Union Steamship Company

Staff Register

Formed in 1853 as a steam collier company named the Southampton Steam Shipping Co to bring coal from South Wales to Southampton for the large liner companies.

In the same year it became the Union Steam Collier Co, but in 1854 all their five ships were taken over as transports for the Crimean War. Returned to their owners in 1856, they remained idle due to the large stocks of coal accumulated at Southampton.

The company made unsuccessful ventures into the UK - South America and Birkenhead - Hamburg routes, but in 1857 they were awarded the mail contract between the UK and South Africa.

In 1876 a joint mail contract with the Castle Line was awarded by the Colonial Government with the proviso that the two companies did not amalgamate.

This contract expired in 1899, and after much political manoeuvring, the two companies merged to become the Union-Castle Mail SS Co and received the new mail contract.



South Wales ports to Southampton.


Southampton - Rio de Janeiro - Buenos Aires.


Birkenhead - South Coast of England ports - Hamburg.

Southampton - Plymouth - Cape Town / Simonstown - St.Helena - Ascension - Southampton.


Intercolonial: Cape Town - Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) - Buffalo River (East London) - Port Natal.

1863-1900 Mail Service:

Southampton - Cape Town.

1863-1900 Intermediate Service:

Southampton - Plymouth - Cape Town - Port Elizabeth.

1864-1868 Eastern Mail:

Cape Town - Algoa Bay - Port Natal - Mauritius (thence via P&O Line Suez - UK)


Cape Town - Algoa Bay - Port Natal - Mauritius - Galle, Ceylon (thence via P&O Line to Far East or UK)


Cape Town - Algoa Bay - Port Natal - Mauritius.


Southampton - Port Elizabeth.


Cape Town - Zanzibar.


Cape Town - Port Nolloth.


Southampton - Antwerp(later) - Rotterdam - Hamburg.


Liverpool - Newport News - Baltimore.

1892-1900 Union-America Line (joint cargo service with Castle Line)

South Africa - USA.


1858 - 1863 Black

1863 - 1870 Buff, black top

1870 - 1891 Black

1891 - 1900 Buff

Union Line Staff A - D

Union Line Staff E - O

Union Line Staff

Union Line Staff P - Z

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