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British shipping companies (I)

Last modified: 2021-05-29 by rob raeside
Keywords: i&i | issc | triskelion |
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Imperial Direct Line Ltd

Imperial Direct Line Ltd house flag image located by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 24 April 2019

White, a red saltire, charged with a crown.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 24 April 2019

Imperial S.S. Co., Ltd.

Also Lincluden S.S. Co., Ltd.
(Sivewright, Bacon & Co.)

[Imperial S.S. Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 27 April 2021

Sivewright, Bacon & Co. was formed in West Hartlepool in 1883 as both Shipowners and Ship Brokers, and were based at No.76, Church Street, West Hartlepool. When the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1896 they saw the business opportunities and transferred their company to Manchester in 1897.

On the opening of the Ship Canal in 1894 the firm, appreciating the possibilities of the new port, transferred its business from West Hartlepool to Manchester, where it developed the Manchester - Montreal trade, now so firmly established by its successor, Manchester Liners. During the war Sivewright, Bacon sold its fleet with the exception of one ship, which had been captured by the Germans.

William John Sivewright (1863-1919) started his working life as a merchant's clerk.
William Charles Frederick Bacon (1854-1931) went to sea aged 15 and by the age of 22, having obtained his master's certificate at Colchester in 1876, became master of the sailing vessel "Esperanza" belonging to William Gray. Retiring from the sea at the age of 29 he joined the firm of Sivewrights, shipbrokers, agents and shipowners of West Hartlepool.
Hartlepool History Then and Now

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Imperial S.S. Co., Ltd., also Lincluden S.S. Co., Ltd. (Sivewright, Bacon & Co.) (Sivewright, Bacon & Co.) (#806, p. 75), as horizontally divided red-white-red, charged in the center with the blue letters "S.B.&C°.".
Ivan Sache, 27 April 2021

Imperial Steam Fishing Co., Ltd.

[Imperial S.S. Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

The Imperial Steam Fishing Co., Ltd. wound up voluntarily on 4 November 1919, as did the same day the Hellyers' Steam Fishing Co., the two companies being managed by Owen S. Hellyer (The London Gazette, 7 November 1919).

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Imperial Steam Fishing Co., Ltd. (#1472, p. 107), a Hull-based fishing company, as yellow, in the middle a thick blue cross patty, over the cross a white oval bordered in red and charged with a red crown.
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Inch Line

Inch Line house flag image by António Martins, 09 Oct 2006

Postcard [o9oXXb] (7th pc., 1st row, 2nd flag) shows for Inch Line a ~2:3 forked flag with two "tongues" taking up the upper and bottom thirds of the fly edge separated by a middle section with edge parallel to the hoist, in a chess pattern of horizontally stretched lozenges, of which are fully visible two blue lozenges (making up the "tongues"), one half blue one (the middle of the fly), two white complete ones, two white half lozenges (top and bottom), and two red half ones. On the upper white lozenge it is written in black capitals "HF&Cº" and in the lower one "INCH".
António Martins, 09 Oct 2006

Tapering version

Inch Line house flag, taper image by António Martins, 09 Oct 2006

I cannot decide which of these two geometrically simple designs is the most accurate - perhaps none of these but a less simple design, with the inner edges of the "tongues" non parallel to the lozenges' sides.
António Martins, 09 Oct 2006

Inch Line. UK. Hamilton, Fraser & Co. of Liverpool [the HF&Co.) operated ships under the Inch Shipping Co. Ltd. with Lloyds 1904 specifying Inch Shipping Co. and Inchmaree S.S. Co. under this flag. They also operated as Rover Shipping Co. Ltd. placing "ROVER" in place of "INCH". The last Hamilton, Fraser ship was sold in 1909. None of the sources I have come across show the tapered version but they do vary with the length of the tails and the depth of the central section as measured by the squared fly portion - some have it about 1/3 but Lloyds 1904 show it as about half the depth.
Neale Rosanoski, 19 September 2009

Indo-China Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.

[Indo-China Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 6 March 2004

Indo-China Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. Based Hong Kong. Flag is a group one of owners Jardine, Matheson & Co. and in 1985 the company changed name to Jardine Ship Management Ltd.
Neale Rosanoski, 31 May 2004

The same house flag is shown (#1618, p. 114) in Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912).
Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

Inman Line

[Inman Line houseflag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin

The flag is red with a small white canton, probably square, containing a black diamond not touching the canton's edges.
Jan Mertens, 5 May 2005

This firm, officially the 'Liverpool and Philadelphia Steamship Company', was founded in 1850 by William Inman and two Richardson brothers (for whom he had started working a few years earlier); from 1854 on, Inman was the sole proprietor. Convinced that passenger satisfaction was a major factor in a highly competitive market, Inman was not above travelling steerage to study conditions during voyages. On the technical side, the firm was very progressive and favoured twin screw-  driven ships, so much so that Cunard, a fierce competitor, abandoned paddle steamers.

During the years 1854-56, all ships were active in the Crimean War effort; one year later, a change in name to 'Liverpool, New York and Philadelphia Steamship Company' reflected expansion. From 1875 on, the firm – then called 'Inman Steamship Co. Ltd' – cooperated with the White Star Line. Financial difficulties led to voluntary liquidation late 1886 and at that occasion the International Navigation Co. (US), owners of the American Line (US) and the Red Star Line (BE), bought their assets. A company called 'Inman & International Steamship Co.' operated the ships under the British flag but this changed in 1892 when the US Mail contract necessitated flying the US flag. The I&I episode had its moments of glory when the ‘City of Paris’ and ‘City of New York’ each briefly captured the Blue Ribband. By 1893, all ships sailed for the American Line.

Sources: (‘City of New York’, one of the finest ships ever) (biography of William Inman)
Inman house flag on this picture:
Picture showing the I & I flag, here:

[Inman & International Steamship Co. houseflag] image by Rob Raeside

The flag is a white swallowtail bearing the firm’s initials in red.
Jan Mertens, 13 May 2005

International Line Steamship Co., Ltd.

(Christopher Marwood)

[Gleneden Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

The company of Ward and Holzaphel was established in about 1880 owning their ships on the 64 shares basis and in 1883 was incorporated as a limited company under the name of the International Steamship Company Ltd.
In 1884, in financial difficulties, a shareholders' committee agreed to transfer management of the company to Christopher Marwood of Whitby, who remained manager until his death in 1914. The loss of three of the firm's major vessels in 1917 hit the company badly and the remaining ships were sold to B J Sutherland and Company of Newcastle, the company being dissolved.
The National Archives

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of International Line Steamship Co., Ltd. (Christopher Marwood) (#163, p. 44) as horizontally divided blue-white-red with a Union Jack in canton.
Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

International Shipbrokers Ltd.

[International Shipbrokers Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 15 February 2006

International Shipbrokers Ltd., London - red flag, white diamond, blue "IS".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 15 February 2006

The Iquitos Steamship Co.

(Booth Line)

[The Iquitos Steamship Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 93 April 2008

Lloyds Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of "The Iquitos Steamship Co., Ltd. (Booth Line)" (#215, p. 47), a company based in Liverpool, as white with a red cross in the middle.

The history of the company, as reported on the "TheShipsList" website, explains the origin of the house flag:
"Founded in the 1866 as Alfred Booth & Co to operate services to Northern Brazil and the Amazon. In 1881 the Booth Steamship Co. was formed. In 1901 the Booth and Singlehurst's Red Cross Line were amalgamated into a single company and named Booth Steamship Co. (1901) Ltd. At the same time, to tidy up the tug and barge operations on the River Amazon, Booth & Co. was formed and these small units transferred to this company. In 1911 the Iquitos SS Co. and its fleet was absorbed by Booth Steamship Co. In 1946 the Booth Line was sold to the Vestey Group of companies and in 1975 all the group's ships were pooled under Blue Star Ship Management Ltd and the Booth Line ceased to exist as a seperate entity."

The Booth Line operated routes between Europe (Liverpool, Porto, Lisbon, Hamburg, Antwerp, Le Havre, London), South America (Brazil -
Manaos, Para) and North America (Galveston, New York).
Ivan Sache
, 9 April 2008 

Richard Irvin & Sons, Ltd.

[Richard Irvin & Sons, Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 27 April 2021

Richard Irvin was born in North Shields in 1853, entering the fishing trade in 1864 at age 11. He witnessed first hand the beginning of the steam trawl fishery in the area, being undertaken by converted paddle steam tugs.
Seeing the potential of the trawl industry he followed the example set by tug master, William Purdy, and began using converted paddle steam tugs for trawling. By the time he was married, the foundation for the Richard Irvin fishing dynasty had already been laid.

His first son, John Hannel Irvin was born in 1874, starting work in the firm aged 13, and upon reaching the age of 21 was transferred to the Aberdeen branch which had been opened in 1887, and made a partner in the firm. This firm was then known as Richard Irvin & Sons Ltd, with the subsequent taking into the partnership of his other sons, Richard Irvin Junior, George Driver Irvin & Thomas W. Irvin. They established the firm Shields Engineering Co. for the construction & repair of trawlers & purchased the firm Young's Dock Co., which they merged to form the Shields Engineering & Dry Dock Co. The firm then became involved in the herring drifting fishery around the same time as steam powered drifters began to be used in NE England and Scotland. The East Coast Herring Drifter Co. was set up in 1900 followed soon after by the Shields Ice & Cold Storage Co. Ltd.

By 1902, when George Driver Irvin was sent to South Africa to investigate the potential of a fishery there, the company had major interests in many aspects of the fishing industry, as well as the trawling industry which they had helped pioneer. They had businesses in Aberdeen & Peterhead as well as in North Shields and had a small fleet of steam drifters with the SN reg. no. (North Shields).

The African Fishing & Trading Co. was established in 1903, with offices in Cape Town & North Shields. Initially three trawlers were built & sent to South Africa, including the Star of Peace & Star of the South which arrived at Cape Town early in 1904. Despite some promise, the African Fishing & Trading Co. was not profitable and after almost being closed down by head office in North Shields, continued operating after a merger with another South African fishing company owned by Carl Ossian Johnson in 1909. This merger subsequently lead to the establishment of the firm, Irvin & Johnson in Dec 1910. This firm is still operating in South Africa today (2007).

Meanwhile Richard Irvin & Sons (probably after prompting by Carl Johnson) had seen the potential of the whaling & sealing industries & an application had been made for a whaling lease at South Georgia. This led to the formation of the Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. in partnership with Irvin & Johnson. Even after the SWSC was sold to Lever Bros. in 1919, Irvin & Johnson SA still had whaling interests in South Africa & started a sealing venture at the Kerguelen Islands.

The diversified group of companies still continued operating successfully in Britain, with major interests in Aberdeen as well as North Shields, a growing interest in Peterhead as well as many agencies in such places as the main fishing port of Buckie as well as smaller villages such as nearby Findochty. Richard Irvin & Sons began building wooden fishing boats at Peterhead, north of Aberdeen, Scotland during WW1. Three wooden steam drifters built in 1915, 1916 & 1918 were the "Jocelyn" SN 180 (later PD 154), "Lorraine" SN 287 & "Maureen" SN 23 (later SN 360 & later "Golden Emblem" BF 232). Many timber vessels were built in this yard until the 1970's, when most Scottish shipbuilders ceased building out of wood. Richard Irvin still has a shipbuilding yard in Peterhead (2007).
Sons of Jura

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Richard Irvin & Sons, Ltd. (#801, p. 75) as horizontally divided red-white-red.
Ivan Sache, 27 April 2021

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

[Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. houseflag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 10 April 2009

Triskelion is yellow, as are the letters, or: Red, with IOM, Three Legs, SPC (no o) in Yellow.
Jarig Bakker, 18 October 2003

An extensive history is at
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. Sources do not agree on what the flag is but whether this means that there have been any changes is unknown. An 1885 source shows white letters but otherwise everyone seems to agree that they and the emblem of Man are yellow. Whether the "o" appears after the "C" seems to be equally split but the most important point is which way the Man emblem is placed. Again sources vary as to whether the kneeling knee faces fly or hoist. The Brown series were firmly in the latter camp until 1978 but since then they have it being to fly. From the only photo of a flag that I have come across, although details are not clear, I suspect that it is [now at least] in line with the Island flag with that knee being towards hoist [see gb~i112b.gif attached] but the format is only a guess. The company's logo shows spurs but whether such small detail is included on the flag is uncertain although the Stewart series indicate that it does. The fleet commodore flies a swallow-tailed version.
Neale Rosanoski, 31 May 2004

A few Flickr photos permits me to add more about the IOMSPC. The following item shows the house flag, very detailed (see Neale’s remarks on
position of legs, spurs, etc.): Pic made by “benmychree2002”, uploaded on 12 Mar 2009.

Fleet commodore’s flag

[Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. houseflag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 10 April 2009

Neale mentions the fleet commodore’s flag, a swallowtail. Here it is, same source:

A useful bibliographic reference: Michel Lupant, ‘Flags, coats of arms and badges of the Isle of Man’ – First edition, November 1996, A4 format.>31-34 on pp. 18-19, all b/w, concern the IOMSPC.
Jan Mertens, 9 April 2009

The triskelion on the commodore's swallowtail is 10% smaller.
Eugene Ipavec, 10 April 2009

Modern flag

[Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. houseflag] image located by Jan Mertens, 9 April 2009

White field, red rim bearing yellow name “ISLE OF MAN” (top) and “”STEAM PACKET COMPANY” (bottom) separated by yellow dots; enclosing the triskelion in yellow; the rim surrounded by a yellow rope, with a FIAV-like knot below and trailing off horizontally, twice on each side, away from the emblem or seal.

The circular emblem is shown by Lupant (1996), ill. 33. The legs and rope, including the horizontal ends trailing off, are shown in ill. 34 with large letters “ISLE OF MAN” above and “(dot) STEAM PACKET COMPANY (dot)” in smaller letters below. Comments: “The seal of the Company (fig 33) uses the trinicaria in yellow on a white disc, inside a red circle edged yellow with yellow letters. It is used on papers, publicity, timetables, napkins, country code for cars, on stickers… (fig 34).” Both illustrations, in b/w, appear on p. 19 of above book.
Jan Mertens, 10 April 2009


[Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. houseflag] image located by Jan Mertens, 12 April 2009

Flickr's IOMSPC photos has a photo made by “benmychree2002” uploaded 12 Mar 2009. White pennant, bordered red (except near the staff), bearing ship’s name in red letters without serifs “TYNWALD”. I suppose this was the pennant flown either on ‘Tynwald 5’ operated 1947-1974 or - more probably - on ‘Tynwald 6’ operated 1986-1990, see these pages:
The name of course refers to the Isle of Man’s ancient – and current – parliament.
Jan Mertens
, 12 April 2009

[Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. houseflag] image located by Jan Mertens, 19 April 2009

Displayed on Flickr, a photo made by “benmychree2002” (uploaded 11 Mar 2009) who adds, helpfully: “Lady of Mann name pennant complete with seagull crap and smell of oil and diesel. Measures 15' x 5'”. White pennant, bordered red (except near the staff), bearing ship’s name in red letters without serifs “LADY OF MANN”.

A Simplon Postcards page partly dedicated to this ship, active since 1976 (last one mentioned): "The first ‘Lady of Mann’ flew a similar pennant, see colour photo near the end of this page:"

Here – see especially the colour photos – we find a number of other IOMSPC name pennants:, e.g. ‘Ben-my-Chree 5’, ‘Manxman 2’, ‘Monas Isle 5’, and ‘King Orry 4’.
Jan Mertens, 19 April 2008

Far from home, an IOMSPC name pennant (onomast) is kept in the State Library of Tasmania (AU): Caption of this item: “Isle of Man ferry company pennant flag. It is a red and white flag with 'Mona's Isle' sewn on in red letters.” The red edges ought to meet at the point of this pennant which is out of sight. No serifs. As the item looks rather new, I suppose it flew on ‘Mona’s Isle (6)’ operated 1984-85:, or possibly ‘Mona’s Isle (5)’ operated 1951-80 - a similar pennant is seen on some photos:
Jan Mertens, 17 May 2009

Isles of Scilly Steamship Co., Ltd.

[Isles of Scilly Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 10 December 2005

Isles of Scilly Steamship Co., Ltd., St. Mary's - blue flag, white cross; in all quarters red "ISSCo".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 10 December 2005

[Isles of Scilly Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by André Coutanche, 22 September 2000

The house flag of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company which appeared as a logo on their website and which I have drawn with a guess at a reasonable ratio. This image differs from the one in Loughran (1995) in ratio, but also in having just "C" in the lower fly rather than "Co".
André Coutanche, 22 September 2000

Italo Britannica

[Italo Britannica houseflag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 May 2012

It is a blue flag with the Italian flag in the upper fly corner. In the upper hoist corner is a white, cotized 5-point star pointing to the bottom. In the lower half is a centred white inscription in capitals: “ITALO”(1st line) “BRITANNICA”(2nd line) Source: [el1897 - Elbe Flag Chart 1897 – part 9; “Gratis Beilage zu Deicken und Behrmann’s Neuen Monatsheften Neue Ausgabe Sommer 1897"]
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 May 2012

British Shipping lines: continued