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P and O Line

History

Unlike many of the companies represented in this collection, the problem with P & O is the sheer amount of information available. In part this is because it was both an operating company and the parent of a major Group. As many of its subsidiaries feature elsewhere in the Collection, this history is confined to P & O’s direct operations up to 1971, when all of the ships in the group were transferred into 'Divisions' based upon ship types.

The Peninsula and Orient Steam Navigation Company grew out of a partnership between Brodie McGhie Willcox and Arthur Andersen who started business in the 1820s carrying cargo to Portugal and Spain, mainly in steamships chartered from Richard Bourne, who joined them in 1835. Like most of the pioneer steamship services, the business consistently lost money, so Bourne led a campaign to take over the Mail service to the Iberian peninsular, which at the time was undertaken by inefficient and corrupt sailing packets. It took until 1837 to convince the British Authorities, but the Mail Contract saved the fledgling organisation. The service quickly established a reputation for reliability and in 1840 the partners won another mail contract to extend the service to Alexandria (removing a dependency on the French for overland carriage to Marseille). This required more capital and to raise public funds the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co was incorporated by Royal Charter. In 1843 the service was extended, 150 miles overland to Suez and onwards to India. The East India Company, which had held a monopoly for services from UK to Bombay since the 17th Century refused to allow P & O to use that port and forced P & O to provide its service to Ceylon, Madras and Calcutta. Further contracts were won to carry mail to Singapore, Hong Kong, and in 1852 to Australia. Feeder services were established in the Mediterranean and after the Indian Mutiny P & O was eventually allowed to operate to Bombay.

The sheer scale of the company’s services required significant investment in infrastructure - food and coal supplies, warehouses, ship repairs facilities, lighthouses, the Suez overland facilities, etc. When the Suez Canal opened in 1869 it exposed P & O to competition from companies with lower overheads and the overland facilities were obsolete. P & O met this challenge by ignoring the low cost cargo ships that entered the trade and instead built larger, more luxurious and more efficient ships with compound engines, although the company maintained its technological conservatism. In 1889 however, P & O began operating pure cargo ships to the Far East and as feeder vessels.

In 1910 P & O acquired the Blue Anchor Line, an emigrant service to Australia via the Cape, which it incorporated as its Branch Line. P & O lost 19 of its ships during WW1, but all were replaced. However after a period of prosperity, P & O, like other companies was hit by the Great Depression. The Branch Line emigrant service was closed in 1929. Trade slowly recovered as the 1930s progressed, helped by the British Commonwealth Preference Scheme, but then war broke out again. On 3 September 1939 P & O owned 21 passenger ships and 15 cargo ships. During WW2 11 cargo ships and 8 passenger ships were lost.

After the war, P & O rebuilt its fleet to reflect the post-war political changes. With the end of British rule in India, Bombay no longer had its separate service, but merely became a port-of-call for the Australia service and was omitted entirely after 1961. Only three 28,000 ton passenger liners were built for the Australian service and one 24,000 ton liner for the Far East route, to replace the 8 passenger ships lost during the war. The passenger service was extended across the Pacific to San Francisco in 1958.

Orient Line, the independently managed P & O partner on the Australian route, had been 51% owned by the Group since 1919. In 1960 P & O – Orient Lines (Passenger Services) Ltd was formed to manage the combined fleet. The 49% privately owned shareholding was bought by P & O in 1965 and the Orient ships transferred to P & O ownership. These were its 42,000 ton flagship 'Oriana' (1960), three 28,000 ton post-war liners and one 23,000 pre-war liner. P & O took delivery of its 45,000 ton flagship 'Canberra' in 1961.

The second half of the 1960s was a nightmare for P & O, with the disastrous seamen's strike, dock strikes in most countries in the route network, war between India and Pakistan, severe drought in Australia, the closure of the Suez Canal, a rapid increase in operating costs and a decline in freight rates, growing competition from airlines, the introduction of containerisation, all combining to create huge losses for the company and the group. As a defence the group increasingly invested in non-shipping activities and re-organised its shipping operations in 1971 by consolidating all of its independent shipping companies activities into to three operating divisions to reduce costs – Passenger; General Cargo and Bulk Shipping.

Ships

Vessel Type Launched/Completed Tonnage DWT Builder
Aden Cargo 145,530 G. 11/09/1946. Yard No: 608 Gross: 9943 Net: 5870 10630 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Arcadia Passenger 14/05/1953. Yard No: 675 Gross: 29664 Net: 16077 10646 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Ballarat Cargo / Passenger 580,000 R. 04/09/1920. Gross: 13033 Net: 7950 11300 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Greenock.
Balranald Cargo / Passenger 578,836 G. 24/02/1921. Yard No: 349 Gross: 13039 Net: 7925 11460 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Greenock.
Beltana Passenger 24/01/1912. Yard No: 319 Gross: 11120 Net: 7032 137460 Caird & Co. Ltd. Greenock
Bendigo Cargo / Passenger 580,000 R. 22/01/1922. Gross: 13039 Net: 7939 11300 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Greenock.
Bendigo Cargo / Passenger 739,340 G. 12/08/1954. Yard No: 642 Gross: 8782 Net: 4856 12870 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Canton Cargo / Passenger 382,533 G. 14/04/1938. Yard No: 557 Gross: 16033 Net: 9298 10080 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Canberra Passenger 16/03/1960. Gross: 45733 Net: 24399 10149 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Cannanore Cargo / Passenger 599,060 G. 07/10/1948. Yard No: 712 Gross: 7065 Net: 4026 9730 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Carpentaria Cargo / Passenger 434,420 G. 05/07/1948. Gross: 7268 Net: 4166 9390 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Carthage Cargo / Passenger 370,184 G. 18/08/1931. Yard No: 535 Gross: 14283 Net: 7409 10420 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Cathay No Info 1925??
Cathay Cargo / Passenger 402,232 G. 1957 Gross: 13922 Net: 7572 11053 S.A. Cockerill - Ougree, Hoboken.
Chakdina Cargo / Passenger 470,650 G. Sept 1951. Yard No: 1880 Gross: 7267 Net: 4107 9229 Swan Hunter, Newcastle
Chitral Cargo / Passenger 429,960 G. 27/01/1925. Yard No: 504 Gross: 15228 Net: 8756 10300 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Chitral Cargo / Passenger 510,106 G. July 1956. Gross: 13821 Net: 7628 10961 Soc Anon des Chantiers de Atlantique, St Nazaire
Chusan Cargo / Passenger 454,350 G. 29/06/1949. Yard No: 964 Gross: 24261 Net: 13387 8515 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Barrow
Corfu Cargo / Passenger 329,054 G. Sept 1931. Yard No: 534 Gross: 14280 Net: 7405 10210 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Cormorin No Info 1925??
Coromandel Cargo / Passenger 600,020 G. 20/10/1949. Yard No: 714 Gross: 7065 Net: 4026 9730 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Dongola Passenger 1905 Gross: 8056 Net: 4792 8200 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Empire Fowey Passenger 1935 Gross: 19121 Net: 10779 Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Gambada Cargo (Liquified Gas ) 12/07/1972. Yard No: 1342 Gross: 21357 Net: 11189 22363 Cammell, Laird & Co. Ltd. Birkenhead
Garmula Cargo (Liquified Gas ) 28/04/1972. Yard No: 195 Gross: 32213 Net: 21515 38820 Rosenberg Vaerft A/S Stavanger
Hertford Cargo 255,962 G. 24/03/1948. Yard No: 106 Gross: 11276 Net: 6640 14932 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Barrow
Himalaya Cargo / Passenger 461,350 G. 05/10/1948. Yard No: 951 Gross: 27987 Net: 15386 11000 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Barrow
Iberia Cargo / Passenger 304,260 B. 24/07/1954. Yard No: 1476 Gross: 29614 Net: 15885 9035 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Belfast
Kaiser . I . Hind Cargo / Passenger 223,000 G. 28/06/1914. Yard No: 327 Gross: 11430 Net: 5989 7305 Caird & Co. Ltd. Greenock
Karmala Cargo 523,740 G. 1945. Yard No: 2484 Gross: 7674 Net: 4464 10779 Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyards Inc. Baltimore
Maloja No Info 1923??
Mataura Cargo 18/12/1967. Yard No: 786 Gross: 9504 Net: 4454 11731 Mitsui Zosen, Jamano, Japan
Moldavia Passenger 01/10/1921. Gross: 16436 Net: 101154 Cammell, Laird & Co. Ltd. Birkenhead
Mooltan No Info 1923??
Naldera Cargo / Passenger 253,320 G. 29/12/1917. Yard No: 330 Gross: 15993 Net: 8936 8670 Caird & Co. Ltd. Greenock
Narkunda No Info 1920??
Nurjehan Cargo 29/01/1963. Yard No: 1122 Gross: 8604 Net: 4754 Lithgows Ltd. Port Glasgow
Nyanza Cargo / Passenger 585,000 G. Nov 1956. Yard No: 670 Gross: 8513 Net: 3906 10140 Scotts SB & E. Co. Ltd.
Oronsay No Info
Ottawa Cargo Dec 1964. Gross: 51756 Net: 32805 93072 Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Wallsend
Pando Gulf Cargo / Passenger 688,690 G. April 1957. Yard No: 737 Gross: 8753 Net: 4056 11470 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Pando Strait Cargo / Passenger 564,050 G. 11/06/1952. Yard No: 672 Gross: 9235 Net: 4965 11571 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Patonga Cargo / Passenger 145,415 G. 07/08/1953. Yard No: 637 Gross: 10071 Net: 5898 9777 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Peshawur Cargo / Passenger 460,000 B. 26/09/1919. Gross: 7934 Net: 4935 10800 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Pinjarra Cargo 717,610 G. Aug 1944. Gross: 9888 Net: 6248 12000 Sir James Laing & Sons Ltd. Sunderland
Purnea Cargo / Passenger 493,970 G. June 1947.Yard No: 454 Gross: 5340 Net: 3000 8930 C. Connell & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Rajputana Cargo / Passenger 06/08/1936. Gross: 16644 Net: 9456 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Greenock.
Rawalpindi Cargo / Passenger 356,000 G. 26/03/1925. Yard No: 660 Gross: 16619 Net: 9416 8850 Harland & Wolff Ltd. Greenock.
Salmara Cargo 610,788 G. Nov 1956. Yard No: 687 Gross: 8202 Net: 4440 11300 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Salsette Cargo / Passenger 613,688 G. June 1956. Yard No: 686 Gross: 8202 Net: 4440 11302 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Somali Cargo / Passenger 556,070 G. 22/04/1948. Yard No: 713 Gross: 9080 Net: 4389 11100 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Somerset Cargo 773,000 G. 30/07/1962. Gross: 10057 Net: 5554 10256 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Soudan Cargo / Passenger 650,850 G. 07/10/1947. Yard No: 710 Gross: 9080 Net: 4389 11100 Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Strathallan Cargo / Passenger 406,000 B. 23/03/1937. Gross: 23722 Net: 14134 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Barrow
Strathaird No Info
Strathaird No Info
Strathairlie Cargo 616,210 G. May 1956. Yard No: 585 Gross: 8370 Net: 4827 10300 John Readhead & Sons Ltd. South Shields
Strathardle No Info
Strathconan Cargo 739,000 G. Feb 1967. Gross: 9863 Net: 4740 12786 Mitsui Zosen, Jamano, Japan
Strathduns Cargo 233,318 G. 07/10/1976. Yard No: 457 Gross: 9230 Net: 6103 15088 Austin & Pickergill Ltd. Sunderland
Stratheden Cargo / Passenger 241,250 G. 10/06/1937. Yard No: 722 Gross: 23732 Net: 13465 11000 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Barrow
Strathlairg Cargo / Passenger 470,560 G. Sept 1951. Yard No: 1880 Gross: 7267 Net: 4107 9227 Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. Wallsend
Strathleven Cargo / Passenger 527,450 G. April 1953. Gross: 8284 Net: 4609 10134 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Strathloyal Cargo 610,788 G. Nov 1956. Yard No: 687 Gross: 8202 Net: 4440 11300 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Strathmay Cargo 704,000 G. 1970. Yard No: 21 Gross: 11177 Net: 6098 13318 Swan, Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd. Wallsend
Strathmore Cargo / Passenger 241,405 G. 04/04/1935. Yard No: 698 Gross: 23580 Net: 13159 11000 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Barrow
Strathmuir Cargo 660,000 G. 13/04/1971. Yard No: 24 Gross: 11143 Net: 5947 13300 Swan, Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd. Wallsend
Strathnairn Cargo 769,867 G. 28/12/1962. Yard No: 500 Gross: 9874 Net: 5655 14515 C. Connell & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Strathnaver Cargo / Passenger 149,150 B. 05/02/1931. Gross: 22270 Net: 12546 8183 Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. Barrow
Strathnaver Cargo Nov 1962. Gross: 10051 Net: 5792 C. Connell & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Strathteviot Cargo 729,700 G. 11/09/1961. Yard No: 609 Gross: 10077 Net: 5754 13060 John Readhead & Sons Ltd. South Shields
Strathtruim Cargo 643,500 G. 28/03/1963. Yard No: 527 Gross: 9976 Net: 5793 Wm. Hamilton & Co. Ltd. Glasgow
Sunda Cargo / Passenger 564,050 G. . 11/06/1952. Yard No: 672 Gross: 9235 Net: 4965 11571 John Brown & Co. Ltd. Clydebank
Surat No Info 15/06/1938. Yard No: 561 Gross: 5529 Net: 3253 A. Stephens & Sons. Ltd. Glasgow.
Tekoa Cargo 483,061 R. 08/03/1966. Yard No: 402 Gross: 8226 Net: 4478 11866 Bartram & Sons Ltd. Sunderland


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