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British shipping companies (K)

Last modified: 2021-05-29 by rob raeside
Keywords: shipping lines |
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Kaye, Son & Co.

[Kaye, Son & Co. houseflag] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 19 October 2003

Description: Blue; white K inside white diamond. In "All about Ships and Shipping" the 'diamond' is square.
Jarig Bakker
, 19 October 2003

Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

John Kelly

[John Kelly houseflag] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 12 October 2003

Based in Belfast. Originally started in 1861 to transport coal. Merged in 1993 with Lanes Group Ltd. Currently known as Kelly Fuels.
Phil Nelson, 12 October 2003

Post card collection confirms this design but shows a centered and slightly larger "K".
António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 February 2007

Fred Kelsall

[Fred Kelsall houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

Fred Kelsall (1870-1948) married Sarah Johnson in 1897 at the age of 27. Despite the order to the vessels in the Kelsall Brothers and Beeching fleet to return to Hull from Fleetwood in that year causing a slump in Fleetwood's fortunes for a short while, Fred remained based at Fleetwood and helped develop the Port's trade and also took a leading part in setting up the Fylde Ice and Cold Storage Company. [...]

RootsWeb Project

The company was voluntarily wound up on 11 January 1922 (The London Gazette, 13 January 1922).

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Fred Kelsall (#1628, p. 114), a Fleetwood-based fishing company, as vertically divided red-white-blue, in the middle, a Union Jack of the same width as the white stripe.
Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

Kelsall Brothers & Beeching, Ltd.

[Kelsall Brothers & Beeching, Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

In 1893 the Hull fish merchant George Beeching became involved with the Kelsall brothers and eventually established a fleet of up to 32 steam vessels at the port but in 1897 closed down their operations at Fleetwood and moved to Shadwell.

By 1935, fish stocks in the North Sea were in decline and the older trawling companies engaged in this fishery were experiencing financial difficulties. This was particularly true of the pioneers, Kelsall Brothers & Beeching Ltd and their associated company, Hull Steam Fishing & Ice Co Ltd, and the former was forced to sell off some of its vessels. Six were sold to Brixham Trawlers Ltd, Brixham, managed by Dugdall & Son and the first of these vessels to arrive in Brixham in February 1936 was the Owl (H801, but on 6 March 1936 the two Hull companies were placed in voluntary liquidation and as a result two further vessels were purchased bringing the Brixham Trawler fleet to eight; the Auk (H755), Ibis (H764), Kite (H773), Pintail (H982), Ruff (H34), Thrush (H703) and Vireo (H446).
The trawlers were a success at Brixham but the harbour authorities failed to keep their promise to dredge and improve the quay, where only one trawler could land at a time, and also to provide a slipway for maintenance. Once again it was the high cost of bunker coal and of transporting their catches to the market that convinced the company that they had to move and in December 1937 it was announced that they would move to Fleetwood with the eight trawlers. By early 1938, Brixham Trawlers was established in the port, and with the demise of Kelsall Brothers & Beeching they retained the familiar ‘Gamecock’ funnel marking and Hull registration for all the steam trawlers, remaining an independent company until 1960 when they were taken over by the Boston Group.

Port of Fleetwood Maritime Heritage Trust

The Beeching family had connections with ships and shipbuilding dating back to at least 1795 when the firm Beeching Brothers was founded. I do not know how Thomas Kelsall came to meet the Beechings whether through the fishing trade or shipbuilding or however but after his marriage in 1868 the links grew as Thomas and Sarah had 3 children in Yarmouth in the early 1870s, Martha, Thomas (Fred) and Edith. The family appears to have moved to the Prestwich area of Manchester by 1879 as Gertrude's birth was registered there in 1879. At the time of the 1881 Census the family was living at Springfield Bury New Road Prestwich not far, apparently, from Wash Lane where John and Mary Kelsall were living with their 9 children and 3 servants.

RootsWeb project

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Kelsall Brothers & Beeching, Ltd. (#1666, p. 117), a Hull-based fishing company, as white with a red gamecock.
Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

W.S. Kennaugh & Co.

[King Line houseflag] image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 30 September 2010

The British shipping company W.S. Kennaugh & Co. flew a simple house flag, blue with a yellow saltire, as seen in the image above from the on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels as no. 1191 ‘W.S. Kennaugh & Co., Liverpool’.
The name Kennaugh appears at Whitehaven, a port in the N.W. of England opposite the Isle of Man, at the end of the 19th century: managers of local ships, chandlers, sail and rope makers. The firm was founded in 1905 and later moved to Liverpool.

A quote from a short article (drawing of house flag) at
“They started with steam coasters and built up a good reputation. The company’s ships were named with a suffix of Force. (The word force means waterfall in the North of England). The company was renowned for the care with which it maintained its vessels and one of their vessels is reported as having survived for 82 years. At one time Kennaugh had twenty steam ships, four deep-water sailing ships and three managed ships. (…) In 1954 (three) Kennaugh ships were still operational (…) The company ceased to exist in 1959.”
Jan Mertens, 17 November 2008

Their ships were all named after waterfalls in the North of England whose name ended in "Force", which is the word for "waterfall" in the North, from Old Norse "fors".
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 30 September 2010

King Line

[King Line houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

The King Line existed for quite a long time as recounted by Alan Mallett, author of “Idyll of the Kings – History of the King Line 1889-1979”:


“The King Line is well-known as the tramp and bulk-carrier arm of the British and Commonwealth Group, but how many people know that it has a long and interesting history which is closely bound up with the rise and fall of that giant of shipping Lord Kylsant. 'Idyll of the Kings' includes much fascinating historical material on both the King Line and its founder -- the design and day to day management of its ships, the adoption of the diesel engine in the 1920s and the economies this brought, the changes following the resignation and later trial of Kylsant, and the Line's incorporation in the British and Commonwealth Group.”

For 1920s read 1925 (moving away from steam); a further fact is the takeover by Union-Castle in 1949. I do not know exactly how the firm came to its end, if that is the right expression. In any case Owen Phillips, founder of the company, became a shipping and shipbuilding tycoon and was made Lord Kylsant. Under this name he became notorious as he had used fraudulent means to financially bolster his shipping empire.

A quote from the Red Duster site (
“by 1929 he was experiencing financial problems. (…) Eventually the group was unable to repay Government loans made available for the construction of ships under the Trade Facilities Act.
   In 1930 a Government enquiry recommended that the Kylsant Group should negotiate with its bankers and raise funds to repay the loans but when, by July of the same year, nothing was forthcoming Lord Kylsant was divested of his powers and the group put into the hands of three Trustees. By 1931 the Kylsant empire was bankrupt and the affairs of the group, which included Union Castle Line, White Star Line, Elder, Dempster and both Glen and Shire Lines had to be unravelled, a complicated but not impossible problem. Lord Kylsant was found guilty of making fraudulent statements to attract working capital.”

See also for remarks on Lord Kylsant, relevant for the family arms formed the basis for the house flag. To begin with, see the augmented Phillips arms on the first bookplate. Compare with no. 1410 of the on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels, third of first row at, i.e. ‘King Line, Ltd. (Phillips, Phillips & Co., Ltd.), London’ and the clickable image (ca. 1951) shown by the National Maritime Museum,
Greenwich: “The house flag of King Line Ltd, London. A white swallow-tailed burgee bearing a crest of a grey rampant lion, gorged with a ducal coronet and a chain attached.”

As in Lloyds 1912, the lion seems to have an intermediate colour (or is described as such) whereas the picture on A. Mallett’s monograph is more satisfactory: black (sable) lion, armed and langued gules. (This would have to be checked against a blazon of the arms.) The torse or wreath has only one colour however and there is also the regrettable Goldeneye…
Jan Mertens, 4 January 2006

Kingston Steam Trawling Co., Ltd.

[Kingston Steam Trawling Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Kingston Steam Trawling Co., Ltd, a Hull-based fishing company, named its trawlers for minerals, including "Turquoise", "Sapphire", "Siberite", "Diamond", "Amber", "Mercury", "Chrysolithe", "Cornelian", "Alexandrite", "Ruby", "Aximite", "Ceylonite", "Peridot", "Onyx", "Alalite", "Andalusite", "Garnet", "Emerald", "Aquamarine", "Cyanite", "Hessonite", "Galena", "Topaz", "Almandine", "Euclase" and "Beryl".

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Kingston Steam Trawling Co., Ltd. (#1818, p. 123) as red with three white crowns placed vertically in the center, charged in the respective corners with the white letters "K", "S", "T" and "C".

The three crowns come from the arms of Hull.
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

William Kinnear & Co.

[William Kinnear & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of William Kinnear & Co. (#1602, p. 113), a Dundee-based shipping company, as swallow-tailed, blue, in the center, a white disc charged with a red "K".
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Kirkcaldy, Fife & London Steamship Line

Stocks, Turnbull & Co., Ltd.

[Kirkcaldy, Fife & London Steamship Line houseflag] image located by Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Kirkcaldy, Fife & London Steamship Line (Stocks, Turnbull & Co., Ltd.) (#66, p. 40) as white with a red cross cantonned by the blue letters "K", "F", "S" and "L", and superimposed in the center with a blue shield inscribing a white "L".
Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

J. & E. Kish

[J. & E. Kish houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 29 April 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of J. & E. Kish (#1158, p. 92), a Sunderland-based company, as white with a red "K". 
Ivan Sache, 29 April 2021

J.P. Knight Ltd.

[J.P. Knight Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 20 September 2005

J.P. Knight Ltd., Rochester - blue flag, white "K".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 20 September 2005

J.L. Knott

[J.L. Knott houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

James Knott was born on the 31st January 1855 at Howdon on Tyne. [...] James was educated at the Scotch School in North Shields, which he left at the age of 14 to start work as a shipping clerk on Newcastle Quayside.
At the age of 19, James started as a shipbroker. In 1878 he married Margaret Annie Garbutt and acquired his first ship, a collier brig named ‘Pearl’ for £186. In 1881 he purchased his first steam ship the ‘Saxon Prince’. By 1883 he added a further 8 steam ships and by 1886 owned a total of 17 and had purchased his first tanker.
James Knott set up the Prince Line Ltd in 1895. It became the third largest shipping line in the world with 45 ships, many of them built in Tyne and Wear shipyards, primarily by Short Bros. [...] James Knott had many other interests; he owned coal mines, became a ship’s master, studied law, was called to the Bar in 1889 and in 1910 served for a short time as MP for Sunderland.
In 1916 James Knott sold the Prince Line to Furness Withy & Co following the tragic loss of two sons, Major James Leadbitter Knott DSO and Captain Henry Basil Knott, both killed in action in the Great War. [...]
Sir James Knott died in 1934.

Sir James Knott Trust

The Prince Line page has to be corrected.
"Sir James Knott, the owner, had his three sons killed during World War I".
As said above, James and Basil Knott were killed during the First World War, but they were survived by their eldest brother. Thomas Garbutt Knott inherited his father's title and died in 1949.

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of J.L. Knott (#1524, p. 109), a Newcastle-based shipping company, as white, in the center a crown.
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Knotts Prince Line (Gläfcke and Hennings)

[Knotts Prince Line houseflag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 18 June 2012

In the middle of the red flag was the emblem of the Prince of Wales in white with light blue lining.
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

Knutsford Steamship Co., Ltd.

R.B. Stoker

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

Stoker opened an office in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for the start of the Furness Line's operations to North America and within two years the line was operating ten ships on the North Atlantic. Stoker was asked to open an FW office in London in 1890, by which time he owned a 3,500-ton tramp steamer named the Sydenham and later the steamer Knutsford. Furness, Withy and Company was formed in 1891, with Christopher Furness as chairman and Stoker as ship director. Stoker went to New York in 1896 on behalf of FW to buy the Philadelphia Trans-Atlantic Line, returning after six months.
On the formation of Manchester Liners Limited (ML) in 1898, FW took a major shareholding in the new company and Stoker resigned from FW's board to become ML's first managing director. [...] On the death in 1912 of Lord Furness, as he had become, Stoker was elected as chairman of ML, remaining in office until his death. [...]


Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Knutsford Steamship Co., Ltd. (R.B. Stoker) (#1546, p. 110), a Manchester-based shipping company, as red, in the center a white square diamond charged with a red "S".
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Kyle Shipping Co. Ltd.

[Kyle Shipping Co. Ltd. houseflag] image by Phil Nelson, 11 April 2000

from Stewart and Styring's Flags, Funnels and Hull Colors 1963

Kyle Transport Co. Ltd.

(W.N. Bicket & Co., Ltd.)

[Kyle Transport Co. Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 22 March 2008

Lloyds Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of "Kyle Transport Co. Ltd. (W.N. Bicket & Co.)" (#65, p. 40), a company based in Liverpool, as red with a blue square diamond charged with the white letter "K".
Ivan Sache, 22 March 2008 

British Shipping lines: continued