Houston Line

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History

Robert Paterson Houston was born in 1853, the son of a Renfrewshire marine engineer. In due time he also became a marine engineer after being apprenticed in Liverpool. In 1877 he used an inheritance to become a shareholder in a small packet steamer. The venture was successful, and he started his own, R.P. Houston & Company in 1880. Each ship was bought by a separate company with the traditional 64 shares and RPH provided management services.

After initially operating to the East Indies, RPH switched to South America in 1884 built his first ship with facilities to carry frozen from the Argentine to the UK. Passenger services were added in 1885 and a service between New York and South America in 1899.In 1898 the British & South American Steam Navigation Co Ltd was formed and the four existing ships, plus two on order were transferred to the new company. RPH remained managers. The following year the Boer War began and RPH became completely involved, with his whole fleet being chartered by the British Government. This experience led Houston to introduce a post-war triangular service Liverpool – South Africa – South America. This created a furious response from the existing members of the South African Shipping Conference that led to a bitter court case where Houston was successful, but it was not until 1904 that his company was admitted to the Conference.

In 1914 the British & South American Steam Navigation Co Ltd owned 20 ships and although the company only lost 6 of these vessels, it was unable to replace any of the older units in its fleet, as the wartime construction was not up to Houston’s exacting standards. As Houston was 65 years old, he decided to retire and sold the entire RPH business to Cayzer, Irving & Co Ltd for £4 million. As part of the acquisition, British & South American Steam Navigation Co Ltd became a Clan Line subsidiary. The fleet was largely replaced by second-hand ships and inter-group transfers, some of which retained their Clan Line names.

The South American services were sold to Kaye, Son & Co in 1926. This company was a Royal Mail Line subsidiary operated by the Kaye family. Rather confusingly they continued their operations as “Houston Line to South America”. To overcome the identity problem, the RPH company changed its name to Houston Line (London) Limited in 1932.

At the outbreak of WW2, the fleet consisted of 10 ships with either 'H' or Clan names. Only 3 remained at the end of the war. Replacements were purchased, again using both name styles. Houston and the other group companies were merged into British & Commonwealth Shipping Company in 1956. The ownership of the individual ships became increasingly blurred, with transfers being made to meet voyage requirements and Houston Line had disappeared by 1970.

Ships

Haliartus Halizones Harmonides
Hesperia (1919) Hesperia (1946) Hesperides
Hypatia Perthshire

Haliartus

Haliartus
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers Shankland, Russell & Co
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder John Readhead & Sons Ltd
Shipyard South Shields
Country where built UK
Yard Number 10
Official Number 142832
Call Sign KBGW
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 5,281
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 3,150
Length 400 Ft 2"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 52 Ft 4"
Depth 28 Ft 5"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 27", 44", 73" and stroke 48"
Engine Builder John Readhead & Sons Ltd
Engine Builder Works South Shields
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 3 single-ended boilers operating at 180 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 513 NHP
Maximum Speed 11.5

Additional Construction Information

  • 2 steel decks
  • Fitted with electric light
  • Fitted with Wireless direction finding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
31 March 1919 Launched
May 1919 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Wrecked
Service History Information Keel laid down as War Moorhen for the British Government 1919 but completed for Shankland, Russell & Co as Dennistoun. Change of name to Haliartus and owner to British & South American SN Co Ltd 1919. Wrecked at Bull Point, approximately 22 miles W of Mossel Bay on 4 May 1932 whilst en route from the River Tees to Beira with a general cargo.

Halizones

Halizones
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British & South American SN Co Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Ayrshire Dockyard Co Ltd
Shipyard Irvine
Country where built UK
Yard Number 487
Official Number 143626
Call Sign GCKX
Classification Society Lloyds Register
Gross Tonnage 5,298
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 3,137
Length 400 Ft 7"
Overall Length 412 Ft 5"
Breadth or Beam 52 Ft 2"
Depth 28 Ft 5"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 27", 44", 73" and stroke 48"
Engine Builder Dunsmuir & Jackson Ltd
Engine Builder Works Glasgow
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 3 single-ended boilers operating at 180 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 517 NHP
Maximum Speed 12.5

Additional Construction Information

  • 2 steel decks
  • Fitted with radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
5 February 1920 Launched
April 1920 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Act of War)
Service History Information The vessel was bombed by aircraft on 27 July 1943 at approximate position 38° 04' N, 12° 59' W and sank on 30 July 1943 whilst under tow at position 37° 22' N, 13° 03' W. She was en route from Glasgow to Montevideo with a general cargo

Harmonides

Harmonides
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British & South American SN Co Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Ayrshire Dockyard Co Ltd
Shipyard Irvine
Country where built UK
Yard Number 484
Official Number 143610
Call Sign GCKW
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 5,237
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 3,098
Length 400 Ft 2"
Overall Length 412 Ft 5"
Breadth or Beam 52 Ft 3"
Depth 28 Ft 5"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 27", 44", 73" and stroke 48" plus a low pressure exhaust turbine with D.R. gearing and hydraulic coupling
Engine Builder J.G. Kincaid & Co Ltd
Engine Builder Works Greenock
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 3 single-ended boilers operating at 180 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 599 HP
Maximum Speed 11.5

Additional Construction Information

  • 2 steel decks
  • Fitted with radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
11 November 1919 Launched
January 1910 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Sunk/foundered (Act of War)
Service History Information Launched as Hesione but completed as Harmonides. The vessel was torpedoed and sunk on 25 August 1942 by Japanese submarine I-165 at approximate position 1° 47' N, 77° 27' E on 25 August 1942 whilst en route from Calcutta to the USA with a cargo of pig iron, tea, castor oil and linseed oil. 14 seamen lost their lives and are commemorated on the Bombay Chittagong 1939-1945 War Memorial

Hesperia (1919)

Hesperia
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British Government
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder FlensburgerSchiffsb Ges.
Shipyard Flensburg
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 351
Official Number 144661
Call Sign GDKW
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 3,895
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 2,880
Length 384 Ft 5"
Overall Length 399 Ft 5"
Breadth or Beam 52 Ft
Depth 22 Ft 5"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 28 3/4", 46 7/16", 76" and stroke 48"
Engine Builder FlensburgerSchiffsb Ges.
Engine Builder Works Flensburg
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details 3 single-ended boilers operating at 185 psi
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 530 MN
Maximum Speed 12

Additional Construction Information

  • 1 deck and shelter deck with 2nd deck in fore hold
  • Fitted with radio direction finding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
19 May 1919 Launched
December 1919 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Completed for the British Government as Patria. Change of name to Hesperia and owner to British & South American SN Co Ltd 1921, change of name to Christine Marie and owner to Euxine Sg Co Ltd 1938, change of name to Costa Rica and owner to Cargueros Panamenos SA 1947, change of name to Ledsund and owner to Rederi Ab Ledsund 1947. Taken to Hong Kong 21 November 1959 for breaking by Omega Sg Co.

Hesperia (1946)

Hesperia
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Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British & South American SN Co Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Bartram & Sons
Shipyard South Dock Sunderland
Country where built UK
Yard Number 306
Official Number 180865
Call Sign GKXM
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 7,375
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 4,738
Length 431 Ft 2"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 58 Ft 3"
Depth N/K
Draught 38 Ft 1"
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 24½", 39", 70" and stroke 48"
Engine Builder North Eastern Marine Engineering (1938) Ltd.
Engine Builder Works Sunderland
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 2,500 IHP
Maximum Speed 11

Additional Construction Information

  • Cruiser stern
  • Fitted with radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
16 January 1946 Launched
May 1946 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Laid down for the British Government as Empire Southwold but completed as Hesperia. Change of owner to Houston Line Ltd 1957, change of name to Clan Murdoch and owner to Clan Line Steamers Ltd 1960, change of owner to King Line Ltd 1962, change of name to Mustafa and owner to Sadikzade Rusen Ogullari Denizcilik Ltd Sti 1962, change of name to Denizhanlar and owner to Denizhanlar Vapuru Donatma Istiraki 1974. Taken to Aliaga March 1979 for breaking by Zeki Verel.

Hesperides

Hesperides
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British Government
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffsb. Ges.
Shipyard Flensburg
Country where built Germany
Yard Number 353
Official Number 144694
Call Sign DJSZ
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 4,110
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 2,371
Length 383 Ft 4"
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 52 Ft 7"
Depth 22 Ft 4"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 28 3/4", 46 3/8", 76" and stroke 48"
Engine Builder Flensburger Schiffsb. Ges.
Engine Builder Works Flensburg
Engine Builder Country Germany
Boiler Details 3 single-ended boilers
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 527 NHP
Maximum Speed 10

Additional Construction Information

  • 1 deck and shelter deck, 2nd deck in forehold
  • Fitted with radio direction finding equipment

Career Highlights

Date Event
11 December 1919 Launched
July 1920 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Other
Service History Information Completed for the British Government as Parthia. Change of name to Hesperides and owner to British & South American SN Co Ltd 1921, change of name to Bertha Fisser and owner to Reunert & Co GmbH 1937, change of owner to Fisser & v.Doornum Reederei GmbH 1938. The vessel was intercepted by armed merchant cruiser HMS Chitral on 20 November 1939 off Iceland at approximate position 64° 10' N, 15° 14' W. She was scuttled by her crew.

Hypatia

Hypatia
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship
Original Owners and Managers British & South American SN Co Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Palmer's Ship Building & Iron Co Ltd
Shipyard Jarrow
Country where built UK
Yard Number 760
Official Number 115246
Call Sign N/K
Classification Society N/K
Gross Tonnage 5,663
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 3,605
Length 452 Ft
Overall Length N/K
Breadth or Beam 52 Ft 2"
Depth 28 Ft 3"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Cylinders of bore 30", 50", 81 1/2" and stroke 54"
Engine Builder Palmer's Ship Building & Iron Co Ltd
Engine Builder Works Jarrow
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details N/K
Propulsion Type Single Screw
Power 642 NHP
Maximum Speed 14

Career Highlights

Date Event
26 November 1901 Launched
January 1902 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity N/K

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Wrecked
Service History Information Wrecked on Whale Rock, Robben Island on 29 October 1929 whilst en route from Beira to New York with a cargo of chrome ore, copper and general cargo.

Perthshire

Perthshire
Click image for enlarged view

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Cargo Ship (Ref)
Original Owners and Managers Scottish Shire Line Ltd
Country First Registered UK
Shipbuilder Greenock Dockyard Co Ltd
Shipyard Greenock
Country where built UK
Yard Number 424
Official Number 164087
Call Sign GYWK
Classification Society Lloyds Register
Gross Tonnage 10,496
Deadweight (DWT) N/K
Net Tonnage 6,121
Length 477 Ft 1"
Overall Length 498 Ft 5"
Breadth or Beam 66 Ft 2"
Depth 40 Ft 2"
Draught N/K
Engine Type Triple-expansion Steam Engine
Engine Details Two engines each with cylinders of bore 26", 42", 78" and stroke 48" and each with a low pressure turbine with DR gearing and hydraulic coupling
Engine Builder N.E. Marine Engineering Co Ltd
Engine Builder Works Newcastle
Engine Builder Country UK
Boiler Details 6 single-ended boilers operating at 220 psi
Propulsion Type Twin Screw
Power 1,585 MN
Maximum Speed 17

Additional Construction Information

  • 3 decks and cruiser stern
  • Fitted for oil fuel
  • Fitted with radio direction finding and echo sounding equipment. Fitted with gyro compass
  • Refrigeration equipment by J. & E. Hall operating on carbon anhydride system. Brine and air circulation and Gran, and slab cork and silicate cotton insulation

Career Highlights

Date Event
26 March 1936 Launched
July 1936 Completed

Crew and Capacity Information

Item Value
Crew N/K
Passengers N/K
Cargo Capacity 11 refrigeration compartments with capacity of 396,050 cubic feet.

Status and Service History Information

Item Value
Status Broken Up
Service History Information Change of owner to Houston Line Ltd 1960, change of name to Borias and owner to Margalante Cia Naviera SA 1964. Taken to Hirao 1 April 1965 for breaking by Matsukura Kaiji.

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