Ltd is mind-boggling. Not only does a modern ship need all the supplies ships have always needed, but today’s captain needs a massive range of marine safety equipment and marine chemicals, as well as all kinds of engineering supplies. Thankfully W McKay and Sons Ltd are unrivalled in Ireland in their stock and their ability to get it to ships quickly and at discounted prices.