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British shipping companies (A)

Last modified: 2021-05-29 by rob raeside
Keywords: shipping lines |
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Aitken, Lilburn & Co. (Loch Line)

[Aitken, Lilburn & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache

The flag is white with a red triangle charged with the letters G.S.C. Co (white).
Source: 1911 Lloyd's flag book, as illustrated at The Mystic Seaport Foundation.
Ivan Sache, 14 January 2004

[Aitken, Lilburn & Co. houseflag]   [Aitken, Lilburn & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache

The company originated in 1867 winding up in 1912 and only operated sailing vessels. Originated they used "Clan" names but after Clan Line was formed they adopted a first name of "Loch" hence Loch Line [a name also used by at least two other companies]. Griffin 1883 and 1895 also show this flag for the Glasgow Shipping Co. which they formed in 1870 for the Australian trade and they were also involved with the General Shipping Co. which was formed in 1893 with different investors for the Australian trade and managed by Aitken, Lilburn, and for which two flag versions are shown. Griffin 1895 shows diagonal quarters of red, white and blue with the blue letters "S" and "G" on the white and the white "Co." on the blue [see G264 above] whilst "The Colonial Clippers" by Basil Lubbock shows the same quarters but with the letters being "G", "S", and "Coy." respectively [see G265 above] with the latter arrangement of the first two letters making more sense.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 August 2010

Albion Steamship Co., Ltd.

[Albion Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Albion Steamship Co., Ltd. (#1229, p. 95), a Newcastle-based company, as white with a lion.
Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

Ald Shipping Co.

[Ald Shipping Co. houseflag] image by James Dignan

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

Appears to have been out of Bristol.
Phil Nelson, 12 October 2003

Ald Shipping Co. Formed 1923 and out of Bristol, last ship sold in 1960.
Neale Rosanoski, 9 February 2004

W.H.J. Alexander Ltd.

(Sun Tugs)

[W.H.J. Alexander Ltd. houseflag] image by Eugene Ipavec, 18 February 2009

W.H.J. Alexander Ltd. or “Sun Tugs” is yet another towage company featured in the Thames Tugs site. First page of two, mainly showing photos and describing boats’ careers:
“W.H.J. Alexander Ltd began operating from Wapping as a lighterage company in 1883. 1899 saw the beginning of the use of the prefix 'Sun' on all their vessels. For many years they were based at St. Johns Wharf, Wapping, where 'WHJ' was reputed to often sleep on a camp bed. WHJ died in 1929 and the business was inherited by his six sons, all tug masters, and two daughters. The eldest son, George, then ran the business, and also skippered a tug at Dunkirk. 1938 saw them contributing four tugs and 150 barges to the Silvertown Services consortium and thereafter they concentrated on ship towing. On 27-1-1969 they joined with Ship Towage (London) Ltd to form London Tugs Ltd.”

We are shown a red house flag bearing a white diamond with a large initial ‘A’ without serifs. A larger example is no. 847 in the on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels:, although, oddly, the initial is not centered here (doubtless an positioning error in printing): ‘W.H.J. Alexander, London’.
Jan Mertens,17 February 2009

[W.H.J. Alexander Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 27 April 2021

W.H.J. Alexander Ltd. Jan's comments on the printing in Lloyds (1912) would appear to be spot on. It is not clear in the website scan but the original shows they have the diamond points top and bottom slightly askew as well. Unusual for this publication of course and they have the "A" centred in the 1904 version as it is in Loughran (1979). However the thamestug website does not agree on the diamond because they have shown their diamond as being within the field, not by much top and bottom but definitely at the sides. Their funnel version shows an orange band, when everyone else agrees that it is red, taken no doubt from their sole coloured ship photo which could be taken as showing orange so perhaps it was a reddish/orange shade. But it does make them a bit suspect to me. Then for a bit more variety the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chart of 1966 also shows a diamond within the flag field but gives a blue "A". The best support for the diamond being throughout the field comes from a model of the "Sun XVI" [assuming that the modeler has been meticulous in detail] at,com_gallery2/Itemid,87/lang,de/?g2_itemId=14156 which helps for the flag detail but only confuses the funnel colours with 2 orange bands against 1 red band.
Neale Rosanoski, 1 January 2010

Alexander & Mair

[Alexander & Mair houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Originally Alexander & Arthurs started in 1898 with a small fleet and traded mostly to Mediterranean ports. In 1908 R. T. Arthurs struck out on his own and Alexander & Mair was formed with 3 ships all suffixed .......GROVE.

RootsWeb Project

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Alexander & Mair (#1780, p. 121), a Glasgow-based shipping company, as swallow-tailed, white with a red cross, charged in the center with a white square diamond inscribing a blue "A".
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Alexandra (Newport & South Wales) Docks & Railway Co.

[George Hallett houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

The Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway was formed in 1882 from the former Newport Dock Company of 1865. Amalgamated in 1923 into the Great Western Railway, the railway was closed in 1967.

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of the Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway (#13O5, p. 99), as white with a red cross quartered by the red letter "A", "N", "D" and "R".
Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

Alexandra Towing

[Alexandra Towing houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

The house flag of the Alexandra Towing Co. Ltd, Liverpool. On a white background, there is a red cross with the initials 'ATCL' in the quarters. 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 company were tug owners, originating in Liverpool and initially operating in the docks and on the Manchester ship canal. They incorporated Alexandra Towing Co. on 11 August 1887. In 1908 the company took over the six tugs of the W. & T. Joliffe fleet, designed for sea towing. The Alexandra tugs followed the passenger liners to Southampton in 1919 and the firm also opened an office at Swansea in 1925. They took over their Liverpool rivals W. H. Lamey in 1968 and various other local firms in 1967 in a bid to rationalize the towage business on the Mersey. In 1974 they took over London Tugs Ltd, forming Alexandra Towing Co. (London) Ltd. During the 1970s they diversified into other transport businesses."
Jarig Bakker, 3 August 2004

[Alexandra Towing houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows a similar house flag (#1499, p. 108), but with red letters.
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Alfred Holt & Co. (Blue Funnel Line)

[Alfred Holt & Co. houseflag] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 10 October 2003

Also known as the Blue Funnel Line - Ocean Steam Ship Company. Ltd., and China Mutual Steam Navigation Company Ltd.
Houseflag: Blue, with White Diamond, AH in Black in center.
Jarig Bakker, 10 October 2003

See for a history of the company.
Phil Nelson, 10 October 2003

Larousse Commercial Illustré (1930) shows Alfred Holt (Blue Funnel Line), Liverpool: blue, a white diamond in the centre bearing a black monogram AH (with serifs, the letters joined). The distances from the flag's edges to the diamond's appear equal (that is to say, about one fourth of flag height), while the monogram's height is about one third of the flag's.
Jan Mertens, 16 May 2004

Allan Bros. & Co; H.K., Ltd.

[Allan Line houseflag]image by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 2 December 2010

The "Allan" Line Steamship Co., Ltd. was founded in Glasgow begin 19th century, and became Ltd in 1897; London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Le Havre - East coast of North America, from the St. Lawrence till the La Plata.
Houseflag: red pennant over a vertical triband of red, white and blue.
Source: Houseflag chart in Brockhaus' Konversations-Lexikon, 14th ed (c.1907)
Jarig Bakker, 13 October 2003

The Allan Line was more formally known as Montreal Ocean Steamship Company. It merged with the Canadian Pacific Line in 1915 and operated as Canadian Pacific Ocean Services afterwards.
Phil Nelson, 13 October 2003

Allan Line. Could also be listed under Canada. They originated from UK as sailing ship operators with the family becoming established on both sides of the Atlantic but the change to steamships was effected by the formation of the Montreal Ocean Steamship Co. in Montreal, with in due course H & A Allan looking after the Canadian side and Allan Brothers the UK side. The 1897 reorganisation saw Montreal Ocean Steamship become Allan Line of Steamships Ltd. and was presumably also registered in Canada with the ships appearing to be registered in either country. The UK company apparently became Hall Brothers Steam Ship Co., U.K. Ltd. and some later sources show the livery under this name and domicile, others inclining to merely using Allan Line. Originally the main flag was blue-white-red, the change being shown by Lloyds 1904 and I suspect that it may have occurred with the 1897 change.
Neale Rosanoski, 9 February 2004

"Flags and Funnels of the British and Commonwealth Merchant Fleets" shows a shorter pennant than shown above.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 June 2006

Improper use of French flag in Dublin:
18 June 1868. Captain Robert Jenkins of HMS Royal George at Kingstown reported that SS Moravian owned by J. & A. Allen arrived flying the French flag under a red pennant at the mainmast. The company claimed that the tricolour was their private ensign before it became the French national flag.
[National Archives (PRO) MT 9/47 (M8961/69)]
[see 19th Century ensign legislation for more examples]
David Prothero, 8 October 2003

The same house flag is shown (#1755, p. 120) in Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912).
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

R. & C. Allan

[R. & C. Allan houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of R. & C. Allan (#1381, p. 102), a Glasgow-based company, as horizontally divided blue-white-red.
Ivan Sache, 30 April 2021

Albyn Line Ltd.

Allan, Black & Co.


[Allan, Black & Co. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Allan, Black & Co.
It is a white flag with a black thistle in its centre. The company was located in Sunderland and existed at least since 1910.
Source: Campbell and Evans (1953); plate V, flag no.9
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 25 October 2010

Allan Black & Co. Formed 1901 by William Black and Walter B. Allan to manage the newly formed Albyn Line, they went into voluntary liquidation 7/1966 following the ceasing in business of Albyn Line Ltd. The flag is generally shown in the name of Albyn Line Ltd. often together with the name of the managers in brackets , or as in this case in the managers name only.
Neale Rosanoski, 18 December 2010

The Albyn Line was founded as a private company in Sunderland in 1901 with Sir William Allan (1837-1903) as its chairman. After his death, Sir James (later Lord) Joicey (1846-1936) succeeded him. From then until the dissolution of the company in 1966 the office of chairman was filled by members of the Joicey family. Following a management contract in 1901 between the new company and the already existing firm of Allan Black and Company, the latter's managing director and managers took over these posts in the new company as well. The pattern of Albyn Line trade was South Welsh or Tyne coal outwards to the Continent or Port Said, and after discharge in ballast through the Dardanelles to Odessa to load grain for London or the Continent. Other areas served occasionally were the River Plate and the Gulf of Mexico. At the outbreak of the First World War the company owned four vessels. Apart from one which was detained by the Turks for the duration of the war, all the others were lost in 1917. Until 1924 the Albyn Line operated with only one ship and the voyages tended to be of longer duration. During this period its income was supplemented by the profits of its shipping agency business. Two ships were built in 1924 and 1925, and in 1928 and 1929 four more new ships were immediately laid up because of the depression. As in 1914, the Albyn Line entered the Second World War with four ships, only one of which survived. In the 1950s three motor ships were built and they were chartered to liner or tramp companies. From 1961 trading conditions became less and less profitable and in 1966 the firm went into voluntary liquidation.

Archives in London and the M25 area

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Albyn Line Ltd. (Allan, Black & Co.) (#1826, p. 123), a Sunderland-based shipping company, as white with a black thistle.

The Albyn Line ships were known as the "Thistle Boats", being all named "Thistle...".

Allantone Supplies Ltd.

[Allantone Supplies Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 29 January 2006

Allantone Supplies Ltd., Felixstowe - horizontal 7 stripes of yellow and red; in center orange "A".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 29 January 2006

Allchorn Pleasure Boats

[Allchorn Pleasure Boats houseflag] image by Jan Mertens, 5 April 2009

Founded in 1861 by former fisherman Edward Allchorn, Allchorn Pleasure Boats provide tourist excursions from Eastbourne, E. Sussex (GB), May-October each year. Company website:
After a long boom period the business declined, and in 1964 Allchorn bought up its only remaining competitor, Sayers Brothers. Variously called William Allchorn & Sons and Allchorn Brothers, the firm is now no longer a family business but presently – after a 2001-2006 stint by Maritima Ltd - owned by Mr Jason Foster.

From the ‘Cruises’ section: “Allchorn Pleasure Boats operate daytime heritage round trip pleasure cruises from Eastbourne's beach to Beachy Head and its famous lighthouse. Each cruise is of approximately 45 minutes duration and features a live commentary on board one of our historic and classic Sussex-built beach boats. (...) Evening Cruises, Theme Parties, Corporate Functions and TV and Film Production can be arranged..."

Two vessels are operated (although one ship, ‘Southern Queen’, is now for sale) while a genuine DUKW ferries passengers to them at low tide and serves as a workhorse: Numerous photographs appear on the specialized Simplon PC site, the lower ones clearly showing the house flag:, quarterly divided blue and white, a red initial ‘A’ (no serifs) placed in the centre.

Additional information:
Jan Mertens, 5 April 2009

Allen Steam Fishing Co., Ltd.

[Allen Steam Fishing Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 25 April 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of
Allen Steam Fishing Co., Ltd. (#535, p. 62), a Grimsby-based company, as horizontally divided red-white-red, charged in the center with a red lozenge.
Ivan Sache, 25 April 2021

British Shipping lines: continued