Malwa (1908)



The name Malwa was used by P & O Line for three ships:

  • A passenger liner completed in 1873 and broken up in 1900
  • A passenger/refrigerated cargo ship completed in 1903 and described on this page
  • A tanker completed in 1961 and broken up in 1976.

Malwa was the seventh of 10 'M Class' P & O passenger ships to be built before the start of WW1 and another built at Greenock by Caird & Co. At the time she was the largest P & O vessel to be built at Greenock and was named after a former state in India. In fact P&O wanted to name her Medina but there were objections to this as the name was in use.

Malwa served with P & O as a passenger liner until requisitioned by the Admiralty in WW1 in early 1917 to become HMAT Malwa (His Majesty's Australian Transport). She was returned to the Australia service in 1920 and continued to operate until broken up in 1932.

Malwa. Allan C. Green Ref. H91.325/1413 [15]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo/Passenger Ship (Ref)
Original Owners and Managers The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Caird & Co Ltd
Shipyard Greenock
Country where built UK
Yard Number 315
Official Number 127543
Call Sign signal letters HNKL
Classification Society Lloyd's Register
Gross Tonnage 10,883
Deadweight (DWT) 7060
Net Tonnage 5,904
Length 540 Ft
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 61.3 Ft
Depth 24.6 Ft
Draught N/K
Engine Type Quadruple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details 2 engines each with cylinders of bore 30.5", 44", 61", 87" and stroke 54"
Engine Builder Caird & Co Ltd
Engine Builder Works Greenock
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 4 double-ended and 4 single-ended boilers
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power 1,847 NHP
Maximum Speed 18
Cost of Vessel £308,455
Crew 376
Passengers 400 first class, 200 second class
Cargo Capacity 203,041 Cu. Ft. inc 85,964 refrigerated
Malwa. Allan C. Green Ref. H91.325/605 [15]

Additional Construction Information

  • 2 decks and spar deck
  • Fitted with electric lighting
  • Fitted with submarine signalling system
  • Fitted with wireless direction finding equipment

The public rooms were designed by T.E.Colcutt like the other members of 'M Class' and the First Class music saloon had four panel paintings by the artist Professor Gerald Edward Moira representing Eastern and Western dancing and Oriental and Occidental music. The music saloons were made available for both sexes and allowed smoking. Presumably in previous vessels they must have had single-sex timeslots in the music saloons which seems very strange nowadays.

The 'Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette' described the launch on 10 October 1908.

Cutting from 'Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette' [2]

Career Highlights

Date Event
10 Oct 1908 Launched in a low-key ceremony with naming performed by Miss Constance M.J. Caird
20 Dec 1908 Completed
29 Jan 1909 Maiden voyage to Australia
Early 1917 Requisitioned by the Admiralty and served as HMAT Malwa
1920 Refitted and returned to P&O
16 Dec 1932 Taken for breaking up

Below is a selection of postcards showing Malwa. Most postcards seem to be generic pictures and would be used by passengers to write home. I have virtually identical postcards like the first of these with different ship names on.

Postcard Postcard Postcard
Postcards showing Malwa [14]

Malwa is the main subject of this oil painting by William Wylie and shows her at Kronstadt just outside St. Petersburg. She was on a pleasure cruise before the outbreak of war.

Painting of Malwa [103]

Service Pre-WW1

'Lloyd's List' and many newspapers carried notification from P&O of the departure of Malwa on her maiden voyage on 29 January 1909. The chairman and Directors of P&O hosted a luncheon for 300 invited guests two days before the departure. Like Morea before her, the company were confident enough to plan the vessel's maiden voyage to Australia rather than India as with the earlier 'M Class' ships.

Cutting from 'Lloyd's List' [10]

On 3 May 1909 the 'Dublin Daily Express' reported that P&O vessels Malwa, Mantua and Morea were being fitted with Marconi radio equipment.Malwa was first in line and expected to have the equipment operational by the time of her voyage on 20 May 1909.

On 10 May 1909 the 'London Evening Standard' carried a brief notice that Malwa and other vessels would be providing 'pleasure cruises'.

Cutting from 'London Evening Standard' [39]

Details of the cruises were published on 12 May 1909 in many newspapers including the 'Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer'.

Cutting from 'Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer' [40]

From September 1909 Malwa was back on the Australia route and in February 1910 became the first P&O liner to visit New Zealand and brought Lord Kitchener back to the UK from Aukland on 17 February 1910.

On 7 July 1910 there was a collision between Malwa and Nairn about 23 miles from Columbo but little damage was reported initially.

Cutting from the 'Gloucestershire Echo' [41]

A later account published in 'The Englishman's Overland Mail' on 21 July 1910 made it clear that the damage was far more serious. Malwa suffered relatively minor damage above the waterline, with temporary repairs being carried out at Columbo but Nairn is reported to have had her bows badly stoved in.

Cutting from 'The Englishman's Overland Mail' [42]

Service during WW1

For the first years of the war Malwa continued to operate on the UK to Australia route though with fewer sailings.

She was requisitioned by the Admiralty in early 1917 for use as a troopship and become HMAT Malwa (His Majesty's Australian Transport).

On May 12 1917 HMAT Malwa had a lucky escape when a torpedo missed her rudder by just 3 feet.

On 30 Nov 1917, whilst in the Irish Sea, a lookout spotted the conning tower of a submarine. HMAT Malwa reversed and an escort dropped depth charges and shortly afterwards HMAT Malwa struck 'a long dark object' - thought to be a second submarine. The damage to Malwa was slight and she was able to continue her journey.

Towards the end of the war, HMAT Malwa was deployed on convoys in the Mediterranean area and as far as Istanbul (then called Constantinople). She had her third encounter with submarines when on 22 September 1918 a lookout spotted the track of an approaching torpedo. Evasive action was taken and the torpedo glanced the side without exploding - a truly lucky escape.

Service Post-WW1

Malwa was given a major refit and rapidly returned to P&O. She was able to recommence trips to Australia and made the first on 24 September 1920.

Below is a further selection of postcards showing Malwa. The first of these is French.

Postcard Postcard Postcard
Postcards showing Malwa [14]


From 1921 onwards P&O introduced newer vessels and Malwa was used more on the routes to the Far East. Having been sold to breakers on 4 October 1932 for £20,000, she made her last voyage from Tilbury on 21 October 1932 with a full complement of passengers and cargo.

On 16 December 1932 she was delivered to Kishimoto Kisen K K, Japan at Kobe and was later broken up at Osaka.

Website designed and coded by Brian Watson using PHP, HTML & CSS.
I can be contacted via Feedback