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House flags of British shipping companies (1)

Last modified: 2004-08-14 by rob raeside
Keywords: borchard | brittanny ferries | bulk oil steamship | bristol steam navigation | british and commonwealth | brussels ss co | bullard king and co | buries markes ltd | burmah oil co | burnett steamship co | burns philp and |
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Borchard Lines Ltd.

[Borchard Lines houseflag] by Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

White flag with a wind-rose made of a four-pointed blue star (N W S E) and a four-pointed red star (NE SE SW NE) superimposed on it.
Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

Borchard Lines Ltd. Flag emblem is that of the German company Fairplay Schleppdampfschiffs Reederei Richard Borchard GmbH with the colours reversed.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


Bristol Steam Navigation Co.

[Bristol Steam Navigation Co. houseflag] by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 11 October 2003

[Bristol Steam Navigation Co. houseflag] by Rob Raeside

Bristol Steam Navigation Co. Coastal company with origins said to go back to around 1822, sources vary on the flag letters under two points. The first is whether the letters were black or blue and the second whether they were "BSNC" or "BSNCo." with the "o" being enhanced and the dot under it. According to Loughran (1979) the answer is that they were always black and he ascribes the confusion as resulting from an experiment in the 1950s when the colours on the funnel panel were changed to blue by a mate (I presume this only affected one ship therefore) but after he upgraded to a brighter blue the company, which had been gauging the effect, instructed a return to black but sources used this experiment as meaning a flag change had also occurred and so kept showing blue letters for it as well. However this seems to only apply to Stewart (1963), and as sources from Reed 1912 on show blue letters the confusion is probably due to the difficulty of distinguishing between black and dark blue. No comment is made on the "o". Some early 20th Century books show a different version with the red letters "SBNC" [see above] which is said to have originated from 19th Century sources but with company records having been decimated in a 1951 fire its use is uncertain. The company itself ceased around the early 1980s.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


British and Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd.

[British and Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd. houseflag]by Jarig Bakker

The Clan and the Union Castle lines and their associated companies, the Houston, Scottish Shire, Scottish Tanker, Thompson, Natal, and King Lines, were merged in 1956, under the title of the British and Commonwealth Shipping Company Ltd. At the same time a distinctive flag was adopted. It comprises a navy blue swallow-tailed pennant charged with a white-bordered diagonal red cross: on the centre thereof, a large white diamond bearing a red lion rampant. This, it will be observed, is a unique combination of the designs of the Clan and Union Castle house flags. It is worn by all ships in the group and is hoisted superior to their respective house flags.
Source: Carr (1961)
Jarig Bakker, 31 July 2001

As an ex-B & C Deck officer, who sailed with both Union-Castle and Clan Line, I can report that following the merger of 1953/4, each of the companies within the group retained their own house-flag, always flying this under the B & C flag on the mainmast. 'Pendennis Castle' was the flagship until the arrival of the fleet in 1960 of 'Windsor Castle' which was built as the flagship; however, as the commodore preferred the 'Pendennis', she remained the flagship at least well into the sixties.

It was normal practice during the fifties and sixties for ships to wear a stemjack when alongside or at anchor, and this was normally a slightly scaled-down version of the company house-flag (except in those companies which preferred to use the pilot-jack). In B & C, the stemjack was normally the individual company house-flag (not the B & C flag), but in Clan Line, for those ships having 'Clan' names, the red background was substituted by the ship's individual 'name' tartan; this practice was discontinued in 1966/7 due to increasing costs.

Incidentally, I would suggest that the Clan line flag shown on your web-site in not strictly correct - I am certain that the corners of the white diamond came nearer to, if not touching, the top, bottom and both sides of the red ground.
G. H. Watt, 6, 7 January 2004

British & Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd. I get the impression from studying video shots that the proportions are in the line of 2:3 rather than 1:2.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


British & Continental S.S. Co.

[British & Continental S.S. Co. houseflag]  by James Dignan

based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 14 October 2003

White with red St. George's Cross and blue capital BCSC in the four quarters.
Jarig Bakker, 14 October 2003

[British & Continental S.S. Co. houseflag]  by Rob Raeside

British & Continental Steamship Co. Ltd. All other sources that I have seen (Brown, Talbot-Booth and Stewart) show the cross fesse point basically centered as though on a normal rectangular flag i.e. closer to the fork which is also shown as deeper. It appears that the company traces it origins back to the St. George Steam Packet Co. Ltd. of 1822 which owned the "Sirius", the first steamer to cross the Atlantic without use of sails in 1838. Their flag was simply white with a red cross. In 1844 they were reconstructed as the Cork Steamship Co. which initially used a swallowtail version of the previous flag (in this case sources show the cross fessepoint midway between hoist and fork):

[British & Continental S.S. Co. houseflag]  by Rob Raeside

Lloyds 1904 and 1912 show that they apparently then surmounted the cross with a blue 6 pointed star with the same cross arrangement, although the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce 1909 sheet shows it as a star of 5 points. This company then presumably became the British & Continental Steamship Co. Ltd. in 1922 going by comments in Liverpool Shipping by George Chandler (1960).
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


British Channel Islands Shipping Co.

[British Channel Islands Shipping Co. houseflag]  by James Dignan

based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 14 October 2003

British Channel Islands Shipping Co. Ltd. Began in 1899 as the London & Channel Islands Steamship Co. Ltd. changing in 1936 to the British & Channel Islands Shipping Co. Ltd., and then in 1937 to the British Channel Islands Shipping Co. Ltd. Became part of the Coast Lines Ltd. group with the flag being unchanged throughout its life.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


British India Steam Navigation Co.

[British India Steam Navigation Co. houseflag]  by James Dignan

based on Sampson (1957)

Houseflag: White burgee with red St. Andrew's cross.

Brown's Flags and Funnels (1940):
British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. London
Funnel: Black with two white bands.
Flag: A white, forked flag, a red orthogonal saltire, starting from the hoist corners. The arms of the saltire are pictured 3:14 of the hoist wide. The fork is orthogonal as well, leaving a white border between saltire and edges. This border is pictured 4:14 of the hoist wide. (One can not help but wonder whether in the actual flag the white is as wideas the red beside it.)
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 18 October 2003

British India Steam Navigation Co. The fleet commodore used this flag with the addition of a red ball in the white hoist area.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004

Larousse Commercial Illustré (1930) shows British India, London: white swallow-tail with a red saltire. The flag's indentation is about one fourth deep, the distance between this edge and the saltire equalling the width of the saltire's arms. Now this width appears to be one fourth of the flag's height. The image shown above as `British India Steam Navigation Co.', shows a thinner saltire and much more room between the saltire and the indentation. The on-line 1912 Lloyd's Flags & Funnels has this flag under No. 638: http://www.mysticseaport.org/library/initiative/Impage.cfm?PageNum=33&bibid=11061&ChapterId=8
Jan Mertens, 16 May 2004


British Tanker Company

[British Tanker Company houseflag] by Jarig Bakker

White with a red St George's cross. Over the centre of this is a green diamond (edged in black?) with a lion passant regardant in the centre. I have a strange feeling I've seen this lion on green before, but I can't think where.
James Dignan, 18 October 2003

All about Ships and Shipping, 1938, shows a green elongated diamond in the center with a yellow lion; the 1959 edition has a square diamond (is that the word?) with a red lion statant, entitled "BP Tankers., Ltd.
Jarig Bakker, 18 October 2003

Flag can be seen on this site.
Jan Mertens, 16 May 2004

A subsidiary of Anglo-Persian Oil, founded in 1915. Anglo-Persian would eventually purchase British Petroleum in 1917.
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

[British Tanker Company houseflag] by Rob Raeside

[British Tanker Company houseflag] by Jarig Bakker

British Tanker Co. The original flag was red with a horizontal white band expanded at the centre in the form of a circle, the band bearing the black letters "BTC", the "T" being larger. According to the image in Loughran (1979) the red is edged black from the white bands but other sources neither show nor mention this so it may be incorrect. In 1926 the livery was changed to incorporate the Iranian national colours and lion which was shown as yellow and passant guardant. In 1955 the company name changed to BP Tanker Co. Ltd. and at that point the lion was changed to rampant and the colour to red. According to Lloyds the owners began as Anglo-Persian Oil Co.[formed in 1909], changing to Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Ltd. in 1935 before becoming British Petroleum Co. Ltd. in 1955.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004

[British Tanker Company houseflag] by David Prothero

By 1955, before British Tankers were re-named BP Shipping, the yellow lion passant guardant had been replaced a red lion rampant.
David Prothero, 18 May 2004

Loughran (1979), in "A Survey of Mercantile Houseflags and Funnels", writes:
"B.P. Tanker Co. Ltd., of London - Its markings have undergone many vicissitudes. The origins of the company date back to 1909, when the parent company, the Anglo-Persian Oil Co., was formed. Six years later,the British Tanker Co. Ltd., of London, was formed to manage the company's fleet <with as houseflag the triband with BTC>. ... The first houseflag and funnel marking was in use until 1926, when a most distinctive set of marking replaced them. A houseflag was adopted which consisted of the St. George's flag with a green diamond in the center, bearing a golden lion passant gardant. In 1955, a further series series of changes was made ... the golden lion was replaced by a red lion rampant. By this time the company had taken its present title (B.P. Tanker Co. Ltd.).
Jarig Bakker, 18 May 2004

[British Tanker Company houseflag] by Jarig Bakker

In 1968 <the BP shield was placed on a white field bordered green> a flag to match replaced the handsome lion flag. This is yet one more example of shore-based trademarks driving out traditional houseflag designs, and the result constitutes the present livery of the company."
Jarig Bakker, 18 May 2004

BP stations changed logo about two years ago to a green and yellow pattern looking like a stylised flower.
James Dignan, 19 May 2004


Brittanny Ferries Truckline

[Brittanny Ferries Truckline houseflag]
by Jorge Candeias, 18 Mar 1999

Yellow with a large black disc centered charged with a narrow grey arc near the edge.
Jorge Candeias, 18 Mar 1999

[Truckline Ferries France SA houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, 16 July 2004

Brittany Ferries Truckline. This is the French company Truckline Ferries France S.A. formed 1978 by CompagnieGénérale Maritime and Compagnie Maritime Worms & Charrbonnière. They sold it in 1984/5 to Bretagne-Angleterre-Irlande S.A. Brittany Ferries. Without knowing where this image originated from it is not possible to comment but according to Brown 1995 the flag was white with a panel resembling a flapping flag being yellow with a narrow white horizontal band and overall a black and white target. According to Ships Monthly 4/1999 its 2 vessels are now in the livery of the owners.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


Brussels S.S. Co.

[Brussels S.S. Co.. houseflag] by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 11 October 2003

This company was registered in London (Stewart & Styring, 1963). In 1954 the company appears to have had two coastal vessels: the "City of Brussels" and the "City of London." But this is different from the other more famous "City of Brussels" which was the first ship to cross the Atlantic in 8 days (different owner, different era).
Phil Nelson, 12 October 2003


Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd.

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag]

Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd., (British and Colonial Line) had its seat in London, with ships able to transport passengers first class from London to Madeira, Las Palmas, Teneriffa, Kaapstad, Algoabay and Natal.
Source: Brockhaus' Konversations-Lexikon, 14th ed (c. 1907)
Jarig Bakker, 15 October 2003

Bucknall Steamships Lines, Ltd. was acquired by the Ellerman Group as Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co.

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] by Rob Raeside

Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd. Originated 1850 with Henry Bucknall & Sons who used a plain red flag with the white letters "H.B&S" according to Reed 11891 though Loughran (1979) shows dots also after the "B" and "S". In 1890 the company split into Bucknall Nephews & Co. (manufacturing interests) and Bucknall Brothers (shipping interests).

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] by Rob Raeside

The formed remained in shipowning until 1910 and used a white flag with a widish red border and red "B" whilst the latter formed the British & Colonial Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] by Rob Raeside

The British & Colonial Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. flag was blue with 4 white diamonds dividing the field bearing the red letters "BCSN", this company being reformed in 1900 as Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd. with the flag as shown here. After being acquired by Ellerman Lines in 1908 it changed its name in 1914 to Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. Ltd.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


Bulk Oil Steamship co. Ltd

[Bulk Oil Steamship co. Ltd houseflag] by Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

Flag horizontally divided white-pink-white.
Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

Bulk Oil Steamship Co. Ltd. Formed in 1921 by James W. Cook & Co. Ltd. with Talbot-Booth showing under that name. The colour is mauve and is said to be based on the colours of the Victoria Cross which was won by the founder in WW1. Not an easy colour for sources to portray so colours do vary between brown and blue in several cases. The ships were acquired by William Cory & Son in 1958 and although the company appear to have continued initially, by the mid 1960s they were absorbed into the Cory fleet.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


Bullard, King & Co.

[Bullard, King & Co. houseflag] by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 19 October 2003

Founded 1850 and purchased in 1919 by Union Castle.
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

Red with white St. George's cross; in the center white rectangle changed with red letter BK&Co (o superscript) - the British & Commonwealth Shipping Co.'s burgee is flown superior to House flag.
Jarig Bakker, 19 October 2003

Bullard, King & Co. Operated as the Natal Line, Natal Line of Steamers and/or Natal Direct Line. In 1960 its fleet was absorbed into the Springbok Line. Most sources show a dot under the "o".
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


Buries Markes Ltd

[Buries Markes Ltd houseflag] by Jarig Bakker after Brown (1951)

White with a blue border. In the centre is a red diamond containing some kind of plant. Above the diamond and to the hoist is a letter B, below and to the fly is a letter M (both letters black?)  Source: Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 19 October 2003

Founded 1930, acquired by Louis Dreyfus in 1938.
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

Lloyd's description: White edged blue; gold ear of corn on red diamond and BM in red.
Jarig Bakker, 19 October 2003


Burmah Oil Co., Ltd (Tankers)

[Burmah Oil Co., Ltd (Tankers) houseflag] by Jarig Bakker

Red, white and blue diagonal tricolor; white B, black O, white C.Source: All about Ships & Shipping, 1938
Jarig Bakker, 20 October 2003

A very prominent company in the British oil business. When the first commercial oil discovery was made in the Middle East in 1908, Burmah provided 97% of the funding for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later British Petroleum).
Phil Nelson, 20 October 2003

[Burmah Oil Co., Ltd (Tankers) houseflag] by Rob Raeside

Burmah Oil Co. Ltd. (Tankers). They later adopted a white flag bearing what was, I understand, the petrol-pump sign of a triband panel of red-white-blue, the top and bottom edges being pointed and the white band bearing the black legend "Burmah". These days their only shipping involvement appears to be a joint venture with Shell in the 104T tanker "Lady Myrtle" based Mumbai, India.
Neale Rosanoski
, 22 March 2004


Burnett Steamship Co., Ltd.

[Burnett Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] by Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

Flag horizontally divided black-yellow-black.
Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

Burnett Steamship Co. Ltd. Talbot-Booth shows a vertical triband but he is the only source to do so.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004


Burns & Laird Lines

[Burns & Laird Lines houseflag] by Jarig Bakker

This flag is very similar to Cunard's crowned lion holding a globe, but, unlike the Cunard flag, there is no wreath under the lion and the field is blue, not red.
James Dignan, 16 October 2003

Burns & Laird Lines. Formed in 1922 by the amalgamation of G. & J. Burns Ltd. and Laird Line Ltd. by the then owners Coast Lines Ltd., becoming part of P&O in 1971 and absorbed into P&O Ferries in 1975. The flag is that G. & J. Burns adopted c.1880 and reputed to be based on the Cunard flag adopted at the same time, George Burns having been involved in the formation of the British & North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. which was the forerunner of the Cunard Line.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004

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