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House flags of British shipping companies (4)

Last modified: 2004-07-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: house flag | gracechurch container | g. t. gillie & blair | great yarmouth shipping co. | hain steamship | hall brothers | harrison line | hay & co. | h. hogarth | h clarkson | g | headlam and son | hindustan steam ship co | c |
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Harland and Wolff

[Harland and Wolff houseflag] by Martin Grieve

The house flag of Harland and Wolff, the Belfast company who constructed RMS Titanic, is shown in The Observer's Book of flags, (1966 edition). There in full colour the house flag of the company is quartered per saltire red (hoist and fly) and yellow (top and bottom). Emblazoned in the centre is a blue lozenge, fimbriated yellow, with black outline to separate the two yellow portions. In the centre of the blue lozenge appear the lettering HW in an interlocking format all in white. So far so good - but I decided to try and get some more info, and consulted The book of flags (1965 edition) and then the problems started to surface! On page 42 we have:

"Many shipbuilding companies also have their own House flags, John Brown & Co. Ltd. use their initials with a red saltire on a white field. Vickers-Armstrong combine theirs with a light blue cross on a white field. **Those of Harland and Wolff appear in blue on a small red-bordered diamond at the centre of a flag of 'envelope' design, blue and white.**"
Last night on TV there was a documentary entitled "Return to the Titanic" - and not giving any thought to flags, decided to tune-in. You can imagine my surprise when Dr Robert Ballard and his entourage were seen waving the Harland and Wolff flag - and this was different yet again to *both* described above. The design they had was: exactly as Observers book, but instead of yellow quarters top and bottom - white was used. I am convinced therefore that this version has the most credibility, and show it here.

This is of course, not quite "closure" and I would encourage anyone to confirm my version here - or for that matter, to report other variations in publications at your disposal. It could just be that the house flag has undergone changes over the years?
Martin Grieve, 11 June 2004

J & C Harrison

White with a blue border. In the centre an arm emerging from a wreath holding a broken lance. Underneath is a scroll.
James Dignan, 19 October 2003

Lloyd's description: White, blue border; in center, blue arm and hand holding broken spear over "PERSEVERE" in scroll.
Jarig Bakker, 19 October 2003

[J & C Harrison houseflag]

J & C Harrison. The original flag apparently did not have a border which is described by Talbot-Booth (1936) as being royal blue with the motto being also blue. Brown 1958 notes the addition of the border but as Talbot-Booth had shown it in 1936 they were a bit late.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004

Harrison Line

[Harrison Line houseflag] by Al Fisher, 09 Feb 1999

This company was known as T & J Harrison in the 1950's.
James Dignan, 8 October 2003

Larousse Commercial Illustré (1930) shows Harrison Line, Liverpool: white, a large red cross formy throughout which fills up almost the entire field. Compare with the illustration here, where the house flag is square and leaves much more white. You can see a square version at

The on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels gives it in a traditional form under No. 836 for 'Charente Steamship Co., Ltd. (Harrison Line), Liverpool and London' whereas the many other Harrisons have completely different house flags. Here's a link to the flag in question, it's on page 42: which this ties in with:
Jan Mertens, 28 May 2004

Hay & Co.

[Hay & Co. houseflag] by Ivan Sache, 6 March 2004

J. Hay & Sons

[J. Hay & Sons houseflag] by James Dignan

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

Based in Glasgow, Scotland
Phil Nelson, 12 October 2003

J. Hay & Sons. Sampson would seem to have it wrong as all other sources I have seen show both the bands and letter as blue.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004

Headlam and Son

[Headlam and Son houseflag] by Phil Nelson, 7 April 2000

from Stewart and Styring's Flags, Funnels and Hull Colors 1963

Headlam & Sons. Originated 1890 according to Talbot-Booth who gives earlier names as Headlam & Rowland and Robinson & Rowland. The latter appears to have originated the flag only the colours were then reversed with the border being blue and the cross red as shown by Reed 1891. There was a merger with T. Marwood & Son which produced Rowland & Marwood's Steam Ship Co. Ltd. and they continued to use this flag except that the sources from Griffin 1895, with the exception of Lloyds 1904, show the flag as being square. Headlam & Sons are given as the managers who also operated through Headlam & Sons Steamship Co. Ltd. until the late 1960s using the same flag so they may have been owners also. In 1934 the company succumbed to Admiralty pressure re displaying the Red Cross emblem on white which had been outlawed by the Geneva Convention Act of 1911 and reversed the colours. This change may also have seen the flag change to a rectangle, or it may have occurred later, as although Talbot-Booth in 1949 was still stating that the flag was square, other sources from Brown 1943 on show a rectangular version.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004

Henderson Line (British & Burmese Steam Navigation Co., Ltd., & Burmah Steamship Co., Ltd.)

[Henderson Line] by Jarig Bakker, 30 June 2003

Henderson Line (British & Burmese Steam Navigation Co., Ltd., & Burmah Steamship Co., Ltd.)
Funnel: Black
House Flag: Red, White and Blue vertical Tricolour, with Union Jack in centre.
Ships: Prome, Salween, Yoma, Pegu, Amarapoora, Sagaing, Kemmendine, Burma, Katha, Kindat, Chindwin, Manadalay, Irrawaddy, Arracan, Henzada, Martaban.
Source: All About Ships & Shipping, by Edwin P. Harnack (ed.), 1938
Jarig Bakker, 30 June 2003

I understood that there was another similar flag to the one you described but as follows: A vertical tricolour, red, white and blue but this one had an emblem of a Scottish thistle centred in the white band. Do you by any chance know any thing about this flag.
Tom McGeachie, 30 June 2003

I have a source which shows the Burns, Philp & Co., Ltd. houseflag as a regular r/w/b vertical tricolor with the thistle centered on the white stripe.
Source: Stewart (1953)
Ned Smith, 1 July 2003

I was one of the last people employed by Hendersons and the origin of the "Tricolour" is interesting. The French government allowed it, as a reward for Hendersons
transporting French troops from Marseilles to the Crimea, during the Crimean war. This tricolour was then again, at the request of the French government, reversed to the signal letter "T", (Red to the hoist) to avoid confusion.
Brian Dickson, 28 August 2003

Henderson Line. The fleet commodore used a swallowtailed version of the flag. Some sources show the white band as broader both for this flag and its predecessor. The flag is also shown by various sources for the Irrawady Flotilla Co. Ltd. which they controlled or managed and which operated on the Irrawady River in Burma.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004

A.F. Henry & MacGregor

[A.F. Henry & MacGregor houseflag] by James Dignan

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

Reportedly headquartered in Leith, Scotland
Phil Nelson, 14 October 2003

A.F. Henry & MacGregor. Sources vary as to size and shape of the diamond. This version is supported by Talbot-Booth whereas the Brown series show the diamond within the field although the later versions do make it larger. However these editions are not consistent with one omitting the letters and others giving their colours as black. The early Stewarts show it as here but in 1963 it is shown as nearly throughout.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004

G. Heyn & Sons

Blue. To hoist, in three rows, the letters U/SS/Co. in white(?). To the fly, a shield containing a raised hand (I'd guess the red hand of Ulster, only on this image it seems to be a left hand).
James Dignan, 19 October 2003

Founded 1823. Currently operates as a ship agent for Orient Overseas Container Line, Ellerman Line, Finnlines, ECS, and Shipping Corporation of India.
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

Lloyd's description: Blue; red hand with three drops of blood below on white shield and letters USSCo in white (Ulster S.S. Co., Ltd., Head Line, Lord Line, Holland - Ireland line, Mountain S.S. Co., Ltd.)
Jarig Bakker, 19 October 2003

Hindustan Steam Ship Co. Ltd.

[Hindustan Steam Ship CO. Ltd. houseflag] by Phil Nelson, 6 April 2000

from Stewart and Styring's Flags, Funnels and Hull Colors 1963

Brown 306: Hindustan Steam Shipping Co., Ltd. (Common Bros), Newcastle-on-Tyne
Funnel: Black, on a wide red band bordered white a white C.
Flag: 2:3; quartered Blue before Yellow over White before Red. (The C on the funnel could be for "Common")
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 October 2003

[Hindustan Steam Ship CO. Ltd. houseflag] by Rob Raeside

Hindustan Steam Ship Co. Ltd. Formed in 1893 by J.W. Squance & Co. who changed their name to Common Brothers Ltd. in 1906 following the retirement of Captain Squance. The flag is probably more correctly ascribed to Common Brothers although Hindustan Steamship Co. Ltd. was their main shipping arm in their days of shipowning which seems to have ended in the late 1970s. By then they were into ship management mainly as Common Brothers (Management) Ltd. and according to Loughran (1979) they flew their flag as a pennant [possibly the ordinary rectangular flag was also so used as Brown 1951 shows this in the case of the Australia-China Line and then shows the pennant in the 1958 edition] superior to that of the houseflag of the managed company, first as the plain quartered pennant but then with an amended version which saw the quarters placed diagonally and the company logo placed on the white in the hoist [see gb~c174a.gif attached]. Unfortunately there is no description of this. The company faded out of sight in Lloyds in the late 1980s after it was acquired by Norex Corporation before resuming briefly in the late 1990s.
Neale Rosanoski, 15 June 2004