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British shipping companies (B)

Last modified: 2005-03-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: bristol steam navigation | bristol city line | bsnco | british & commonwealth shipping | british & continental | bcsc | british channel islands shipping | british india steam navigation | british tanker company | btc | b |
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Bristol City Line of Steamships Ltd.

[Bristol City Line of Steamships Ltd houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of Bristol City Line of Steamships Ltd, Bristol. A swallow-tailed white burgee with a five-pointed blue star in the centre. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached.

Bristol City Line was part of a company with shipping, shipbuilding and ship repairing interests that started in the 18th century. The founder Charles Hill, took over the Hilhouse business from his partner, George Hilhouse in 1845 and changed the name to Messrs. Charles Hill & Sons. The Bristol City Line, began in 1879, running steamships to New York in competition with the Great Western Steamship Line. In contrast to its rival, the Bristol City Line carried cargo rather than passengers and was based in Bristol docks rather than at Avonmouth. Following the closure of the floating harbour at Bristol by Bristol City Council in 1980, shipbuilding ended in Albion Dock and Charles Hill of Bristol PLC was taken over in 1981."
Jarig Bakker, 5 August 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 & African Steam Navigation Society, Limited

[British & African Steam Navigation Society, Limited houseflag] by Jarig Bakker

Source: Brown's Flags and Funnels [Wedge 1926]

British & African Steam Navigation Society, Limited (Elder Dempster), Liverpool - blue swallowtail, over all white cross.
Jarig Bakker, 24 January 2005


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.
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 and Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd. houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of British and Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd, London. A blue rectangular flag with a white- ordered red saltire and a white diamond bearing a red lion in the centre. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn with the lion printed. A rope and toggle is attached."
Jarig Bakker, 5 August 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

Commodore's broad pennant

[British India Steam Navigation Company houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "Commodore's broad pennant, British India Steam Navigation Company, London. A white burgee bearing a red saltire and a red ball at the hoist. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and two Inglefield clips is attached.

The company was set up in 1856 by a Scottish firm of general merchants, Mackinnon, Mackenzie & Co., as the Calcutta and Burmah Steam Navigation Company to run a mail service between Rangoon and Calcutta. A new company was founded called the British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd in 1862 to run services from Calcutta and Bombay to Indian Ocean ports, using local coal and with a subsidy from the government of Bombay. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, BI began direct services between India and the UK, their routes eventually extending to East Africa, the Far East and Australasia.

BI ships were used for trooping in most conflicts until the British Government changed over to air transport in 1960. In 1893, the original company chairman Sir William Mackinnon died. In 1914 BI amalgamated with P&O. The company suffered a loss of business as a result of Indian independence in 1947. It lost its separate identity with the reorganisation of P&O in 1971.
Jarig Bakker, 5 August 2004


British Tanker Company / British Petroleum Tanker Company

[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 Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of the British Petroleum Tanker Co. Ltd. On a white field, there is a red St George's cross with a green diamond in the centre, bearing a red lion, rampant. This design was in use from 1955 to 1968 and was re-introduced in 1984. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. The lion is printed. A rope and two Inglefield clips is attached.

British Petroleum was formed as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909 to exploit oil deposits in Persia. The British Tanker Co. Ltd started in 1915 to handle sea transport and achieve a contained, integrated oil company. The parent group was renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1935. In 1951 the company's Iranian assets were nationalized, a crisis partly resolved by negotiation in 1954 when the company was re-named British Petroleum. During the 1970s BP extended its oil interests to the North Sea and Alaska and is now a very large multinational group."
Jarig Bakker, 7 August 2004

[British Tanker Company houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

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 house flag the triband with BTC. ... The first house flag and funnel marking was in use until 1926, when a most distinctive set of marking replaced them. A house flag 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 house flag 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


British Waterways Board

[British Waterways Board houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of the British Waterways Board. A blue rectangular flag with a yellow paddle wheel motif in the centre. There are two narrow yellow lines across the top and bottom edges. This design was changed in about 1970 to a wave motif. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting with a linen hoist. It is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached.
Jarig Bakker, 7 August 2004

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