William Cory & Son Ltd. was formed in London in 1896 following the merger of eight companies in the coal trade.
Cory had a comprehensive business transporting and supplying 5 million tonnes of coal per year to customers in London. The company had a fleet of 2,500 railway wagons and also operated barges on the River Thames. So that the barges did not return empty after delivering coal, Cory used them to carry refuse from London to be dumped in the marshlands of Essex and Kent.
During the First World War, most of Cory’s tugs were requisitioned for the Royal Navy. The company lost fifteen ships, most confirmed sunk by enemy action. In the Second World War fuel supplies were vital to the war effort. Cory colliers sailed in coastal convoys and thirteen of them were lost.
By the 1950s Cory was transporting and supplying fuel oil as well as coal. In 1956 the company began to develop a fleet of barges designed specifically to carry refuse rather than coal. Cory had its own barge-building yard, which produced more than 400 such vessels between 1962 and 1972.
In 1972 William Cory & Son Ltd. was acquired by Ocean Group plc. By the end of the 1970s Cory was the largest waste carrier on the Thames. In the 1980s Cory withdrew from coal and oil distribution altogether, to concentrate solely on waste transport and disposal.
In 1990 the company became Cory Environmental and currently operates in more than thirty locations in England, providing services in the collection, recycling and disposal of waste as well as municipal cleaning.