Our Company

Houlder History

Houlder history dates back to the 1840s. It has been closely associated with the marine and ship building industry ever since.


Houlder celebrates its 30th anniversary as an independent engineering consultancy.


Houlder is named in the Top Five of the Sunday Times International Fast Track 200 list. This is based on a two year average growth in international sales of 182.97%


Houlder was named Design Team of the Year by the British Engineering Excellence Awards for its innovative offshore wind pile handling equipment.


A Houlder Employee Benefit Trust is established. This creates an employee owned business focused on sustainable growth.


Houlder expands its capability by acquiring Naval Architecture business, Hart, Fenton & Company. The Portsmouth based firm was responsible for pioneering fast ferries, offshore vessels, pipe and cable layers, RoRo and Ro-pax ferries and specialist use vessels. The Hart, Fenton & Company team, including its senior management, has been fully integrated into the Houlder business as of 2012.


Houlder leads the consortium that delivers the Strategic Sealift Fleet of RoRo ferries to the UK Ministry of Defence. At the time, the six vessels built in the UK and Germany represented the biggest Private Finance Initiative project in the UK defence sector.


Houlder Limited is formed when Houlder’s technical team launches  as an independent business offering design and engineering services.


CY Tung’s Orient Overseas group acquires Furness Withy. Its Houlder subsidiaries, vessels and assets begin to be sold. The last ship in Houlder history is the coal carrier Oswestry Grange sold in 1985.


Houlder investment in liquefied gas introduced the company to the offshore oil & gas business and it played a key role in the development of the North Sea fields. Initially in close collaboration with Comex, the French diving company this quickly led to a growing stake in owning and operating drilling and subsea support vessels. Pioneering projects during this period of Houlder history included the conversion of ore carrier Oregis to a pipe connection vessel and the design and build of the Uncle John dive support semi submersible named in honour of its designer and company chairman John Houlder.

Houlder History


Houlder joins forces with the French Gazocean Group to provide liquefied petroleum gas carriers. With nine tankers, the company soon becomes the largest operator of these sophisticated vessels operating under the British Flag.


After operating as one of the largest commercial shipping fleets in Northern Europe for several years, Houlder spots an opportunity distributing ore to heavy industry. Houlder Ore Carriers Limited is formed and a specialist fleet of six vessels soon follows.


Ten years after Edwin Houlder’s death  and following a short period of corporate uncertainty, Houlder was acquired by Furness Withy. The company sold its Australian interests and built a fleet of general cargo vessels and refrigerated meat carriers to service routes to South America.


Edwin recruits his brother Alfred and the Houlder Brothers’ Shipping Line is formed. They soon decide that the future lies in buying their own ships as well as chartering tonnage. Quickly embracing steam, they expand their reach to India, South Africa and Argentina.


Edwin becomes a ship and insurance broker in his own right, proving a success as a risk taking entrepreneur. He specialises in the new opportunities presented by trade with Australia.


After his father abandons the family due to gambling debts, young Sussex born Edwin Houlder moves to London to work for a Greek Merchant company.