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Peninsular & Oriental (P&O)

Fact file

This fact file is a snapshot of the company between 1930 and 1945.

Owners / Company name

Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company

Company flag

Company flagSquare divided into quarters diagonally: coloured white, red, yellow and blue clockwise from the top.

[definition of flag terms

Major routes

London - Bombay - Australia

Antwerp - London - China - Japan

Southampton agent

Escombe McGrath & Co

Ship colours

Company ship

Black hull with a horizontal white stripe. Black funnels.


1836Company is established, sailing from London to Spain and Portugal. A service to India was is also operated, with an overland journey between Alexandria and Port Suex (Egypt)
1845Services are extended to Singapore and the Far East 
1853Southampton - Capetown - Australia sailings start 
1880-1900Rapid growth makes P&O the main British shipping company. It builds cargo liners and carries emigrants to Australia

P&O ships no longer call at Southampton; instead they serve London 
1910-20sP&O embarks on a spending spree - buying several shipping companies, including the British India Steam Navigation Company, New Zealand Shipping Company, Federal Line, Orient Line, General Steam Navigation Company and Hain Steam Ship Company

Under chairman Lord Inchcape, P&O`s fleet numbered nearly 500 ships, including passenger liners, colliers, pleasure steamers and cargo liners
1930sThe "Strath" liners are painted in a new white livery, in place of the usual black hull and funnels 
1971The P&O General Cargo division is formed in to operate all the subsidiary companies` cargo ships as one fleet. Their individual company names disappear
1974P&O abolishes separate passenger classes and acquired Princess Cruises
1980sThe group takes control of Overseas Containers and buys ferry group European Ferries.
1996P&O Containers and Neddloyd Lines merge to form P&O Neddloyd, one of the largest container shipping companies in the world.
1998P&O Neddloyd buys up Blue Star Line.

P&O and Stena merge their cross-Channel ferry services between Dover, Calais and Northern Europe




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