Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Elder Dempster and Co

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1911. Royal Mail steamers.

1868 the British and African Steam Navigation Co was founded in Edinburgh (?) by a group of Glasgow businessmen. On 1 October Alexander Elder and John Dempster formed Elder, Dempster and Co to act as Liverpool agents for the new company.

1879 Alfred Jones became a partner in Elder Dempster and incorporated his business (founded in 1878 in Liverpool and also trading to West Africa) into it.

1880 Elder Dempster became managers of British and African Steam Navigation Co

1880 Alexander Elder and John Dempster retired from Elder Dempster and Company, but both continued as directors of the British and African Steam Navigation Company until 1900.

1889 Elder and Dempster acquired British and African Steam Navigation Co

1891 Elder Dempster also became managers of/acquired the African Steamship Co, rivals of British and African Steam Navigation Co

Was largely responsible for the carrying of bananas from the Canary Islands.

1898 Acquired Beaver Line, serving Canada.

1898 Joseph Chamberlain as Colonial Secretary suggested to Elder Dempster and Co that they investigate the potential for carrying bananas from Jamaica to Britain (a 14 day voyage).[1]

1899 The Elder-Dempster Shipping company was registered on 3 May, to acquire a fleet of steamers from Elder Dempster and Co. [2]

1901 Established the Imperial Direct West India Mail Service Co which arranged with Elders and Fyffes to import bananas into Britain.

1903 Sold Beaver Line to Canadian Pacific.

1909 Alfred Jones died. The company was acquired by Owen Cosby Philipps and Lord Pirrie, becoming part of the Royal Mail group; continued trading under its own name but as a limited company.

1911 Jointly with Royal Mail Steam Packet Co acquired Union Castle

1912 Acquired Glen Line, which operated to the Far East in parallel with Shire Line

1920 Elder Dempster and Company was one of the first firms to adopt the motorship - the Aba being the first large passenger motor liner in the world to be placed in commission (built in 1918 for Glen Line and acquired in 1920).

1931 After the collapse of the Royal Mail group, management passed to Alfred Holt and Co.

1932 Elder-Dempster Shipping, together with the African Steamship Co, and the British and African Steam Navigation Co, came under the Elder Dempster Lines name. [3]

1935 Acquired the Henderson Line

1944 Holt gave up management

1951 Elder Dempster purchased the British and Burmese Steam Navigation Co

1953 the Group name became Liner Holdings.

1953 Acquired Palm Line.

1965 Acquired Guinea Gulf Line.

1965 Liner Holdings Company, which held the Elder Dempster vessels, was incorporated into Ocean Steam Ship Co Ltd

1972 the group was renamed Ocean Transport and Trading.

1989 the Elder Dempster name, plus those of Palm Line and Guinea Gulf, was sold to Delmas-Vieljeux.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, August 3, 1962
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  3. | Wikipedia.
  • Elder Dempster Line [1]
  • Merseyside Maritime Museum [2]