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British shipping companies (G)

Last modified: 2021-05-29 by rob raeside
Keywords: geest line | galgate co. | general steam navigation co. | gsnc | globe |
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John Gaff & Co.

[John Gaff & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 20 March 2008

Lloyds Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of "John Gaff & Co." (#45, p. 39), a company based in Glasgow, as white with a blue saltire charged in the middle with a red letter "G".
Ivan Sache
, 12 March 2008 

Galbraith, Pembroke & Co.

[Galbraith, Pembroke & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 29 March 2008

Lloyds Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of "Galbraith, Pembroke & Co. " (#127, p. 43), a company based in London, as divided per saltire white-red-white-blue.
Ivan Sache, 29 March 2008 

The company was formed in 1877 to trade mostly to the Mediterranean. A short lived venture into tankers was attempted in 1895 but these ships were sold in 1899-1900. The tramp fleet expanded rapidly and in 1897 were registered under the ownership of Austin Friars Steamship Co. By this time the company was trading worldwide and by 1914 owned thirteen ships, but lost three during the Great War.
In 1919 the fleet was sold to Houlder, Middleton & Co who traded the Austin Friars SS Co until 1921 when it went out of business. Galbraith, Pembroke & Co withdrew from ship owning during the inter war years but continued as ship brokers until 1940 when they purchased three old ships. The Basra Steam Shipping Co was formed in 1945 and operated until 1952 when it was sold to Graig Shipping Co, Cardiff. Galbraith, Pembroke & Co returned to ship broking and are still in business.
Mariners L

Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Galgate Co., Ltd. (John Joyce & Co.)

[Galgate Co., Ltd. (John Joyce & Co.) houseflag] image by Ivan Sache

Galgate Co., Ltd. (John Joyce & Co.), Liverpool
The flag is red with a white saltire and J (blue) in the middle of the saltire.
Source: 1911 Lloyd's flagbook, as illustrated at The Mystic Seaport Foundation.
Ivan Sache, 24 January 2004

Game Cock Steam Towing Co.

[Game Cock Steam Towing Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Game Cock Steam Towing Co. (#1856, p. 125), a Gravesend-based tugging company, as blue with a yellow game cock in the center.
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Gamecock Tugs Ltd.

[Galgate Co., Ltd. (Gamecock Tugs Ltd.) houseflag] image by Eugene Ipavec,

[Galgate Co., Ltd. (Gamecock Tugs Ltd.) houseflag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 17 February 2009

Gamecock Tugs Ltd (or Steam Towing Co.) is described on
“The Gamecock Steam Towing Company was formed in 1880, originally being a consortium of London River Pilots. In 1928, a company with Turkish roots, The Ocean Towage And Salvage Company Ltd acquired Gamecock, but they continued to trade under their own name. In 1950 they became part of the Ship Towage [London] Ltd combine.”
Gamecock’s contribution to Ship Towage was four vessels.

The images above are based on the on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels: No. 1856 ‘Game Cock [sic, jm] Steam Towing Co., Gravesend’. Blue flag with yellow cock or rooster, standing, facing the hoist.
The Hull Museums Collections’ poster by H.H. Rodmell shows a modern rendition of above house flag. Easiest reached by filling in “rodmell” in the search box:, then selecting the first item: third picture on page. This has a different blue colour and the fowl is standing on a ground, also yellow: a difference in design, however small.
Jan Mertens, 15 February 2009

James Gardiner & Co.

[James Gardiner & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

William Guthrie Gardiner (c1848-1935) was one of the [Glasgow] University's most generous benefactors. With his younger brother Sir Frederick Crombie Gardiner, he endowed the Gardiner chairs of Music (founded 1928), Physiological Chemistry (1919 - renamed Biochemistry in 1958), Bacteriology (1919, renamed Immunology in 1990)), Organic Chemistry (1919, the restriction removed in 1942 and the Chair simply named the Gardiner Chair of Chemistry) and the Gardiner Chair in the Pathology of Diseases of Infancy and Childhood (1928). The brothers had endowed a lectureship in Organic Chemistry in 1898. The cost of building the Gardiner Institute of Medicine, which opened in 1938, was met from their bequests.

Gardiner was a shipowner who founded James Gardiner & Co with his brothers Frederick and James c1880. They sold their company at the end of the First World War. Gardiner lived in Stirling, where he supported several local charities and served as a President of Stirling Royal Infirmary. He bequeathed £10,000 to the University to fund research scholarships in science and medical subjects.
University of Glasgow

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of James Gardiner & Co. (#44, p. 39) as swallow-tailed, blue with a white border and a blue "G" in the center.
Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Gardline Shipping Ltd.

[Gardline Shipping Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 29 January 2006

Gardline Shipping Ltd., Lowestoft - blue flag, a white canton. charged with stylized blue "GDL".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 29 January 2006

J. & A. Gardner & Co. Ltd.

[J. & A. Gardner & Co. Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of J. & A. Gardner & Co. Ltd., Glasgow. A dark blue rectangular flag with a red 'G' in the centre. The flag is made of cotton fabric and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached."
Jarig Bakker, 18 August 2004

Gate Steamship Co., Ltd.

(Thomas Middleton & Son)

[Gate Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Gate Steamship Co., Ltd. (Thomas Middleton & Son) (#1536, p. 110), a Hull-based shipping company, as triangular, red with the white letters "TM&S".
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

GBLT Shipmanagement (UK) Ltd.

[GBLT Shipmanagement (UK) Ltd. houseflag] image located by Jan Mertens, 21 January 2011

GBLT Shipmanagement (UK) Ltd is a British, Glasgow based subsidiary of tanker shipping company BLT, Indonesia. Website: GBLT acts as a local BLT representative:
“Today our main function is as a commercial office trading and operating group vessels in co-ordination with BLT and Chembulk. GBLT (UK) become involved with pre- and post-fixture activities when the BLT and Chembulk [US firm now owned by BLT, jm] vessels are located West of the Suez Canal.”

We learn that more and more of the eighty-strong BLT fleet shows up in that area where GBLT is in charge of all commercial and technical aspects, training, and quality standards. For the fleet, see: As may be seen throughout the website and especially on these pages:, and, the house flag is displayed prominently but as a drawing only. Clearly it is based on BLT’s flag – red field with blue diamond touching the flag’s edges bearing white initials “GBLT” without serifs.

I suppose the “G” makes the link with “BLT” to indicate Great Britain.
Jan Mertens, 21 January 2011

Geest Line

[Geest Line houseflag] image by Jorge Candeias, 21 Mar 1999

White with two light blue horizontal stripes near the upper and lower edges. A yellow lozenge centered with a thick red border and a fancy red "G" inside. Crampton ’90 [cra90] shows this flag and calls the company “Geest Industries, Ltd.”
Jorge Candeias, 24 Feb 1999

House flag of this Southampton (UK) based maritime company at
Dov Gutterman, 28 Jan 1999

Geest Line. The company originates from the van Geest family in the Netherlands, beginning in Britain in 1935 and forming their shipping company in 1964. The flag was also used by the Netherlands company of Waling van Geest en Zonen.
Neale Rosanoski, 14 July 2005

Geest North Sea Line

[Geest North Sea Line houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 11 November 2005

Geest North Sea Line, Spalding; blue flag, "Geest" under a small disk between two drop-like things, all white.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 11 November 2005

General Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.

[General Steam Navigation Company houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

A white flag with the letters (clockwise from honour point) G S C N in the four corners in red. between the N and C is the date "1824". In the centre is a ring containing a globe (constructed from latitude and longitude lines, no lands shown).
James Dignan, 18 October 2003

Founded 1824 in East London. In 1834 they were awarded contract to provide mail service to various European ports. In 1920 it was bought by P&O and eventually merged (1960) into P&O and no longer operates independently.
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

[General Steam Navigation Company houseflag] image by Neale Rosanoski

General Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. As befits a small image sources tend to differ or not clearly show the more intricate detail. This includes the colour of the globe, its outline and longitude/latitude lines, whether there was a riband around the globe, whether the date was in red or black, and whether there were continents shown on the globe. In the latter case for example Griffin 1895 and Reed 1912 both show continent outlines but everyone else gives no such design until at the end Stewart (1963) and Brown 1978 both show a globe with continents. The company was formed with the original intention of trading worldwide hence the adoption of the globe. Talbot-Booth in a 1944 book claims that the original flag was red with a yellow ring enclosing a yellow circle with the latter having blue lines of longitude and with a red upright cross placed across the centre. This flag was reputed to be worn by the "Trident" when Queen Victoria traveled in it in either 1842 or 1847, the flag being discovered in 1944 in good condition. This is the only mention I have found of this flag so I am somewhat doubtful of it. Otherwise the original flag is noted as the one described but without the date which was not added until 1880 though this is shown by sources between 1885 and 1909 and without a riband which is confusing. The Fleet Commodore had a pennant of the flag with the design placed in the hoist with the length of white in the fly providing the ready differential from the house flag. The company itself, according to Lloyds, continued in name until the early 1970s, becoming General Steam Navigation (Trading) Ltd. and still being noted as using the flag by a 1975 publication before finally becoming completely absorbed by P&O.
Neale Rosanoski, 4 June 2004

The house flag of the General Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., London. A rectangular white flag with a red globe in the centre surrounded by a red ribbon. The letters 'GSNC' in red are in the corners. The date '1824' is placed below the globe. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached.

In 1821 a small group of London businessmen and steam packet operators formed a syndicate for the purpose of developing steam-ship communication. The success of this venture prompted the membership to turn the existing arrangement into a joint stock undertaking and in 1824 the General Steam Navigation Company was incorporated by private Act of Parliament. One of the earliest steamship concerns on the Thames and almost certainly the first to operate a steamer service to foreign ports, the new company began to increase its tonnage and by the time of the first half-yearly meeting of the shareholders owned fifteen steamers; by 1834 it had won the contract for carrying the mails from London to Boulogne, Ostend, Rotterdam and Hamburg. Earlier, in the mid-1820s, the company had gained permission for its ships to engage in the movement of goods as well as passengers, whereupon it moved into the carriage of live cattle from the Continent, a trade upon which the prosperity of the company was to be founded for much of the nineteenth century.
In 1836 the company acquired the London and Edinburgh Steam Packet Company, a purchase which included six steamers and property in both London and Edinburgh. Soon afterwards the Margate Steam Packet Company was also taken over and by 1840 the General Steam Navigation Company operated forty steamers serving all the principal East Coast and near Continental ports. After its early success the company encountered a number of setbacks. The railways began to affect the passenger business while the cattle trade was adversely affected, by an outbreak of plague on the Continent and also by the Order-in-Council of 1884 prohibiting the carriage of live cattle, which by the early 1890s had virtually put an end to this trade. In 1902, under the chairmanship of Richard White (d.1926), the structure of the company was reorganized and its capital reduced. During this period the company consolidated its long association with the London river, where in the 1880s it had successfully revived the excursion trade between the capital, Southend and the North Kent resorts. At the same time it took over the firm of John Crisp and Sons, whose activities included not only a service between London and East Anglia, but the river trade as well, a transaction which incidentally made G.S.N. the operator of a fleet of Norfolk wherries.

At the end of the First World War, the company was able to expand its interests in several fields but larger companies, keen to acquire a fleet of smaller ships to provide feeder services and a network of agency services for their own vessels, began to look at the potential of G.S.N. in this respect and in 1920 it was taken over by the P&0 Company. In turn, G.S.N. acquired several other small companies. Although wholly owned by the larger company, the G.S.N. Company led a largely autonomous existence until 1971. In this year the P&0 Group, as it had now become, reorganized its subsidiaries and the old G.S.N. Company became a part of P&0 European and Air Transport Division.
National Maritime Museum

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the same house flag (#48, p. 39).
Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

British Shipping lines: continued