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Royal Mail Steam Packet Co / Royal Mail Lines

Fact file

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

Owners / Company name

Royal Mail Lines Ltd

Company flag

Company flagWhite with red St Andrew`s Cross and gold crown in centre.

[definition of flag terms

Major routes

London / Southampton - Spain - Brazil

London - West Indies - Central America - west coast of USA

Canada - West Indies

Ship colours

Company ship

Black hull. Buff coloured funnels.


1840Newly-formed Royal Mail Steam Packet Company signs a contract with the UK Admiralty for shipping mail overseas
1851Teviot departs from Southampton, inaugurating the first Royal Mail sailing from the port to Brazil
1869A direct service from Southampton to the River Plate (east coast of South America) begins and lasts for a century
1903Lord Kylsant elected chairman of the company. He negotiated a new charter, allowing the company to begin expanding
1904Solent is the company`s first ship to be dedicated to passenger cruises
1910The company expands by taking over other operators, including Union-Castle, Elder Dempster and Lamport & Holt
1919The group buys many of the cargo ship under construction after the First World War, to replace over 100 ships it lost
1927Royal Mail buys White Star Line, making it the largest shipping group in the world
1931Company chairman Lord Kylsant is arrested and jailed for misleading shareholders. The UK government intervenes to stop the company collapsing. To continue shipping operations, a new company - Royal Mail Lines Ltd - is created
1950sTen new cargo liners are ordered. Along with other ships bought after the Second World War, this re-establishes Royal Mail as a major liner operator to North, Central and South America
1965Furness Withy & Co buys Royal Mail Lines
1969Aragon and Arlanza are sold to Shaw, Savill and Albion, ending transport of mail by the company
1969Liner Andes is broken up, marking the end of 130 years of passenger transport by sea

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