Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Blue Funnel Line

In 1851 my great, great, great uncle, Alfred Holt, was unemployed.  He'd finished an apprenticeship as an engineer in the railways just at they entered a depression.

After taking odd jobs including clerical work he set himself up as a consulting engineer, and was soon busy applying his steam engine skills in the shipping industry.

It was a period of rapid technological change, with the introduction of steam power, iron ships and screw propellers opening up new opportunities.

After working on his father's ships for many years Alfred Holt saw the opportunity to take steam power shipping to the furthest corners of the world: between Britain and China, to topple the tea clippers that still ruled these long distance routes.

So on the 11th January 1865 he and his brother Philip set up the Ocean Steam Ship Company. It would be one of a host of other subsidiaries known for their famous blue funnel.

It was the start of one of Britain's greatest merchant marine fleets.

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