Royal Mail Steam Packet Company

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Royal Mail Lines)
Jump to: navigation, search
For the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, see Cunard Line.
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
Industry Shipping
Fate Liquidated
Successor Royal Mail Lines Ltd
Founded 1839
Founder James Macqueen
Defunct 1932
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people
Lord Kylsant
Royal Mail Lines Ltd
Industry Shipping, cruise line
Fate Acquired
Predecessor Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
Successor Furness, Withy & Co.
Founded 1932
Defunct 1965
RMS Asturias in a 1930 poster by Kenneth Shoesmith, who created a number of images advertising Royal Mail Lines ships

The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was a British shipping company founded in London in 1839 by a Scot, James MacQueen. The line's motto was Per Mare Ubique (everywhere by sea). After good and bad times it became the largest shipping group in the world in 1927 when it took over the White Star Line.[1]

A poster stamp issued by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company to promote their service from Canada to the British West Indies.

The company was liquidated and its assets taken over by the newly formed Royal Mail Lines in 1932 after financial trouble and scandal; over the years RML declined to no more than the name of a service run by former rival Hamburg-Süd.

History as Royal Mail Steam Packet Company[edit]

Queen Victoria granted the initial Royal Charter of Incorporation of "The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company" on 26 September 1839.[2] In 1840 the Admiralty and the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company made a contract in which the latter agreed to provide a fleet of not fewer than 14 steam vessels for the purpose of carrying all Her Majesty's mails, to sail twice every month to Barbados in the West Indies from Southampton or Falmouth. 14 new steam vessels were built for the purpose, being Thames, Medway, Trent and Isis (built at Northfleet); Severn and Avon (built at Bristol); Tweed, Clyde, Teviot, Dee, and Solway (built at Greenock); Tay (built at Dumbarton); Forth (built at Leith); and Medina, (built at Cowes). In reference to their destination, these vessels were known as the West Indies Mail Steamers.[3]

The West Indian Mail Service was established by the sailing of the first Royal Mail Steam Packet, PS Thames from Falmouth on 1 January 1841. A Supplemental Royal Charter was granted on 30 August 1851 extending the sphere of the Company's operations. In 1864, the mail service to the British Honduras was established. A further Supplemental Royal Charter was granted extending the sphere of the Company's operations on 7 March 1882.[2]

In the decade before the First World War the RMSP modernised its fleet, introducing a series of larger liners ranging from 9,588 GRT to 15,551 GRT on its Southampton – Buenos Aires route. Each had a name beginning with the letter "A", so collectively they were called the "A-liners" or the "A-series". The first was RMS Aragon in 1905, followed by sister ships Amazon, Araguaya and Avon in 1906, Asturias in 1908, Arlanza in 1912, Andes and Alcantara in 1913 and Almanzora in 1915. Earlier members of the series, from Aragon to Asturias, had twin screws, each driven by a four-cylinder quadruple-expansion steam engine. The final four members of the series, from Arlanza to Almanzora, had triple screws, with the middle one driven by a low pressure Parsons steam turbine.[4]

After the First World War RMSP faced not only existing foreign competition but a new UK challenger. Lord Vestey's Blue Star Line had joined the South American route and won a large share of the frozen meat trade. Then in 1926–27 Blue Star introduced its new "luxury five" ships Almeda, Andalucia, Arandora, Avelona and Avila to both increase refrigerated cargo capacity and enter the passenger trade. At the same time RMSP introduced a pair of new 22,200 GRT liners, RMS Asturias in 1926 and RMS Alcantara in 1927, which at that stage were the largest motor ships in the World. Although these were the biggest and most luxurious UK ships on the route, RMSP Chairman Lord Kylsant called Blue Star's quintet "very keen competition".[5]

Reconstitution as Royal Mail Lines[edit]

The company ran into financial trouble, and the UK Government investigated its affairs in 1930, resulting in the Royal Mail Case. In 1931 Lord Kylsant was jailed for 12 months for misrepresenting the state of the company to shareholders.[1] So much of Britain's shipping industry was involved in RMSPC that arrangements were made to guarantee the continuation of ship operations after it was liquidated. Royal Mail Lines Ltd (RML) was created in 1932 and took over the ships of RMSPC and other companies of the former group.[6] The new company was chaired by Lord Essendon.[7]

The new company's operations were concentrated on the west coast of South America, the West Indies and Caribbean, and the Pacific coast of North America; the SouthamptonLisbonBrazilUruguayArgentina route was operated from 1850 to 1980. RML was also a leading cruise ship operator.

RMS's largest vessel was the 25,895 GRT turbine steamship RMS Andes. She was designed as an ocean liner but when launched in 1939 was immediately fitted out as a troopship. She finally entered civilian liner service in 1948, was converted to full-time cruising in 1960 and was scrapped in 1971.[8]

RMSP and RML lost a number of ships in their long history. One of the last was the 17,547 GRT turbine steamship RMS Magdalena, which was launched in 1948 and grounded and sank off Brazil on her maiden voyage in 1949.[9]

In 1965 RML was bought by Furness, Withy & Co.,[1] and rapidly lost its identity. In the 1970s parts of the Furness Withy Group, including RML, were sold on to Hong Kong shipowner C.Y. Tung, and later sold on to former River Plate rival Hamburg Süd; by the 1990s Royal Mail Lines was no more than the name of a Hamburg-Süd refrigerated cargo service from South America to Europe.

List of RMSP Company vessels[edit]

[10]

For conciseness smaller ships such as schooners and lighters are omitted.

Ship Date Commissioned Gross Tonnage Propulsion Material
Clyde 1841 1,841 paddle wood
Tweed 1841 1,800 paddle wood
Thames 1841 1,889 paddle wood
Forth 1841 1,900 paddle wood
Solway 1841 1,700 paddle wood
Tay 1841 1,858 paddle wood
Medina 1841 1,800 paddle wood
Medway 1841 1,895 paddle wood
Dee 1841 1,849 paddle wood
RMS Trent 1841 1,856 paddle wood
Teviot 1841 1,744 paddle wood
Isis 1841 1,900 paddle wood
City of Glasgow 1841 1,700 paddle wood
Avon 1841 2,069 paddle wood
Severn 1841 1,886 paddle wood
Great Western 1847 1,775 paddle wood
RMS Amazon 1851 2,256 paddle wood
Oronico 1851 2,901 paddle wood
Parana 1852 3,070 paddle wood
Magdalena 1852 2,943 paddle wood
Demerara 1851 2,318 paddle wood
La Plata 1852 2,826 paddle wood
RMS Atrato 1853 3,184 paddle iron
Solent 1853 1,804 paddle composite
Tamar 1854 1,850 paddle wood
Tyne 1854 1,603 paddle iron
Oneida 1858 2,285 paddle iron
RMS Paramatta 1859 3,439 paddle iron
Mersey 1859 1,039 paddle iron
Shannon 1859 3,609 paddle iron
Tasmanian 1858 2,956 screw iron
Seine 1860 3,440 paddle iron
Eider 1864 1,569 paddle iron
RMS Douro 1865 2,824 screw iron
Arno 1865 1,038 screw iron
RMS Rhone 1865 2,738 screw iron
Danube 1865 2,000 screw iron
Corsica 1867 1,134 screw iron
Neva 1868 3,025 screw iron
Nile 1869 3,039 screw iron
Elbe 1870 3,063 screw iron
Tiber 1871 1,591 screw iron
Ebro 1871 1,509 screw iron
Liffey 1871 1,504 screw iron
Moselle 1871 3,298 screw iron
Belize 1871 1,038 screw iron
Tagus 1871 3,299 screw iron
Boyne 1871 3,318 screw iron
Essequibo 1873 1,831 screw iron
Larne 1873 1,670 screw iron
Severn 1873 1,736 screw iron
Minho 1874 2,540 screw iron
Mondego 1874 2,564 screw iron
Dee 1875 1,864 screw iron
Guadiana 1875 2,504 screw iron
Para 1875 4,028 screw iron
Don 1875 4,028 screw iron
Medway 1877 3,687 screw iron
Solent 1878 1,915 screw iron
Tamar 1878 2,923 screw iron
Trent 1878 2,912 screw iron
Derwent 1879 2,466 screw iron
Humber 1880 2,371 screw iron
Avon 1880 2,162 screw iron
La Plata 1882 3,240 screw iron
Eden 1882 2,145 screw iron
Esk 1882 2,145 screw iron
Dart 1883 2,641 screw iron
Orinoco 1886 4,572 screw steel
RMS Atrato 1888 5,347 screw steel
RMS Magdalena 1889 5,373 screw steel
Thames 1889 5,261 screw steel
Clyde 1890 5,618 screw steel
Nile 1893 5,855 screw steel
Danube 1893 5,891 screw steel
La Plata 1896 3,445 screw steel
Minho 1896 3,445 screw steel
Ebro 1896 3,445 screw steel
Severn 1898 3,760 screw steel
Tagus 1899 5,545 screw steel
Trent 1899 5,525 screw steel
Tyne 1900 2,902 screw steel
Eider 1900 1,236 screw steel
La Plata 1901 4,464 screw steel
Dee 1902 1,871 screw steel
Tamar 1902 3,207 screw steel
Teviot 1902 3,271 screw steel
Parana 1904 4,515 screw steel
Caroni 1904 2,628 screw steel
Conway 1904 2,650 screw steel
Pardo 1904 4,464 screw steel
Catalina 1904 4,464 screw steel
Potaro 1904 4,464 screw steel
RMS Aragon 1905 9,588 screw steel
Oruba 1906 5,737 screw steel
Orotava 1906 5,851 screw steel
Oroya 1906 6,297 screw steel
Arcadian 1906 7,945 screw steel
Marima 1906 2,742 screw steel
Manau 1906 2,745 screw steel
RMS Amazon 1906 10,037 screw steel
Segura 1906 4,756 screw steel
Sabor 1906 4,758 screw steel
RMS Araguaya 1906 10,537 screw steel
RMS Avon 1906 11,073 screw steel
Monmouthshire 1907 5,091 screw steel
Denbighshire 1907 3,844 screw steel
Flintshire 1907 3,815 screw steel
RMS Asturias 1908 12,015 screw steel
Arzila 1908 2,722 screw steel
Agadir 1908 2,722 screw steel
Berbice 1909 2,379 screw steel
Balantia 1909 2,379 screw steel
Deseado 1911 11,475 screw steel
RMS Arlanza 1912 15,044 screw steel
Demerara 1911 11,484 screw steel
Desna 1912 11,484 screw steel
Alcala 1913 10,660 screw steel
RMS Andes 1913 15,620 screw steel
Radnorshire 1913 4,302 screw steel
Caribbean 1913 5,824 screw steel
Merionethshire 1913 4,308 screw steel
Cardiganshire 1913 9,426 screw steel
Cobequid 1913 4,738 screw steel
Caraquet 1913 4,917 screw steel
RMS Alcantara 1913 15,831 screw steel
Carnarvonshire 1913 9,406 screw steel
Drina 1913 11,483 screw steel
RMS Almanzora 1914 15,551 screw steel
Essequibo 1914 8,489 screw steel
RMS Ebro 1914 8,480 screw steel
Carmarthenshire 1915 7,823 screw steel
Pembrokeshire 1915 7,821 screw steel
Larne 1916 3,808 screw steel
Brecknockshire 1916 8,422 screw steel
Darro 1916 11,493 screw steel
Navasota 1917 8,795 screw steel
Sambre 1919 5,260 screw steel
Glamorganshire 1919 8,192 screw steel
Nagara 1919 8,803 screw steel
Segura 1919 5,295 screw steel
Somme 1919 5,265 screw steel
Severn 1919 5,246 screw steel
Radnorshire 1919 6,723 screw steel
Silarus 1919 5,101 screw steel
Siris 1919 5,242 screw steel
Narenta 1919 8,266 screw steel
Nictheroy 1920 8,265 screw steel
Orcana 1920 7,814 screw steel
Oruba 1920 7,818 screw steel
Natia 1920 8,723 screw steel
Nariva 1920 8,723 screw steel
Nebraska 1920 8,261 screw steel
Sarthe 1920 5,371 screw steel
Sabor 1920 5,212 screw steel
Montgomeryshire 1921 6,650 screw steel
Lochkatrine 1921 9,419 screw steel
Lochgoil 1922 9,462 screw steel
Culebra 1923 3,044 screw steel
Orca 1923 16,063 screw steel
Orduña 1923 15,499 screw steel
Orbita 1923 15,486 screw steel
Ohio 1923 18,940 screw steel
Lochmonar 1923 9,412 screw steel
RMS Asturias 1925 22,048 screw steel
RMS Alcantara 1926 22,209 screw steel

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Royal Mail Steam Packet Company". Shipping Lines. Plimsoll.org. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Dodd, George (1867). Railways steamers and telegraphs: a glance at their recent progress and present state. London: W&R Chambers. pp. 159–161. 
  3. ^ Nicol 2001b, p. 101.
  4. ^ Nicol 2001a, p. 130.
  5. ^ Nicol, Stuart. "The Royal Mail Story". Users.on.net. Retrieved 17 April 2012. [self-published source][dead link]
  6. ^ Nicol 2001b, p. 138.
  7. ^ Nicol 2001b, pp. 162–186.
  8. ^ Nicol 2001b, pp. 186–193.
  9. ^ Nicol 2001a, pp. 222–241.

Sources[edit]

  • Anonymous (1910). A Link of Empire; or, 70 years of British Shipping: Souvenir of the 70th year of incorporation of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. London: Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. 
  • Bushell, T.A. (1958) [1939]. Royal Mail: a Centenary History of the Royal Mail Line 1839–1939. London: Trade and Travel Publications Ltd. 
  • Bushell, T.A. (1950). Eight Bells, Royal Mail Lines War Story 1939–1945. London: Trade and Travel Publications Ltd. 
  • Nicol, Stuart (2001). MacQueen's Legacy; A History of the Royal Mail Line One. Brimscombe Port and Charleston, SC: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-2118-2. 
  • Nicol, Stuart (2001). MacQueen's Legacy; Ships of the Royal Mail Line Two. Brimscombe Port and Charleston, SC: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-2119-0. 

External links[edit]