The most famous fleet of ships engaged in the Indian coolie trade was that belonging to James Nourse Ltd., whose founder - Captain James Nourse - had turned to shipowning after retiring from his former career at sea as a very successful master mariner. Amongst Nourse's first ships were a group of smart little clippers ordered new from various Sunderland yards but, as the business prospered, Nourse needed to increase his tonnage and, in 1889, purchased two large iron full-riggers Avon and Rhone to augment the fleet (for details of Rhone, see lot 599).
Avon had been built on the Clyde for J. Brown of Glasgow and launched in 1884 with the name of Dunolly. Another notable beauty, although slightly smaller than Rhone, she was registered at 1,549 tons gross (1,478 net) and measured 255½ feet in length with a 37½ foot beam. Sold to Nourse in 1889 and rechristened Avon so as to fit in with his fleet named after rivers, she too was fast and recorded her best run from Calcutta to St. Helena in 62 days. When Nourse sold her around 1906, she was purchased by the River Plate Shipping Co., a British line servicing South America, where she remained until 1915 when she passed into American registry.