Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,152 pages of information and 245,599 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co

From Graces Guide
April 1893.
1894. SS India.
1920. P. and O. Liner Naldera
March 1936.
1938. "Canton" Liner, Builders Alexander Stephen and Sons.
1939. Turbine machinery for Liner "Strathallan".
1939. Liner "Strathallan".
1939. Motor Troopship Ettrick.
1939. "Canton".
1948. HMS Himalaya.
1950. "Chusan"
1951. "Chusan"
October 1957.
February 1960.
August 1961. P and O Orient Lines.
1966. P. and O. Group head office construction in the City of London.

of 122 Leadenhall Street, London.

1822 Brodie McGhie Willcox and Arthur Anderson proposed a steamer service to India. The Governor of Calcutta, Lord Amherst, promised a reward for the first journey in less than 70 days.

1835 Captain Richard Bourne RN, MD of the Dublin and London Steam Navigation Co, negotiated with the Spanish government aiming to start a steamer service to the Iberian peninsula.

1837 the Peninsular Co was founded by Bourne in association with Arthur Anderson, Sir John Campbell, Francis Carleton, Joseph C. Ewart, Capt Samuel Thornton, Robert Thurburn, Brodie M'Ghie Willcox, James Hartley, Charles Wye Williams and Peter John De Zulueta[1] and received a contract from the British government for a mail service from Falmouth to Gibraltar.

1837 Won contract from the British government to carry mail from London to Spain and Portugal

Francis Humphreys (sic), marine engineer of the company, originated the concept of the trunk engine[2]

1837 the Governor-General of India, Lord William Bentinck, asked Willcox and Anderson if they could establish a service from Suez to India.

c.1840 Incorporated the Transatlantic Steamship Co including its steam vessels, the Great Liverpool and the Oriental.

1840 Second government contract to Alexandria. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was incorporated by royal charter. [3]

1840 Bought a small river boat for the Nile called the Lotos which was fitted with oscillating engines by John Penn. The tests were inspected by Captain Bourne and his son, John Bourne, on behalf of the company, which then ordered 3 sea-going vessels using that type of engine[4]. Another company vessel on the Nile was the Cairo.

1842 Connected to/from India by means of an overland journey to Port Suez and thence by ship.

1845 P&O services were extended to Singapore and the Far East

1850s The company took advantage of advances in shipbuilding technology such as iron hulls and screw propellers, rebuilding or refitting the fleet. Andrew Lamb was superintendent engineer[5]

1852 Bi-monthly Singapore to Australia service.

1853 Southampton - Capetown - Australia sailings were started.

Crimea War - the company played a major role in transporting troops to the Crimea

1860 The SS Mooltan was built for Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co by Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co with compound engines by Humphrys, Tennant and Co[6], making P&O the second shipping company to use them. Humphrys, Tennant and Co supplied compound engines for many of the company's ships

When the Suez Canal opened, the company found it had the wrong type of ships so it had to order larger and faster ships to stay competitive[7]

1904 The company began cruising as a response to falling passenger numbers in the traditional low season for liner voyages. The Company invested heavily in the new venture but by 1910 the income from the touring business was still showing a poor return[8]

1910 Purchased the fleet and goodwill of the Blue Anchor Line which became the P&O Branch Line providing an alternative route to Australia, via Africa and the Cape, greater cargo capacity and a new and different class of passenger.

1914 the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company. Amalgamated with British India Steam Navigation Co.

1916 Acquired the New Zealand Shipping Co and the Federal Line

1917 Acquired the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand, the Nourse Line and Hain Steamship Co

1919 Acquired controlling interest in the Orient Line, British India Steam Navigation Co and took control of the Eastern and Australasian Steam Ship Co.

1920 Purchased the General Steam Navigation Co.

1922 Loss of The Egypt. [9]

1926 Mr R. T. Clarke appointed as Superintendent-Engineer

1930 See P and O Tours

1934 British India Steam Navigation Co acquired a controlling interest in Asiatic Steam Navigation Co.

1935 Acquired Moss Hutchinson Line.

1935 Both Asiatic and Mogul Line became part of the P&O Group

1958 Formed the trans-Pacific service which was called the Orient and Pacific Line.

1960 P&O and Orient Line were formally merged in 1960 to form P&O-Orient Lines; the name Orient and Pacific Line was dropped.

1960 Mogul was sold to Indian interests

1971 Major restructuring of the P&O Group into "operating divisions". The P&O General Cargo division was formed to operate the cargo ships as one fleet including the remaining cargo liners and passenger/cargo ships in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf; the educational cruising was operated by the new Passenger Division.

1972 the Strick Line was purchased

1974 Acquired Bovis, a diversification of interests outside shipping.

1974 Princess Cruises was purchased.

1983 in the face of a hostile bid from Trafalgar House Plc, salvation lay in further diversification and a merger with Sterling Guarantee Trust.

The Company's interests expanded into a wide variety of non-shipping activities including housebuilding, oil exploration, road haulage, exhibition centres and Barrier Reef resorts. P&O's passenger fleet was focused on cruising and bulk carriers; container ships replaced the old cargo trades.

1987 Acquired a majority holding in European Ferries Group

1990s Port operations in and around Australia and Logistics became an increasingly important focus as the company sold many of its "non-core" assets.

1997 Operating divisions:[10]

  • P&O Ferries operates passenger and freight ferry services between mainland Great Britain and the Continent, Northern Ireland and the Orkney and Shetland Islands.
  • P&O European Transport Services is a road freight transport and warehousing concern, which operates a number of roll on/roll off vessels for the maritime leg of its international road transport services.
  • P&O Cruises operates a leisure cruise business.
  • P&O owns 50 per cent of a deep sea container shipping operation, P&O Nedlloyd.
  • P&O Bulk Shipping operates deep sea dry bulk vessels.
  • P&O Australia has various areas of business including port management and handling services, cleaning and catering and cold storage.
  • The Earl's Court and Olympia division includes international exhibition management and other service businesses.
  • The Bovis Homes and Bovis Construction Group divisions are respectively involved in housebuilding and construction.
  • The Property division has a large portfolio of commercial property and carries out both property investment and development.

2000 P&O's cruising operations were demerged in October 2000 as an independent company, P&O Princess Cruises, which was later acquired by Carnival Corporation in 2003.

2005 P&O's last interests in the container shipping joint venture, P&O Nedlloyd, was sold to Maersk.

2006 P&O was one of the largest port operators in the world; together with P&O Ferries, P&O Ferrymasters, P&O Maritime Services, P&O Cold Logistics and its British property interests, the company was acquired by DP World.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. London Standard, 18 January 1841
  2. The Times, Oct 19, 1858
  3. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  4. The Engineer 1878/10/04 p.242
  5. Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire, 1855
  6. The Times, Oct 06, 1860
  7. The Times, November 01, 2005
  8. P&O Heritage [1]
  9. The Engineer 1922/06/02
  10. [2] Monopolies Commission report
  • The Ships List [3]
  • P&O Heritage [4]
  • Red Duster [5]