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British shipping companies (B)

Last modified: 2021-05-29 by rob raeside
Keywords: bsl | hb&s | b | bcsn | bk&co | bc | bm | boc |
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B.T. (Marine) Ltd.

[B.T. (Marine) Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 25 December 2005

B.T. (Marine) Ltd., Southampton - per white fly diagonal blue over red flag.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker
, 25 December 2005

Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd.

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 15 October 2003

Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd., (British and Colonial Line) had its seat in London, with ships able to transport passengers first class from London to Madeira, Las Palmas, Teneriffa, Kaapstad, Algoabay and Natal.
Source: Brockhaus' Konversations-Lexikon, 14th ed (c. 1907)
Jarig Bakker, 15 October 2003

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 23 April 2021

"Flags and Funnels of the British and Commonwealth Merchant Fleets" shows this flag with sans-serif letters.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 16 June 2006

Bucknall Steamships Lines, Ltd. was acquired by the Ellerman Group as Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co.

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] image by Rob Raeside

Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd. Originated 1850 with Henry Bucknall & Sons who used a plain red flag with the white letters "H.B&S" according to Reed 11891 though Loughran (1979) shows dots also after the "B" and "S". In 1890 the company split into Bucknall Nephews & Co. (manufacturing interests) and Bucknall Brothers (shipping interests).

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] image by Rob Raeside

The former remained in shipowning until 1910 and used a white flag with a widish red border and red "B" whilst the latter formed the British & Colonial Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.

[Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. houseflag] image by Rob Raeside

The British & Colonial Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. flag was blue with 4 white diamonds dividing the field bearing the red letters "BCSN", this company being reformed in 1900 as Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd. with the flag as shown here. After being acquired by Ellerman Lines in 1908 it changed its name in 1914 to Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. Ltd.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004

Ellerman & Bucknal (Steamships) Co Ltd began in 1740 as Henry Bucknall & Sons, shipowners, London, who traded in cork from Portugal. During the 1850s, the company decided to purchase a fleet of sailing ships with the primary objective of transporting their own merchandise. In 1868, the firm began to replace their sailing ships with steamers but still restricted their activities to trading between the United Kingdom and Portugal. In 1888 , the firm of Bucknall Brothers, shipbrokers, was established and in 1890 Bucknall Nephews was established to take over the ships of the parent firm, Henry Bucknall & Co.

The development of gold and diamond mining in South Africa led the company, along with a contract with the Netherlands South African Railway, to inaugurate a regular service to South Africa in 1892. To undertake this service, the British & Colonial Steam Navigation Co was formed by Bucknall Nephews in 1891 with a fleet of 9 steamersand a passenger service being added in 1895. Various contracts to transport livestock and goods to South Africa were secured although goods for the return journey were scarce. As a result, the ships would often cross from South Africa to Burma to carry rice or undertake charter services to Australia. Sometimes the ships would call at the Canary Islands to collect ballast of fruit, potatoes and tomatoes. In 1893, a service carrying mules from New York to Cape Town, for the Cape Town Tramway system was started and later extended to India with a full service being inaugurated in 1898, loading for Canada as well on the return journey.

In 1900, Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd was incorporated to acquire the business of the British & Colonial Steam Navigation Co. The company struggled in its early days due to the price it had to pay for the assets it acquired and also due to a slump in business following the Transvaal War in South Africa. It gradually recovered and services were developed to the Malay Straights, China, the Philippines and Japan; from Australia to England; also between North America and South and East Africa; the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, India, Java, Malaya, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
In 1908, the Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd found themselves in difficulty again though overbuilding and it was arranged that the company should be acquired by Ellerman Lines Ltd, shipowners, London, Scotland. In the early days of the company the ships bore names distinctly redolent of South Africa and China, but with the construction of new tonnage these names lapsed and the "City" system of nomenclature used by the Ellerman group of companies including the City, Hall and Bucknall fleets was adopted. In 1912, the company's passenger services were taken over by the Hall and City Lines and in 1914, the company was renamed Ellerman & Bucknall (Steamships) Co Ltd.
Jisc Archives Hub

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of the Bucknall Steamship Lines, Ltd. (#374, p. 54) as blue with three lozenges inscribing the red letters "B", "S", and "L", respectively.
Ivan Sache, 23 April 2021

Bulk Oil Steamship Co. Ltd

[Bulk Oil Steamship co. Ltd houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

Flag horizontally divided white-pink-white.
Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

Bulk Oil Steamship Co. Ltd. Formed in 1921 by James W. Cook & Co. Ltd. with Talbot-Booth showing under that name. The colour is mauve and is said to be based on the colours of the Victoria Cross which was won by the founder in WW1. Not an easy colour for sources to portray so colours do vary between brown and blue in several cases. The ships were acquired by William Cory & Son in 1958 and although the company appear to have continued initially, by the mid 1960s they were absorbed into the Cory fleet.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004

Bullard, King & Co.

(Natal Line)

[Bullard, King & Co. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of Bullard King and Co., London. A red rectangular flag with a narrow white cross. In the  centre, there is a white label with the red initials 'BK & Co'. 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."
Jarig Bakker, 7 August 2004

Founded 1850 and purchased in 1919 by Union Castle.
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

The British & Commonwealth Shipping Co.'s burgee is flown superior to House flag.
Jarig Bakker, 19 October 2003

Bullard, King & Co. Operated as the Natal Line, Natal Line of Steamers and/or Natal Direct Line. In 1960 its fleet was absorbed into the Springbok Line. Most sources show a dot under the "o".
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004

Bullard King and Company was founded in 1850 with a fleet of small sailing ships trading from the Thames to the Mediterranean. In 1879 they introduced the Natal Direct Line to carry passengers directly to Durban (in those days also known as Port Natal) with their first steamer, SS ‘Pongola’. Routes were later added to other East African ports and to Mauritius. In 1889 they commenced sailings from India to South Africa to carry field labourers for sugar plantations. The company’s fleet was added to in the early 1900s with the launch of ‘Umsinga’, ‘Umvolosi’, ‘Umzumbi’ and ‘Umhlali’. About this time the ships were painted white but this soon gave way to a light grey hull which persisted until the company's demise in the 1960s. The buff, black-topped funnel with a central encircling chocolate band was the company's trademark throughout. In 1911 immigration from India was stopped and in 1919 Bullard King & Company was taken over by the Union Castle Line, although it kept its independent identity and colours. Their last ships were merged into the Springbok Line in 1960.

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows a similar house flag (#1557, p. 111), with a right-angled rectangle and a dot under the "o".
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Burdick & Cook

[Burdick & Cook houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Burdick & Cook, London; blue, over all a white diamond, charged with red "BC".
Jarig Bakker, 13 December 2004

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the same house flag (#12, p. 37).
Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Henry Burdon Jun. & Co.

[Burdick & Cook houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Henry Burdon Jun. & Co.(#10, p. 37), a Poole-based company, as swallow-tailed, horizontally divided blue-white-blue, charged in the center with a blue "B".
Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Buries Markes Ltd

[Buries Markes Ltd houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker after Brown (1951)

White with a blue border. In the centre is a red diamond containing some kind of plant. Above the diamond and to the hoist is a letter B, below and to the fly is a letter M (both letters black?)  Source: Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 19 October 2003

Founded 1930, acquired by Louis Dreyfus in 1938.
Phil Nelson, 19 October 2003

Lloyd's description: White edged blue; gold ear of corn on red diamond and BM in red.
Jarig Bakker, 19 October 2003

Burmah Oil Co., Ltd (Tankers)

[Burmah Oil Co., Ltd (Tankers) houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker

Red, white and blue diagonal tricolor; white B, black O, white C. Source: All about Ships & Shipping, 1938
Jarig Bakker, 20 October 2003

A very prominent company in the British oil business. When the first commercial oil discovery was made in the Middle East in 1908, Burmah provided 97% of the funding for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later British Petroleum).
Phil Nelson, 20 October 2003

The same house flag is shown (#1783, p. 121) in Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912).
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

[Burmah Oil Co., Ltd (Tankers) houseflag] image by Rob Raeside

Burmah Oil Co. Ltd. (Tankers). They later adopted a white flag bearing what was, I understand, the petrol-pump sign of a triband panel of red-white-blue, the top and bottom edges being pointed and the white band bearing the black legend "Burmah". These days their only shipping involvement appears to be a joint venture with Shell in the 104T tanker "Lady Myrtle" based Mumbai, India.
Neale Rosanoski
, 22 March 2004

Burnett Steamship Co., Ltd.

[Burnett Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 29 February 2004

The Burnett Steamship Company was Formed in 1889 with the purchase of a small steamer, the company rapidly expanded and concentrated initially on the coal trade to London and the near continent. By 1908 their ships increased in size and routes expanded to cover the Baltic and Mediterranean. Seven ships were lost to enemy action during the Great War and by 1918 the fleet consisted of five colliers plus three managed vessels.
In 1929 Burnetts entered the world wide tramping business with the delivery of 4,000 ton ships but the shipping slump caused these ships to be quickly sold. Four ships were lost in World War 2.
In the 1960s the company was employed in the St Lawrence and Great Lakes trade. An offer for the company from Federal Commerce & Navigation Ltd of Canada was accepted in 1969 and the Newcastle company became a subsidiary of the FEDNAV group engaged in UK to Canada trading. In 1974 Burnett purchased Chapman & Willan Ltd, Newcastle and their fleet of bulk carriers. FEDNAV sold the last Burnett ship in 1980 which ended the Burnett involvement in shipowning.
Mariners L

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Burnett Steamship Co., Ltd. (#1057, p. 87), a Newcastle-based company, as horizontally divided black-yellow-black.

[Burnett Steamship Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 28 April 2021

Burnett Steamship Co. Ltd. Talbot-Booth shows a vertical triband but he is the only source to do so.
Neale Rosanoski, 22 March 2004

Burns & Laird Lines

G. & J. Burns, Ltd.

[Burns & Laird Lines houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of Burns and Laird Lines Ltd, Glasgow. A blue rectangular flag bearing a gold lion rampant, crowned holding a globe. Originally the house flag of G. & J. Burns Ltd, the similarity to the Cunard house flag reflects George Burns' early association with Samuel Cunard. The company livery and house flag went out of use in 1976. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. The details on the lion are printed. A rope and toggle is attached.

Burns and Laird Lines Ltd was an amalgamation of two old-established Glasgow companies that had pioneered steam services between Scotland and Ireland. George Burns had been involved in the development of steam shipping around the British coast; his brother James remained a provision merchant. Their company was known as G. & J. Burns from 1842. Alexander Laird was a shipbroker working with various steam packet companies running from Greenock. From 1868 Alexander A. Laird & Co. became sole agents for the Glasgow and Londonderry Steam Packet Company. This became the Glasgow, Dublin and Londonderry Steam Packet Company Ltd in 1885 also known as the Laird Line, a name formally adopted in 1906.

Laird Lines joined Coast Lines Group in 1919 followed shortly afterwards by G. & J. Burns Ltd on the death of the founder's son John Burns. The company name, the Burns & Laird Line was adopted in 1922. The company livery combined the Burns house flag with Laird's funnel. The Coast Lines Group succumbed to competition from road transport during the 1960s and was taken over by P&O in 1971. Coast Lines two Irish Sea services were amalgamated under the name Belfast Steamship Co. Ltd. The last vestige of Burns and Laird disappeared in 1976."
Jarig Bakker, 8 August 2004

"Flags and Funnels of the British and Commonwealth Merchant Fleets" shows a more upright lion, like Cunard's.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 June 2006

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the same house flag (#202, p. 46) for G. & J. Burns, Ltd..
Ivan Sache, 22 April 2021

Henry Burrell

[Henry Burrell houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 24 April 2021

Henry Burrell (1866-1924) was one of the nine children of William and Isabella Burrell, and a brother of Sir William Burrell, ship owner and art collector.
Between 1900 and 1907 he successfully submitted seven patents, all of which dealt with aspects of ship building. When submitting his patent applications he described himself as a ship owner.
From 1910-1911 he was listed as manager of the Straight Back Steamship Company.
Glasgow's Benefactors, 12 November 2017

The Glasgow tramp shipping firm of Burrell & Son was well known for its ambitious approach to the trade. Henry Burrell (1866–1924), younger brother and junior partner in the firm, fell foul of his older brothers George and William and attempted to establish an independent business as a ship designer and shipowner. He developed an innovative new design of bulk carrier known as the straightback steamship. The Ben Earn of 1909 was not far removed from the bulkers that became dominant in post Second World War maritime trade. Henry Burrell created the prototype, but it took people with far greater capital and business skill to realize its true potential.
M. Bellamy. 2019. Sibling rivalry, shipping innovation and litigation: Henry Burrell and the ‘Straightback Steamship’. The International Journal of Maritime History 31, 98-119

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Henry Burrell (#433, p. 57) as white with a red device in the center.
Ivan Sache, 24 April 2021

Burrell & Son

[Burrell & Son houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker

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

Burrell & Son, Glasgow - blue swallowtail, white disk with red Maltese cross.
Jarig Bakker
, 31 January 2005

Burrell & Son. Operated ships 1866-1921 with most sources for this period (Reed, Griffin and Lloyds) showing the flag as a tapered swallowtail. The only support for Wedge is the 1909 Liverpool Journal of Commerce sheet.
Neale Rosanoski
, 19 May 2005

[Burrell & Son houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 22 April 2021

The Burrell family was of Northumbrian origin, and grandfather George Burrell moved to Glasgow in the early 1830s. By 1856-1857 George was established as a shipping and forwarding agent at Port Dundas, the Glasgow terminus of the Forth and Clyde Canal. In the following year he was joined by his son (Sir William's father), and henceforward the firm traded under the name of Burrell and Son. Initially its shipowning was confined to vessels small enough to transit the Canal, but in 1866 it took a half-share in an ocean-going steamer and by 1875 a further six steamers had been built for them. Two bore the prefix "Strath," which continued to be used by Burrell and Son throughout the firm's existence.

In 1876, the future 'Sir William' entered the firm at the age of 15, and on his father's death in 1885 he and his eldest brother George took over the management. Burrell and Son was already prospering, but under their shrewd direction it reached a position of international standing in worldwide tramping and in ship management.
The Burrell brothers undoubtedly had the Midas touch. George kept abreast of developments in marine engineering while William specialized in the commercial side. Their fortunes were based on a steady nerve, foresight and breathtaking boldness. The formula was quite simple. In times of depression they would order a large number of ships at rock-bottom prices, calculating that the vessels would be coming off the stocks when the slump was reaching an end. Burrell and Son was then in a position to attract cargoes because it had ships available and could undercut its rivals. Then, after several years of highly profitable trading, the brothers would sell the fleet in a boom period and lie low until the next slump occurred, at which point the cycle would begin again. It sounds easy, and Burrell himself described it as making money like slate-stones, but none of the firms' competitors was bold enough to take such risks.

The operation was repeated twice on a large scale. In 1893-1894 twelve new ships were built for the fleet of Burrell and Son at a time when the industry was in a very depressed state. A few years later, advantage was taken of the current high prices obtainable for shipping and every vessel flying the Burrell house flag was sold.
After going into semi-retirement for several years, in 1905, William and George rocked the shipping world by ordering no fewer than twenty steamers; a further eight were delivered in 1909-1910. After a few years of prosperous trading the brothers once again decided to capitalize on the rise in the market value of ships, a rise which became dramatic after the outbreak of the First World War.
Between 1913 and 1916 almost the entire fleet was sold, including vessels which were still on the stocks. With his share of the proceeds shrewdly invested, William Burrell devoted remainder of his long life to what became an all-consuming passion, the amassing of a vast art collection.
The Ships lists

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Burrell & Son (#233, p. 48) as tapered swallow-tailed, blue with a white disc inscribing a red cross patty.
Ivan Sache, 22 April 2021

British Shipping lines: continued