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British shipping companies (E)

Last modified: 2021-05-29 by rob raeside
Keywords: shipping lines |
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Ellerman Lines, Ltd.

[Ellerman Group pennant] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)

Stewart & Styring (1963) shows this as a common pennant used for Ellerman, but the Ellerman & Papayanni Line flag (a blue pennant flying under the pennant) has the lettering "P & Co". Helvetica with the 'o' half the size of the C and aligned with the top of the "C", lettering in white, extending ~2/3 the length of the fly.
Ellerman and Papayanni - Formed in 1855, Papayanni Brothers joined the Ellerman Group in 1901 and became Ellerman & Papayanni Line.
Phil Nelson
, 12 October 2003

After 1973 all constituent Ellerman companies were combined into Ellerman City Liners which in 1987 became Cunard-Ellerman.
Phil Nelson, 12 October 2003

Referred to as  Ellerman Line, Liverpool, in Larousse Commercial Illustré (1930). Larousse Commercial Illustré (1930) also shows Ellerman Lines City Line Ltd., Glasgow: a small(er drawn) red flag with white letters (no serifs) SS. Letters about one half of flag height. An elongated pennant of the Ellerman Line above, and by one fourth longer than, this flag. The pennant's height is half the flag's.
Jan Mertens, 16 May 2004

Ellermans Group. The variety shown by sources as to the proportions of the various flags of the Group is large. The only accurate measurements available appear to be those from the National Maritime Museum which detail the combinations for Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. Ltd., Ellerman & Papayanni Lines Ltd. and Ellerman's Wilson Line Ltd.

The plain blue pennant bearing the white "JRE" is that of Ellerman Lines Ltd. but Sampson along with Talbot-Booth 1936-1944, Brown 1943-1951 and Harnack 1938-1949 show it for Ellerman & Papayanni. Although the two are shown as separate companies based London and Liverpool respectively it seems that most of the fleet may have been based under the latter and perhaps they were inclined to usually fly just the single flag of the group whereas other taken over companies with their own fleets had more reason to want to display their origin. By itself this pennant may have been more triangular in the ratio of 2:3 which sources show or it may have been longer in line with the pennants shown above the original houseflags of the various group members.
Neale Rosanoski
, 31 May 2005

The first John Ellerman (1862-1933) was a shipowner and financier, and probably the most successful businessman of his time. Having started his working life as an accountant, he succeeded in building up a shipping empire from almost nothing. Between 1890 and the Great War he bought numerous shipping companies, mostly old-established and respected names, and rapidly expanded his business as the 'Ellerman Lines'.
During the Boer War he provided ships to the British government, for which he was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1905. By 1914 he owned more shipping tonnage than the entire French merchant navy. He was also a significant entrepreneur in many other fields, including newspapers, brewing and property. After the 1914-18 War his empire continued to grow and, in 1921, he was made, unusually for a businessman, a Companion of Honour.
By the time of his death, in 1933, he had accumulated a prodigious fortune from an extraordinary entrepreneurial career. His entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes him as 'certainly the greatest tour de force in British business history'.
His son, the philanthropist John Ellerman (1910-1973) inherited the major part of his father's fortune, and his baronetcy, at the age of 23. Having read for the bar, he later joined his father's shipping business.
John Ellerman Foundation

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the same house flag (#1492, p. 108).
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Ellerman Lines, Ltd.
(Papayanni Line)

[Ellerman Group pennant]image by Rob Raeside

As stated by Phil, Ellerman & Papayanni officially flew another blue pennant below bearing the white letters "P&Co". As given by the National Maritime Museum the upper pennant was 711mm x 1803 whilst the lower pennant was 1143 mm x 1905 mm. Sources all seem show a normal display of letters for the old Papayanni flag but that of the NMM has the lower case letters enhanced. Talbot-Booth in 1949 states that the flag was a blue rectangle with a white "P" but this is unsupported.

The Ellerman Lines City Line Ltd. referred to by Jan continued to be known as the City Line Ltd. after Ellermans took a 50% holding in 1901. Others to retain their name according to Lloyds were the Hall Line Ltd. and Westcott Laurence Lines Ltd. with all three using the format of flying the Ellerman pennant superior.
Neale Rosanoski
, 31 May 2005

[Ellerman Group pennant]by Ivan Sache, 4 December 2005

This cigarette card shows an image of the flag (from
Jan Mertens, 1 August 2005

In 1832 Georges Michael Papayanni, a Greek merchant settled in London as an importer of dried fruit. His brother, Basilio, remained in Piraeus as agent until joining him 20 years later to build up the ship owning side. During 1844 Papayanni moved to Liverpool to develop trade with North America, importing cotton and grain until interrupted by the American Civil War. Substitute cargoes were found in Egypt and the Black Sea with manufactured goods carried outward bound. In 1850 Pierre Mussabini, a Turkey Merchant joined Papayanni in a venture incorporating both their names. Early cargoes were carried by Greek owner captains until sail began to give way to steam in 1855. On Mussabini’s retirement the company became Papayanni & Company and on Georges Michael’s own retirement in 1870 the management passed to his son Michael Georges, with Papayanni senior retaining control of finance. From 1870 onwards all new ships were steam powered, the first two being built in 1877 and the last almost a hundred years later. On Basilio Papayanni’s death in 1897, the company became incorporated as the Papayanni Steamship Company Limited, with Basilio junior at the head. Following distribution of shares to the family, little capital remained for renewal of ships or expansion.
Negotiations between Nicholas Papayanni and John Reeves Ellerman resulted in Ellerman purchasing the company in 1901, with the ships becoming owned by Ellerman Lines Limited the following year. In 1906 the Ellerman & Papayanni Company Limited was formed, with members of the Papayanni family retained as Managers. It continued to operate as a separate entity until 1932, and was merged with the other Ellerman shipping lines into Ellerman’s City Line in 1973. It acquired the Mossgiel Steam Ship Company, Glasgow in 1958.

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the same house flag (#1493, p. 108).
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co.

[Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. houseflag] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 12 October 2003

Blue Pennant with JRE in white over a blue flag with red E&B in three white diamonds (the Bucknell Line had the same flag with red BSL in three white diamonds).
Jarig Bakker, 12 October 2003

Ellerman & Bucknall (Steamships) Co Ltd; (established in 1740 as Henry Bucknall & Sons, name changed to Henry Bucknall & Co by 1880, Bucknall Nephews established 1890s, incorporated as Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd in 1900, name changed as given in 1914).
Phil Nelson, 12 October 2003

[Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. commodore flag]image by Rob Raeside

Ellerman & Bucknall Steamship Co. The fleet commodore swallowtailed both their flag and the Ellerman pennant [see E62 attached] with the proportions presumably being in line with those given for the houseflags by the NMM at 660mm x 1752 for the pennant and 1143mm x 1778 for the flag.
Neale Rosanoski
, 31 May 2005

Ellerman's Wilson Line

[Ellerman's Wilson Line houseflag] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 12 October 2003

Founded in the early years of the nineteenth century, the Wilson Line became the largest privately owned steamship fleet in the world. Based in Hull, its main trade was to and from Scandinavia and the Baltic States although the Wilson Line also carried cargoes to the USA, the Mediterranean and India. Emigrants were an important part of the company's business. Large numbers of Norwegians, Swedes and Jewish refugees of the Tsarist pogroms were brought into Hull, transported overland to Liverpool and shipped to America. In the 1890s Wilson Line ships carried more cargo to the USA than the ships of any other line.

By 1919, losses from the fleet were such that the line was put up for sale. Bought by Ellerman, the name changed slightly but the old ways continued. Ellerman's Wilson Line remained independent of the rest of the Ellerman empire. Rebuilding the fleet was a priority but trading conditions were difficult - with too many ships chasing the available cargo. The Second World War saw a reduction in fleet size from thirty-five to just nine and another rebuilding programme got under way in 1945. The once-lucrative American trade ceased in 1961 and the Wilson Line began the use of roll-on, roll-off ferries for its Gothenburg service in 1966.

In 1983, then entire Ellerman Group was put up for sale. By 1987, the company was in the hands of Trafalgar House and called Cunard-Ellerman. In 1991 P&O purchased the Ellerman Group container business and sold the remaining four ships. Every trace of Wilsons, once the largest independent steamship company in the world, had now vanished.
Phil Nelson, 13 October 2003

There is a difference between the burgee used as the houseflag of Ellerman & Papayanni Lines and the pennants used on top of the houseflags of the other Ellerman companies:
a. the houseflag of Ellerman & Papayanni Lines is as you sent it (216x324)
b. the pennants: 108x360 (approximately)
The new houseflag of Ellerman & Papayanni Lines has two equally high and wide pennants (108x360 (approximately)
1. blue with white letters JRE
2. blue with white letters P&Co (o uppercase)

Jarig Bakker, 13 October 2003

[Thomas Wilson Line houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

Only the tiniest of splits is shown by the on-line 1912 Lloyds Flags & Funnels:, i.e. ‘Thos. Wilson, Sons & Co., Ltd Hull’ (no. 1660). Perhaps the thinly split pennant was the predecessor of the swallowtail?
Jan Mertens, 22 November 2005

According to Loughran (1979) this company started life as Thomas Wilson, Sons & Co., Ltd., in Hull. It became part of the Ellerman Group as the Ellerman's Wilson Line, Ltd., of Hull, at about the time of the First World War. During the 19th c. its houseflag seems to have been a normal pennant, but by the turn of the century it appears as a burgee, which is its present form, with, of course, the blue Ellerman pennant above.

Loughran has two images:
1. a triangular burgee, white with a red disk, for "Thos. Wilson (&c)
2. a tapered swallowtail, idem, with the Ellerman burgee on top

Your message indicates to me that the take-over took place on or a bit before 1916, and that at first the Ellerman burgee was not flown above it.
Jarig Bakker, 22 November 2005

The same house flag is shown in Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (#1660, p. 116)
Ivan Sache, 3 May 2021

[Ellerman's Wilson Line houseflag] image by Rob Raeside

Ellerman's Wilson Line. Although this tapered swallowtail version is shown by all the regular sources the NMM flag differs by being a normal rectangular swallowtail [see E259 attached] with their proportions being 600mm x 1778 for the pennant and 1168mm x 1828 for the swallowtail i.e. in the three cases where actual measurements are available the Ellerman pennant differs in each case but basically but be considered in the ratio of 1:3 compared with the houseflag at 2:3 and with the hoist of the pennant being half that of the houseflag.

[Ellerman's Wilson Line houseflag]    [Ellerman's Wilson Line houseflag]    [Ellerman's Wilson Line houseflag] images by Rob Raeside

In 1973 the company was restructured with Ellerman City Liners being formed to look after most of the Group's shipping interests. This led to the adoption of a new flag in 12/1974 according to Loughran (1979) which was based on an advertising logo which originated from the company funnel markings which were buff with a black top separated by a broad white band. The flag resulting was blue with 3 horizontal oblong panels [possibly representing containers] one above the other, the upper being closer to the fly, the central closer to the hoist and the lower central, the sides of these panels being angled per bend sinister. The Loughran version, also shown in Brown 1982, has an upper panel of black, a central of white with a black frame and a lower of yellow, all three being edged white in a joining border and the central white panel bearing the angled black legend "ELLERMAN". I also have a provided drawing of the time supposedly taken from the actual flags and which is reasonably close in design, showing the panels not being connected, the upper being dark blue edged white, the central white with the legend being dark blue, and the lower orange edged white [black and dark blue being close together, buff of the funnel perhaps being shown by a yellow/orange]. Then in Brown 1995 another version is shown under the title of Ellerman Lines where the colours of the panels, which are all separated, are shown as red edged white, white with the blue legend, and blue edged white. These may be variations as they searched for the best combination or a result of interpretations of sightings.
Neale Rosanoski
, 31 May 2005

[Ellerman Group pennant] image located by Jan Mertens, 20 December 2007

This image further illustrates the use of these flags. It comes from a recent update of the Maritime Timetable Images - a White Wilson pennant with tiny split (but larger than shown by Lloyd’s 1912) with blue JRE pennant above. Both have the same length.
Source: company brochure detailing sailings June-September 1927, to and from Hull mostly.
Jan Mertens, 20 December 2007

[Wilson Line houseflag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 May 2010

From a postcard collection: 12.4.3: Wilson Line
Postcard #12, 4th row, 3rd flag of the collection reads "Wilson Line" and shows two pennants on the same line, their hoist top and bottom tips touching, each ~1:3, the upper one plain dark blue and the bottom one white with a red disc on its middle.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 19 May 2010

Elliott Steam Tug Co., Ltd.

(Dick & Page)

[Elliott Steam Tug Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

This company had been founded in 1856 by Captain Thomas William (c. 1823-1891) Elliott in partnership with John Henry Elliott, John Cook, Henry Beer Mumford & Henry Holmes. Vessels were registered to groups of partners. Matthew Dick and John Page entered the partnership in 1889 and shortly after became the managers for the business. The fleet is still known to this day as the Dick and Page tugs. It became Elliott Steam Tug Co. Ltd. in 1897. In 1949 the owners were restyled as Elliott Steam Tug Company [1949] Ltd. From the mid 1920's until 1939 one of the companies main operations was the towing of large barges laden with bricks from Boom in Belgium to London. In 1950 the company became part of the Ship Towage [London} Limited combine.
The company sold its vessels to William Watkins, Ltd., in 1964. On 25 June 1968, it was placed in voluntary liquidation by Alfred John Page and Terence Norrington Parker. It was dissolved on 14 April 1969.

Dick and Page tugs had quite bellicose names: "Challenge", "Challenger", "Champion", "Conqueror", "Contest", "Crusade", "Revenger", "Security", "Vanquisher", "Venturous", "Victory", "Warrior", "Wrangler".
Thames Tugs

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Elliott Steam Tug Co., Ltd. (Dick & Page) (#154, p. 44), as swallow-tailed, white with a red cross, charged in the center with a white square inscribing a white device outlined in black.
Ivan Sache, 21 April 2021

Ellis & McHardy

[Ellis & McHardy houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Ellis & McHardy, once coal merchants, are registered today as Ellis & McHardy Oils, Ltd., oil fuel distributers.

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Ellis & McHardy (#1570, p. 111), an Aberdeen-based shipping company, as blue with a white three red triangles spreading from the hoist to the fly.
Ivan Sache, 1 May 2021

Ellis, Spence & Co., Ltd.

[Ellis, Spence & Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 28 April 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Ellis, Spence & Co., Ltd. (#955, p. 82), a Grimsby-based company, as blue with a thin white saltire.
Ivan Sache, 28 April 2021

Elswick Steam Shipping Co., Ltd.

Weidner, Hopkins & Co.

[Elswick Steam Shipping Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Elswick Steam Shipping Co., Ltd. (Weidner, Hopkins & Co.) (#1866, p. 125), a Newcastle-based company, as white with a red cross, charged in the respective quarters with the red letters "W", "H", "&", and "Co"
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Elvidge & Morgan

[Elvidge & Morgan houseflag] image by Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Lloyd's Book of House Flags and Funnels (1912) shows the house flag of Elvidge & Morgan (#1760, p. 120), a Cardiff-based shipping company, as made of two triangular pennants, the upper green with a white "E", the lower red with a white "M".
Ivan Sache, 4 May 2021

Embiricos Shipping Agency Ltd.

[Embiricos Shipping Agency Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 15 February 2006

Embiricos Shipping Agency Ltd., London - blue flag, white "E".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 15 February 2006

British Shipping lines: continued