The year 2005 marks the Tenth Anniversary of "Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine".
The web site began as a text only newsletter known as "Mersey Shipping News" which was uploaded to the UK Forums of the then online service CompuServe appearing for the first time in autumn / winter 1994-5. Generally the newsletter comprised notes and news about the Mersey Shipping scene compiled on a roughly weekly basis.
It is lost in the mists of time when Mersey Shipping News transferred to the World Wide Web, but I recall the transfer took place shortly after CompuServe provided a gateway from their system to the web and granted 5mb of free web space to subscribers.
A very basic HTML upload facility was also provided for the pages which were composed using the Microsoft Word HTML facility.
Microsoft Front Page 98 was obtained and the web site increased in size considerably in 1998 being transferred to a proper web domain www.merseyshipping.co.uk.
Unfortunately between 1998 and summer 2000 the site had to endure two less than reliable ISPs based in Bristol. These companies provided office hours only technical support. This was very inconvenient if the server Front Page Extensions on their servers became deranged at a weekend as it would render it impossible to upload the web site and then take several days for the matter to be resolved.
Following a significant down time of around ten days in June 2000 a move was made to a new London based ISP - Ram Jam Multimedia - this company has provided an excellent service offering as they do 24/7 technical support. Since then, despite the odd gremlin usually caused by your web master, the web site has been available with out a break.
Around the time of the move to Ram Jam the web site name was changed to Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping to reflect the greater area of coverage which had by now extended into the western reaches of the English Channel as far as Dartmouth to the south and as far north as South West Scotland and Northern Ireland in the north.
However, as the Mersey feeds into the Irish Sea, it was soon felt appropriate to modify the name to "Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine" the name change being effected in 2001 with a new web address www.irishseashipping.com being acquired. Though the original www.merseyshipping.co.uk has been retained.
"Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine" has gone from strength to strength over the past ten years. During this time technology has marched on. Expensive dial - up access has given way to cheap, fast broadband. Photography has switched from film to digital. Prior to 2000 when I obtained a digital camera, it could still take several days to illustrate a news story. Now it takes minutes. The digital photographic revolution has enabled Irish Sea Shipping to illustrate many happenings literally months before they have appeared in the printed press.
"Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine" has been responsible for bringing developments, speculation and rumours to the attention of many with nautical interests long before a hard news story has developed. Now whilst sometimes it hasn't been possible to get everything right in this area, there have been more successes than failures. Remember, you probably read it here first!
Over the years "Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine" has grown in size from 5 megabytes in the 1990s to around 200 megabytes or more today.
However, the success of Irish Sea Shipping has not been due entirely to my efforts. I look on my part as merely that of a facilitator and editor. The success of Irish Sea Shipping has been due to the active participation of many, many people with both professional and amateur interests in shipping from around these islands. A number of these people I have still yet to meet in person, though we may have correspond by email for some time.
To these people, who have sent, reports, information, articles, photographs etc. I would like to express deep and sincere gratitude as I am sure would many other regular visitors to "Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine". You have helped make this site the success it is.
I would like to express my grateful thanks for everyone's support.
Here's to the next ten years!
John H. Luxton
January 02, 2005