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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/123-33
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1899-1968
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 140 production units.
Name of creator(s): India General Navigation and Railway Co Ltd


Administrative/Biographical history:

India General Steam Navigation Company was established in India in 1844 to compete with the steamers of the Indian government on the Ganges, later turning its attention to Assam, where the tea industry was developing and in need of improved communications.

From the 1870s onwards, the company faced much competition from Rivers Steam Navigation Company Limited (CLC/B/123-47), as a result of which various working agreements between the two companies were reached in the 1880s. As a result of one such agreement, made in 1889, the two companies came generally to be known as the Joint steamer companies, operating many joint services but maintaining separate management.

In 1899, India General went into liquidation, partly in order to raise more capital, and partly in order to register in London. The new company was named India General Navigation and Railway Company Limited (so called because a few years earlier India General had undertaken the construction of an extension of a railway to the banks of the Brahmaputra at Jaganathganj).

During both world wars, vessels of the Joint steamer companies were impresssed for military use in India, and also in Iraq during the First World War. After the Second World War the partition of India caused difficulties in the transport of commodities from Assam to Calcutta for export, as they had to pass through Pakistan as well as India. As a result, the fleets of the Joint companies were divided and separate repair workshops set up to service the Pakistani fleet (in addition to those set up by India General in the 1880s at Raja Bagan).

In 1959, Pakistan River Steamers Limited was formed to manage the Pakistani fleets of the Joint companies, as the government of Pakistan would not Company-operate except with a company incorporated in Pakistan (for further details of PRS Limited see the introductory note to Rivers Steam Navigation Company Limited.)

In 1962 a strike by crews in Pakistan nearly brought about the collapse of India General, but Rivers Steam Navigation Company Limited bought out its Indian assets and liabilities, India General retaining its Pakistani interests. India General was managed in India by Kilburn and Company and in London by Kilburn, Brown and Company. (The Inchcape group archives include some records of Kilburn, Brown and Company, CLC/B/123-37).

India General had London offices successively in St. Helen's Place, New Broad Street and Mincing Lane.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the India General Navigation and Railway Company Limited, including articles of association; papers relating to annual general meetings; notices to shareholders; financial accounts; fleet lists; papers regarding ship repairs; and photograph of steamer 'Nagpore'.

CLC/B/123/MS38763 (staff list) is subject to a 70 year closure period.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Access by appointment only. Please contact staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The surviving records date only from 1899, the date at which the company was registered in London. They were deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library in 1987-88 by Inchcape Plc together with those of other companies in the Inchcape Group. They were catalogued in 1988-9. Ms 38763 was presented to Guildhall Library in November 2007. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

This collection is a sub-fond within the Inchcape Group fonds. See CLC/B/123 for a list of all the companies represented in this collection and a history of the Inchcape Group.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

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:
January to May 2011.

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