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A Collection of Companies

'The P&O Company now controls 427 steamers with a gross tonnage exceeding 2 and a quarter million tons. The ships are operating all over the world. Our wings are well spread.' The Rt. Hon. Lord Inchcape

Before the end of the decade the Company’s wings would spread even further. The purchase of GSNCo, founded in 1824, brought the Company into the business of short sea coastal services and secured good access to the North of Europe. Strick Line added direct cargo services between Britain and the Arabian Gulf to the Company’s growing portfolio. There were many more acquisitions, from Tasmanian Steamers to the Turkistan Steamship Company, which turned P&O into the world’s largest shipping concern.

The ‘allies’ or associated companies, as they were known collectively, continued to operate autonomously, remaining at arm’s length for the best part of the next 50 years. The possibilities of economies of scale were left largely unexplored. Only the ship repair facilities in the Thames and at Falmouth (acquired with R&H Green & Silley Weir and Cox & Co. respectively) were considered in their wider usefulness to the P&O group.