SS Tungshing, Indo-China Steam Navigation Company – Captain Thomas Selby

Stephen Davies has been researching the period in the early 1900s during which Thomas Selby was master of several ships of the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company. He believes Selby worked for ICSNC from early 1901 through to sometime in 1906.

Thomas Selby photo mate on Cutty Sark

Note the incorrect initial “J”

The Tungshing (a.k.a. Tung Shing and Tongshing) is the vessel that is mostly clearly attached to Thomas Selby’s name. He seems to have skippered her from new because in the Straits Times for 11th June 1903 the Tungshing is listed as having arrived at Singapore 10th June from Barry, Wales, UK (probably with a cargo of coal), which she’d left on 7th May – a pretty fast entry to service given completion just 9 days earlier! So clearly being trusted with a new build meant he was a respected captain.

According to the SCMP archive a Mr & Mrs T.W. Selby were staying at the Kowloon Hotel on 18th Nov. 1903. On 25th Jan 1904 a Capt Selby is skipper of the Tungshing, 1127 tons, Jardine Matheson & Co., arriving in HK on 30th Jan from Chingkiang with a general cargo.
By July 1905 he is the master of the Choysang, 1420 tons (another Wigwam Richardson vessel, built 1902 and sunk in a typhoon just north of Swatow in 1922), but he’s back on the Tungshing  by November, then back on the Choysang again by Feb 1906. On June 19 1906 he’s present as a JM captain at the trials of the new river steamer Loong Wo, built at HWD and appears to be still skipper of the Choysang at that date although on 18th June he’s listed as staying at the Hong Kong Hotel.  The last record of him skippering a ship that’s in port (24th October 1906) is the Choysang that had arrived from Swatow on 22nd. By November 1906 the Choysang’s skipper is called Sandbach.
The Tungshing, built at Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, was launched on 28th January 1903 and completed on 28th April 1903. Her builder was Wigham Richardson & Co. The shipyard was Neptune Yard, Low Walker which had the yard number 402.
The ship’s dimensions were : 1869grt, 1173nrt, 2588dwt, 275.4 x 40.0 x 12.9ft
With Engines: T3cyl (21, 34 & 56 x 42ins), 226nhp made by: Wigham Richardson & Co, Low Walker
Propulsion details: 1 x Screw, 11.5knots (trials)
Construction: Steel
Reg Number: 118263
Contract Price £31326; Loss £692-2s-4d

History: 28/04/1903 Indo-China Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London

“On January 11th, 1926, while outbound from Shanghai, the Empress of Asia collided with the 1,900-ton steamer Tungshing.  The collision occurred near Blackpoint on the Whangpoa River.  The Tungshing was owned by the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company and was bound from Hong Kong to Shanghai.
The Tungshing sank while unsuccessfully attempting to make shore and ten lives were reported lost.
The Empress Of Asia assisted in the rescue of survivors and then returned to Shanghai briefly for repairs to the stem section of the hull that had been damaged in the collision.”(1)

Tungshing - sunk 11.1.26 image empress of asia dot com

Courtesy: Waveryn


  1. Empress of Asia website


  1. Wreck report for collision of Empress of Asia and Tungshing 1926

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Thomas Selby – Cutty Sark, Indo-China Steam Navigation Company and Bullivants
  2. Indo-China Steam Navigation Company 1873-1974


  • valerie winter

    I have a gold bracelet inherited from my Grandmother which is engraved with
    ‘Tung Shing launched 28 January 1903’
    How would she have acquired it I wonder?

  • Peter Cundall

    Quite possibly if she attended the launch ceremony as an honoured guest or even the ship’s sponsor she would have been given it. Did she have any family connections with Indo China SN (Jardine Matheson) or the shipbuilders, Wigham Richardson? If it is solid gold it suggests she, or someone close to her, like say her father or mother were the ship’s sponsors.

    • Hello Peter

      Many thanks for your recent comment responding to Valerie Winter’s query about a gold bracelet inscribed with ship name SSTungshing. I have emailed Valerie letting her know about your comment.

      A merry Christmas to you and yours.

      Best wishes
      Hugh Farmer

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