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British shipping companies (H)

Last modified: 2014-03-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: harrison line | hay & co. | hardy & macgregor | hargreaves coal | harland and wolff | harrisons |
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Hargreaves Coal and Shipping Ltd.

[Ben Line 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 Hargreaves Coal and Shipping Ltd., London. A rectangular red house flag with a large white diamond bearing the black letter 'H' in the centre. 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."
Jarig Bakker, 15 August 2004

Harland and Wolff

[Harland and Wolff houseflag] image by Martin Grieve

The house flag of Harland and Wolff, the Belfast company who constructed RMS Titanic, is shown in The Observer's Book of flags, (1966 edition). There in full colour the house flag of the company is quartered per saltire red (hoist and fly) and yellow (top and bottom). Emblazoned in the centre is a blue lozenge, fimbriated yellow, with black outline to separate the two yellow portions. In the centre of the blue lozenge appear the lettering HW in an interlocking format all in white. So far so good - but I decided to try and get some more info, and consulted The book of flags (1965 edition) and then the problems started to surface! On page 42 we have:

"Many shipbuilding companies also have their own House flags, John Brown & Co. Ltd. use their initials with a red saltire on a white field. Vickers-Armstrong combine theirs with a light blue cross on a white field. **Those of Harland and Wolff appear in blue on a small red-bordered diamond at the centre of a flag of 'envelope' design, blue and white.**"
Last night on TV there was a documentary entitled "Return to the Titanic" - and not giving any thought to flags, decided to tune-in. You can imagine my surprise when Dr Robert Ballard and his entourage were seen waving the Harland and Wolff flag - and this was different yet again to *both* described above. The design they had was: exactly as Observers book, but instead of yellow quarters top and bottom - white was used. I am convinced therefore that this version has the most credibility, and show it here.

This is of course, not quite "closure" and I would encourage anyone to confirm my version here - or for that matter, to report other variations in publications at your disposal. It could just be that the house flag has undergone changes over the years?
Martin Grieve, 11 June 2004

See also:

Harris & Dixon Ltd.

[Harris & Dixon Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 29 January 2006

Harris & Dixon Ltd., London - red flag, in center white burgee with three blue stripes and in the center a red diamond.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 29 January 2006

J & C Harrison

[J & C Harrison houseflag] image from Talbot-Booth (1936)  [J & C Harrison houseflag] image from Wedge 1926

White with a blue border. In the centre an arm emerging from a wreath holding a broken lance. Underneath is a scroll.
James Dignan, 19 October 2003

Lloyd's description: White, blue border; in center, blue arm and hand holding broken spear over "PERSEVERE" in scroll.
Jarig Bakker, 19 October 2003

J & C Harrison. The original flag apparently did not have a border which is described by Talbot-Booth (1936) as being royal blue with the motto being also blue. Brown 1958 notes the addition of the border but as Talbot-Booth had shown it in 1936 they were a bit late.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004

I found an image in Browns Flags and Funnels, 1926 [Wedge 1926]. Description: white flag, blue sleeve with white blue-contoured hand holding a red broken arrow pointing towards the hoist; at bottom blue contoured ribbon charged with "PERSEVERE" in blue. Between sleeve and ribbon three yellow stars (?). Caption: J & C Harrison (1920) Ld., London
Jarig Bakker, 3 February 2005

T. & J. Harrison Ltd.

[T & J Harrison Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker

From Scott, R.M., The Caltex book of Flags and Funnels, Cape Town, Caltex Africa Ltd. (1959).

Commodore's flag - red swallowtail; at the hoist four white cones in saltire.
Jarig Bakker, 10 January 2005

Company continued from Charente Steamship Co. Ltd. in the 1950's.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 April 2004

The firm of T & J Harrison, also shown as Thos. & Jas. Harrison, was formed in 1853 as a partnership. It is not clear when it became a limited company with the earliest record I have being shown in Lloyds Shipowners 1953-4. By 2000 the company was effectively finished.

The flag appears in many books by many authors and most of them have different versions which makes the NMM actual flag more important. Apart from the variances in how much of the flag the cross paty occupied, the main difference is whether the sides of the cross were straight [as with the NMM flag] or whether they were curved [as is shown by most sources dating back to Reed 1891]. Whilst there may have been changes throughout its life, I cannot find anything to substantiate this.

[T & J Harrison Ltd. houseflag]

The commodore's flag shown by Jarig is confirmed by Loughran 1979 but here again there are differences in the depicture. Louis for his version here is like that for the company with curved sides for the cross, but not with the narrow points effect where the arms meet [see image above], but in an article in Marine News 4/1970 he shows the straight sided version of Jarig but this is a result of it coming from the same source i.e. from the R.M Scott publication for Caltex. His showing of curved sides versus the NMM version with the Thos & Jas Harrison Ltd. flags showing in Brown 1982 and 1995 as well as his 1979 book could mean that there was later change or may just mean that the difference has never been noticed or considered important.
Neale Rosanoski, 7 October 2013

Harrison Line

[Harrison Line houseflag] image by Al Fisher, 09 Feb 1999

This company was known as T & J Harrison in the 1950's.
James Dignan, 8 October 2003

Larousse Commercial Illustré (1930) shows Harrison Line, Liverpool: white, a large red cross formy throughout which fills up almost the entire field. Compare with the illustration here, where the house flag is square and leaves much more white. You can see a square version at

The on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels gives it in a traditional form under No. 836 for 'Charente Steamship Co., Ltd. (Harrison Line), Liverpool and London' whereas the many other Harrisons have completely different house flags. Here's a link to the flag in question, it's on page 42: which this ties in with:
Jan Mertens, 28 May 2004

Harrisons (Clyde) Ltd.

[Harrisons (Clyde) 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 Harrisons (Clyde) Ltd., Glasgow. A white swallow-tailed burgee divided vertically by three wavy lines. A red 'H' is superimposed on the lines in imitation of a bridge across a river. 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. The wavy lines are said to represent the three partners who formed the company in 1956."
Jarig Bakker, 15 August 2004

Hay & Co.

[Hay & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 6 March 2004

British shipping companies (H). Hay & Co. This company no longer exists having been formed in 1844 In Lerwick, Shetland Islands and in its time involved in shipowning, boat building. Fishing and whaling, ship agency and sundry other things. In 1922 it changed its name to Hay & Co. (Lerwick) Ltd. [its old website ignores this and just claims to be Hay & Co.] and became part of John Fleming & Co. Ltd. before being sold in 1999 to OBC Group and becoming OBC Hay. The flag image is apparently based on the flag logo which can be seen at
Neale Rosanoski, 14 October 2013 

J. Hay & Sons

[J. Hay & Sons houseflag] image by James Dignan

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

Based in Glasgow, Scotland
Phil Nelson, 12 October 2003

J. Hay & Sons. Sampson would seem to have it wrong as all other sources I have seen show both the bands and letter as blue.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004

British shipping companies (H). J. Hay & Sons. Formed about 1862 as J. Hay & Sons and later becoming J. Hay & Sons Ltd., the company was taken over by F.T. Everard & Sons Ltd. in 1956 although it continued to be shown in Lloyds up until the start of the 1980s. I would imagine that use of its livery gradually ended. However the colour on its flag was blue for the bands and "H", not red. Blue is shown by all other sources [editions of Lloyds, Griffin, Brown, Talbot Booth and LJC] as I note in my comment of 15.6.2004 and since then I have acquired a copy of Sampson. In fairness to James there is no code given for the B&W hatchings but I have checked them against other flags shown and confirmed that unlike the only code shown, which is on p.273 which is for national ensigns, and which show a solid colour for blue, elsewhere horizontal lines equal blue whilst in all cases vertical lines equal red – and they are horizontal lines for this flag.
Neale Rosanoski, 14 October 2013 

British Shipping lines: continued