CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3697
TitleP&O Scottish Ferries Ltd records
Date1810 - 2002
Extent28 archival boxes, 2 grey boxes, 40 volumes, 2 folders, 2 binders & 3 items (15 linear metres)
Creator NameAberdeen Leith and Clyde Shipping Company (1810 - 1875)
North of Scotland & Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company (1875 - 1953)
North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Shipping Company Ltd (1953 - 1975)
Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company Ltd (1821 - 1974)
Hain Steamship Company (1901 - 1965)
Hain-Nourse Ltd (1965 - 1978)
P&O Ferries Ltd (1978 - 1985)
P&O Scottish Ferries Ltd (1985 - current)
P&O Ltd (Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company) (1840 - current)
Administrative HistoryThese are the records of P&O Scottish Ferries Ltd and predecessors for the period 1810 - 2002. In 1810, the Leith and Clyde Shipping Company (est. 1790) merged with the Aberdeen, Dundee, Leith and Glasgow Shipping Company and took over the Aberdeen Leith, Clyde and Tay Shipping Company. Thereafter, the Leith and Clyde became the Aberdeen Leith and Clyde Shipping Company until 1875 - 1876. The Co. concentrated chiefly on the shipment of goods and passengers, and regular routes included Aberdeen to and from Orkney, Wick, Kirkwall, Inverness, Granton, Dundee, Leith, Glasgow (until c.1827), Liverpool (c.1818 - 1826) and Rotterdam. Ships employed by the Co. included sailing vessels; steamers (from 1821); packet-boats (travelling regularly between two ports); and smacks (light coaster or fishing vessels). In 1857, the Co. named one of its new vessels 'Prince Albert', after the Prince Consort. Around 1851 - 1852, the Co. faced competition from the local railway companies, when it was proposed that the Aberdeen Leith and Clyde Shipping Co. should stop its south trade and concentrate its services only in the north. Although negotiations failed, the railway companies also proposed that the Aberdeen Leith and Clyde Shipping Co. should begin working with the railways to provide services on routes between Aberdeen and the northern ports.

The Aberdeen Leith and Clyde Shipping Co. became The North of Scotland & Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company (also known as the 'North of Scotland' or 'North Company', based at Matthews' Quay, Aberdeen) in 1875 - 1876, and continued to maintain its regular routes. The Co. took over the Shetland Islands Steam Navigation Company, Lerwick, in 1890 and began providing services to other ports, including Lerwick and Scalloway, taking over the Pentland Firth mail service in 1882. Ship names included 'St Olaf', 'St Nicholas', 'John O' Groat', 'St Ola', 'St Sunniva' and 'St Rognvald'. Competition continued between the Shipping Co. and the local railway companies during the nineteenth century, particularly over ships' routes, cargo and freight rates. Also around this time, the North of Scotland emerged as one of the pioneers of 'modern-style cruising', offering summer tours to Norway, Caithness, Orkney and Shetland [See 1897 - 1973 brochures MS 3697/15/8]. The North of Scotland vessels and crew were heavily involved in the two world wars, mainly providing troop and equipment transport (eg. 'St Ninian' I), or acting as rescue ships (eg. 'St Sunniva' II), and many found themselves engaged with the enemy (eg. 'St Catherine'). The Co.'s name changed to the North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Company Ltd. (incorporated under the Companies Acts of 1908 - 1917) in 1953 - 1954. It subsequently became a subsidiary of Coast Lines in 1961.

The Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company Ltd. (est. 1821) concentrated mainly on carrying livestock, sundry goods and passengers from Aberdeen to ports, including Hull (until 1854) and London. The Co.'s passenger ships were sold in 1946 to the Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Company Ltd, which was part of the Coast Lines Group. As a consequence of declining trade, the Aberdeen Steam Navigation Co.'s sailings ended in 1962.

The Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Co. Ltd was formed in 1904 through the merging of the Tyne Steam Shipping Co. Ltd, the Tees Union Steamship Co. Ltd, The Free Trade Warf Co. Ltd and the coasting interests of Furness Withy & Co. Ltd. The Tyne-Tees Co. offered passenger services between Newcastle and London up until c.1930s. In 1943, the Co. coasters were bought by Coast Lines and the last Tyne-Tees ship sailed in 1976.

Coast Lines (est. 1913) was formed from the merger of three Liverpool coaster companies and became the largest of its kind in the world, mostly due to the fact that coastal trade was in decline during the early twentieth century. However, after the Second World War, Coast Lines itself began to decline as it failed to adopt vehicle ferries. Subsequently, a number of companies (including P&O in 1971) bought out Coast Lines.

The Hain Steamship Company (est. 1901) was an ocean tramp and shipbuilding company, formed by Edward Hain (1851 - 1917, from Cornwall) and the Readhead family of South Shields. Most of its trading was done in the Mediterranean. P&O emerged as one of Hain's main shareholders in 1917 and was a major and continuing influence over the Co. By the 1960s, general tramp shipping from Britain seemed less profitable and the Hain Co. was eventually amalgamated with the Nourse fleet (also part of P&O) into Hain-Nourse [Management] Ltd in 1964 - 1965.

James Nourse (1828 - 1897, from Dublin) formed the Nourse Line during the 1860s and the Co. became The Nourse Line Limited in 1903 - 1904, with Mr C.A. Hampton (d.1922) being its first chairman. The Line traded with a wide range of countries, including the West Indies. The P&O Steam Navigation Company eventually bought the Line's shares in 1955, marking the end of the Hampton family's involvement with the Co. In 1962, the Line took over the management of the Asiatic Steam Navigation Co. Ltd (part of the P&O Group), prior to the formation of Hain-Nourse Ltd. In 1971, Hain-Nourse Ltd was integrated into P&O's Bulk Shipping Division and the name Hain-Nourse was changed to P&O Ferries Ltd in 1978.

P&O Scottish Ferries Ltd, established during the 1970s - 1980s, presumably continued most of the sailings and trade, which the North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Co. Ltd & predecessor companies had previously undertaken, including the Pentland Firth route. In 2002, NorthLink Ferries took over P&O's routes to the North Isles.

The origins of P&O Ltd (Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company) date from the 1830s and the Co. was incorporated by a Royal Charter in 1840. Up until around the Second World War, P&O concentrated mainly on carrying mail, first by paddle-steamers and later by other steam ships. The Co. began carrying other cargo and passengers during the mid-nineteenth century and sailed ships to places such as the Iberian Peninsular (up until c.1862), Chile, Egypt, India, China (from c.1840s) and Australia (from c.1850s). It also sailed troop transports, hospital ships and cargo liners from c.1900s. By the 1920s, P&O was sailing black-hulled passenger, mail liners, coasters, colliers, Thames pleasure steamers, state-of-the-art refrigerated cargo liners, and passenger/cargo ships. The P&O fleet was also greatly involved in the two world wars, carrying troops, munitions, raw materials and foodstuffs. Between 1914 and c.1946, P&O took over other shipping companies, including the British India Steam Navigation Company, the New Zealand Shipping Company, the Hain Steamship Company and James Nourse. Growing competition from passenger airlines led in part to P&O's later diversification and greater concentration on leisurely sea travel. P&O continued to sail cargo ships after the Second World War and entered into the tanker trades between c.1960s - 1980s. During the 1960s - 1970s, P&O began to operate 'roll-on, roll-off' ferries [the first being 'St Ola' III) and in 1971, the Group was reorganised into the following divisions: Bulk Shipping, General Cargo, Passenger, European & Air Transport, and General Holdings. P&O made investments in other fields during the 1990s, including an Energy Division involved in North Sea oil exploration and US oil production. P&O continued to expand its shipping at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries, through company expansions and mergers.

For further information on the history and vessels of the North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland Shipping Company Ltd, see the assorted correspondence and cuttings at MS 3697/15/9.
For postcards and further information on the shipping companies, including Coast Lines and P&O, see Ian Boyle/Simplon Postcards, (2006).
For information on the 'North Company' and P&O, see Ships of Cal Mac, (2006).
For information on the Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company Ltd., see Graeme Somner, 'Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company Ltd., The', (2006).
For a short history of the Hain Steamship Company Ltd., see the webpage (2006).
For information on James Nourse and the Nourse Line Limited, see 'Nourse Line', (2006).
For a history of P&O, see 'A brief history of P&O',,212168&_dad=pogprtl&_schema=POGPRTL (2006).
Custodial HistoryThe bulk of the collection was deposited in Special Libraries & Archives from P&O History and Archives, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, in November 2002. Thereafter, accession No. 017 was deposited from Greenwich on 3 October 2003; accession No. 055 on 7 April 2004; and accession No. 100 on 3 February 2005.
SourceThe records entered the archives in four different deposits during the period 2002 - 2005.
DescriptionThe collection comprises business records of P&O Scottish Ferries Ltd and its predecessors: Aberdeen Leith and Clyde Shipping Company; North of Scotland & Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company; and North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Shipping Company Ltd; and papers relating to P&O subsidiaries and other companies, including Aberdeen Steam Navigation Co., Hain-Nourse Ltd. and W. Cooper and Son (Kirkwall). The records consist of: an incomplete set of minute books for Aberdeen Leith and Clyde Shipping Co., North of Scotland and Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Co., Aberdeen Steam Navigation Co., North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland Shipping Co., Hain Steamship Co., Hain-Nourse and P&O Ferries (1810 - 1985);

two draft minute books for North of Scotland and Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Co. (1878 - 1900);
agenda books for North of Scotland and Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Co. and Aberdeen Steam Navigation Co. (1916 - 1974);
statutory and shareholding material for North of Scotland and Aberdeen Steam Navigation Cos. (c.1875 - 1974);
ledgers and journals for North of Scotland (1956 - 1972);
accounts and other related papers for North of Scotland and Aberdeen Steam Navigation Cos. (1877 - 1989);
material regarding statistics, planning and reports for North of Scotland and P&O Ferries (1961 - 1997);
legal and insurance records for North of Scotland (c.1960 - 1964);
Aberdeen Leith and Clyde letterbook (1813 - 1820);
general papers relating to ships and vessels of North of Scotland and P&O Scottish Ferries (c.1902 - 1999);
personnel records of North of Scotland employees (1912 - c.1944);
and Company ticket books (1895 - 1978); press cuttings books (1873 - 1951); advertising and publicity material (c.1880s - 2002).
AppraisalAppraisal was carried out by the P&O Archivist during the survey and removal of records from the P&O Ltd office premises at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
AccrualsNone expected.
ArrangementRecords have been arranged by series and chronologically therein.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
Physical DescriptionNo physical conditions affecting use of collection.
Related MaterialP&O History and Archives, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

St Sunniva Norway cruise: photographic album: 1895 (MS 3880).
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