175 Years in the Continental Trades
The Hull and Leith Shipping Company was formed around the year 1800, and the rival Leith and Hamburgh Shipping Company was formed around 1816 with services between Leith and Hamburg. In 1836, a small wooden paddle steamer, Pegasus of 130 grt began trading between Leith and Hull, but she was wrecked off Holy island in 1843. In 1847, the companies merged with the Edinburgh and Dundee Steam Packet Company to become the Forth and Clyde Shipping Company. In 1852, regular sailings between Leith and Hamburg began and the company name was changed to a new title of the Leith, Hull and Hamburg Steam Packet Company (LHHSP).
One of the leading partners in the LHHSP at this time was Thomas Barclay, a brother of the Head of Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd., shipbuilders on the Clyde. Vessels such as the iron three masted screw steamer Edina of 380 grt were completed by Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. in 1854 for the passenger and cargo services to Hamburg, Copenhagen and Stettin. She was sold in 1862 for service in Australian waters for Callender & Walker of Melbourne. Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. also built the sisters Cumberland and Sutherland of 959 grt in 1966, the first for the company with the suffix ‘land’. They were three masted steamers with fo’c’stle and poop of length forty feet, and powered by two cylinder compound steam engines by the builders. They were lengthened during 1869/71 to give dimensions of length 252 feet by beam of thirty feet, the same dimensions of two new steamers built in 1871/72 as Courland and Gothland of 1,482 grt from the Robert Napier and J. & J. Thomson yards on the Clyde. The latter pair had a spar deck for passengers, and other vessels ran cargo only services to all German, Baltic and Russian ports such as Bremen, Danzig, Pilau, Koningsberg, Libau, Pernau and St. Petersburg.
The first ship named Britannia of 327 grt had been taken over in 1947 with the Edinburgh and Dundee Steam Packet Company, and the second Britannia of 371 grt had been built in 1862 and sold a year later to a Liverpool owner for use as an American Civil War blockade runner. Britannia of 420 grt built in 1866 was the third steamer of this name for the company, but was wrecked in 1873 off Holy island. The steamer Ferrara of 1,162 grt built in 1880 by Robert Steele & Company at Greenock achieved greater fame later when sold in 1915 to the Anglo-Persian oil Co. Ltd. (renamed BP in 1954) as a cased oil carrier until she was burnt out and sunk in July, 1923.
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