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Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge Français (Shipping company, France)

Last modified: 2013-07-27 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge]

House flag of Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge - Image by Ivan Sache, 18 February 2004

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History of Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge Français

Henry Bergasse (1821-1901) founded the Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge Français in June 1899, in order to operate big cargo steamers between Marseilles, Algeria, Rouen, Calais and Dunkirk. The ships transported soap, wine and other stuff shipped from the Far-East by the Messageries Maritimes. The return cargo was made of sugar and manufactured goods for northern Africa, southern France and countries beyond the canal of Suez. Sea shipping was slow but much less expensive than railway transport for big cargoes.
In November 1903, SS Vesper ran aground in Ushant (Brittany) and the wine cargo was looted by the islandser. In 1905, the company opened a freight line to Indochina and Haiphong. In 1912, the assets of the company and its four ships were sold to the Compagnie de Navigation Mixte.

Source: Paul Bois. Armements marseillais - Compagnies de navigation et navires à vapeur (1831-1988), published by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marseille-Provence [boi03].

Henry Bergasse joined in 1840 his father's wine business, which he directed in 1854. He owned six sailing ships in 1860, and subsequently founded and/or presided several big companies in Marseilles, including:
- Société Marseillaise de Crédit (bank);
- Société Générale des Transports Maritimes (shipping company);
- Raffinerie de Sucre Saint-Louis (sugar mill);
- Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge;
- Compagnie des Docks (port agency);
- Société Immobilière (real estate company);
- Huileries et Savonneries Méridionales (oil and soap manufacture).
He was also director or member of the board of several other companies, including:
- Société des Grands Travaux de Marseille (civil engineering);
- Mines des Alpes (mines);
- Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée (ironworks);
- Compagnie Générale des Pétroles (oil);
- Société des Produits Chimiques du Midi (chemicals);
- Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes (shipping company);
- Banque de France (the State bank).

Bergasse was member of the Chamber of Commerce of Marseilles; he chaired the Committee of the Marseilles Shipowners from 1860 to 1866 and from 1869 to 1872. Highly respected, he was appointed as a mediator during the big seamen's strike that broke out in 1900.
Bergasse supported the Legitimist party (Bourbonist) and founded the newspaper Le Citoyen (The Citizen). He led the delegation from Marseilles who attempted to convince the Count of Chambord to accept the throne of France (and the Tricolore flag!), to no avail.
Bergasse was extremely wealthy (it was said that he had as many millions as daughters - and he had eight daughters) and very devoted to the poor.

Source: Pierre Guiral & Félix Reynaud (Eds.). Les Marseillais dans l'histoire, Privat (Toulouse, 1988)

Ivan Sache, 25 January 2005

House flag of Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge Français

P. Bois [boi03] shows the house flag of Compagnie des Vapeurs de Charge Français as white with a blue star surrounded by a red ring.

Ivan Sache, 18 February 2004