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Coast Lines Ltd

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0064 CST
Held at: National Maritime Museum
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Full title: Coast Lines Ltd
Date(s): [1836-1969]
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 30ft: 910cm
Name of creator(s): Coast Lines Ltd


Administrative/Biographical history:

Coast Lines Ltd of Liverpool was formed by the merging of three lines in 1913 and until 1917 was known by their joint names, Powell, Bacon and Hough. The name of Coast Lines Limited was adopted in 1917, when the company was absorbed into the Royal Mail Group (q.v.). After the dissolution of the group in 1931, the company became independent under the chairmanship of Sir Alfred Read (1871-1955), who had previously been a director. From 1917 to 1951 Coast Lines acquired a controlling interest in a large number of coastal shipping companies, eventually numbering about twenty, of which the most important were: the British and Irish Steam Packet Company Ltd, acquired in 1917; City of Cork Steam Packet Company Limited, acquired in 1918; the Belfast Steamship Company Limited, acquired 1919; Burns and Laird Lines, acquired 1920 and 1919; and Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company Limited, acquired in 1943. Some idea of the extent of the Company's activities, spanning the whole of the British and Irish seaboard and extending to the Scottish and Channel Islands, can be gained from the fact that during 1951, with a fleet of 109 ships, the total of cargo carried was in excess of four million tons, and of livestock more than half a million head, while over a million passengers were also carried. This period saw the high water mark of the British, as distinct from the cross-channel, internal freight and passenger trades. The British and Irish Steam Packet Company Limited was sold to the Irish Government in 1965, together with its subsidiary, the City of Cork Steam Packet Company. The last stage of the streamlining of the Coast Lines Limited and its associates took place when the company was acquired, in 1971, by the P and 0 Group. See E.R. Reader, 'The world's largest coaster fleet', Sea Breezes, February 1949.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Coast Lines Ltd. They include: seven minute books of the Board and General Meetings of the parent company, 1913 to 1969. There is less information on the associated companies, although there are minutes of the General Meetings of the Belfast Steamship Company Limited, 1852 to 1943. Miscellaneous early documents include the Deed of Constitution of 1836 for the City of Cork Steam Packet Company Limited, and an agreement of 1837 between the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company and the City of Dublin and British and Irish Steam Packet companies, to the effect that the two Irish companies should not trade on overseas routes covered by the English Company. The financial records consist of: four ledgers of the Queenship Navigation Company Limited, 1899 to 1925; published accounts and balance sheets, mostly for the 1950s; a series of vessels' pro forma voyage accounts for eight companies of the group, 1965 to 1966, with a consolidated summary, traffic returns and trade figures for the main associated companies, 1955 to 1964; conference minutes and freight rates, 1871 to 1934, give an insight into the structure and operations of the Irish and English, Scottish and Irish and Belfast trades. The associate companies reported to the parent company weekly, in letter form, giving the position of their vessels and other information. Letters of this type in the collection cover the period 1955 to 1964. Otherwise there are only a few isolated letters and no letterbooks. The greater part of the collection consists of publicity material, brochures and advertisements: a large number of photographs, of ships, staff, wharves and warehouses; and draft histories of the companies making up the Group. The records of the following Coast Line associates are to he found elsewhere: the Ayr Steamship Company Ltd, the Burns and Laird Lines, and William Sloan and Company Limited at the Strathclyde Regional Archives; the Tyne Tees Steam Shipping Company Limited records at the Tyne and Wear Archives Department.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The records were deposited on permanent loan by P&0 in instalments from 1973.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Edited by Sarah Drewery, Jun 2011.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:

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