Flags of various P&O subsidiary shipping lines | P&O Heritage

Shipping Companies

P&O acquired over 40 different shipping lines worldwide -
find out more in our brief company histories.


The P&O Years

In September 1916 The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company acquired a controlling interest in NZSCo.  In spite of the change in ownership, both NZSCo and Federal continued to enjoy considerable autonomy with the latter's founder Allan Hughes becoming chairman of NZSCo in 1920.RANGITATA 

The company continued to pursue joint ventures and in partnership with Ellerman's and Port Line, the three companies formed the Montreal, Australia and New Zealand Line (MANZ) which operated from 1936 to 1971.  MANZ took in the East Coast United States, which trade was also served by the American and Australian Steamship Line (1956-1971).  In 1954 the Avenue Shipping Company Ltd was founded to augment the NZSCo and Federal Steam fleets when needed; otherwise its ships operated on tramping services.  Crusader Line (1957-1967), a joint service from New Zealand to the West Coast of the United States and to Japan (in partnership with Shaw Savill, Port Line and Blue Star) was another Pacific venture.  Crusader would later become containerised as Crusader Swire Container Service, part of Overseas Containers Ltd (OCL).  Finally the Dolphin Line (1967-1971) was a joint service formed of conventional cargo ships to supplement the OCL service; the partners were NZSCo, Scottish Shire and Clan Lines, Shaw Savill and Ocean Steamship Company.

The advent of the container ship (the Australian trade was one of the first to be containerised in the late sixties with the New Zealand trade following much later) and the rapid development of air travel presaged the end of the passenger/cargo liner in the 1960s and the conventional cargo liner in the 1970s.  The subsequent absorption of New Zealand Shipping Company, Federal Steam and Avenue Shipping Company into the General Cargo Division of P&O in 1971 was seen as a natural development.

Archive Collection

TEKOAThe Records were deposited on permanent loan by P&O to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.  Within the collection, there are continuous Minute Books of Directors’ meetings in London from 1874 to 1971, copies of the ‘Colony’ Board Minutes, 1890 to 1904, the Directors’ Minute Books of the Federal Steam Navigation Company and Avenue Shipping Company, numerous details on the passenger trade including some passenger books, ships’ movements, correspondence and details regarding subsidiary companies.  For a full listing of the holdings, please consult the NMM catalogue directly.

Some records of NZSCo area also held at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington and the New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland.

Selected Published Sources

Bott, Alan, Sailing Ships of the New Zealand Shipping Company 1873-1900.  (BT Batsford, London, 1972)

Clarkson, John and Roy Fenton, Ships in Focus: New Zealand and Federal Lines (John & Marchion Clarkson, Preston, 1995)

Critchell, J T, A History of the Frozen Meat Trade.  (London, 1912)

Haws, Duncan, Merchant Fleets 7: New Zealand Shipping & Federal SNCo.  (TCL Publications, Burwash, 1985)

Holman, Gordon, In the Wake of Endeavour.  (Charles Knight & Co, London, 1973)

Laxon, W A, Farquhar, I J, Kirby N J and F W Perry, Crossed Flags: The Histories of the New Zealand Shipping Company Ltd and the Federal Steam Navigation Company Ltd and their subsidiaries (World Ship Society, Gravesend, 1997)

Waters, Sydney D, Ordeal by Sea: the (New Zealand Shipping) Company’s History in the Second World War.  (NZSCo, London, 1949)

Waters, Sydney D, Clipper Ship to Motor Liner.  (NZSCo London, 1939)

Documents from the P&O Archive

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Bow view of the ORSOVA

Shipping Companies

P&O acquired many shipping lines worldwide - find out more about some of them in our Shipping Company Histories.