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British shipping companies (O)

Last modified: 2019-06-04 by rob raeside
Keywords: ocean dominion steamship | ot africa line | oregon steamship | orient steam navigation | orkney steam navigation | osborn and wallis | overseas containers |
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O.I.L. Ltd.

[O.I.L. Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 3 November 2005

O.I.L. Ltd., Woking - white flag, bordered red; black "OIL".
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 3 November 2005


Olau Line Ltd.

[Olau Line Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 3 October 2005

Olau Line Ltd., Sheerness - white flag, two lying parallelograms, top one red, bottom one blue, separated by a thin white space. This might have been a Finnish firm, operating the ferry Vlissingen - Sheerness, used by the good old Magic Bus.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 3 October 2005


One Penny Postage Line

I've come across a flag image printed on a British pictorial envelope -- so it may never have existed in reality -- but I was wondering if you might recognize it. I'm attaching the image, drawn by Henry Anelay for the League of Universal Brotherhood and in support of the Ocean Penny Postage movement in 1848. It's the one on the mainmast of the steamer (that is, the one that is not the British flag).

A second envelope (stationery, actually) has a variant of the flag above. One may be correct and the other in error, or both invented -- again, I'm not sure.
Peter Shulman, 10 September 2011

The stationary obviously has the barquentine-rigged steamship One Penny, flying the house flag of the Ocean Penny Postage line. The company name is displayed on the fore course sail, as some companies did in the past, and the ship's name including part of the company name was also a common practice. That house flag, at least for ships flying the ensign of Welcome, appears to display the sealed reverse of an envelope. The pennant flying from the fore is clearly the One Penny's name pennant. Finally, the paddle box bears a representation of the company's purpose, if rather more crude than was usual.

The envelope might be showing the One Penny too, or maybe a One Penny before or after her. Here too, she sails for the Ocean Penny Postage line, but at this time, she was apparently registered in the country of Union, as she flies the Union ensign. This difference also seems to bring a different house flag, namely a white field with on it the white reverse of an envelope, while even in this image the design is not clear enough to determine for certain whether it has a seal. Here too she flies her name pennant, but the paddle box does not seem to show any lettering, making it much more agreeable.

Considering that I don't know of the countries of Welcome and Union, I would declare these as complete fiction. In today's age, there would be a chance that the Ocean Penny Postage movement would in fact have had such flags made, but since this was around 1850, this would have been quite costly, and I think they would not have gone beyond the version in the prints.

There are several more versions of the print. I think the only flag-wise difference, apart from what see here already, is that at least one version has the text on the ensign of Welcome reading "A WELCOME EVRYWHERE". The older versions are apparently those which show a design like that of the envelope, with the Union Flag as their ensign, where the British red ensign was flown by the real British mail ships. The choice may have been motivated by a desire to make it more understandable for Americans, as the movement existed on both sides of the ocean, asking for a one penny resp. two cent rate for the transatlantic leg of mail transport. Most mail between Europe and North America, here described as "The World", went through Great Britain, and the low rate would therefore be a benefit to all. The movement felt the resulting increase in mail flow would compensate the lower income per envelope.

While it is all just fiction, in my opinion, I would point out the details of the house flag. The saltire lines are drawn is such a way that they resemble an envelope, with a seal on it, yet the resulting flag cleverly mimics the flag of the actual mail company, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., which was a saltire bearing a crown.
The depicted Union Ensign shows that the artist is quite capable of indicating thickness of saltires, even at that size, so the likeness to an envelope, rather than to the actual flag, is quite deliberate. It's also a quite enjoyable visual pun.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 April 2012


Oregon Steamship Co.

[Oregon Steamship Co. Ltd. houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of the Oregon Steamship Co. Ltd, London. An olive, green rectangular flag with a black diamond in the centre bearing a letter 'O' in white. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached."
Jarig Bakker, 22 August 2004


Orient Steam Navigation Co.

[Orient Steam Navigation Co. houseflag] image by James Dignan

Based on Sampson (1957)
James Dignan, 15 October 2003

Orient Steam Navigation Co. (Anderson, Green & Co,. Ltd., Managers)
Houseflag: white, with blue St. George's Cross and gold crown in center.
Jarig Bakker, 16 October 2003

British. Formed circa 1877 with trade routes to Australia and later New Zealand and by the 1950s to San Francisco, Vancouver and Honolulu. P&O purchased majority interest in 1919 and the balance of the company in 1965. The next year the company was fully absorbed into P&O.
Phil Nelson, 16 October 2003

The art-work on the crown at a specimen in the National Maritime Museum is quite different.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 6 May 2019

See also: White Star Lines

[Orient Steam Navigation Co. houseflag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 May 2010

[Orient Steam Navigation Co. houseflag] image located by Neale Rosanoski, 26 February 2004

Orient Steam Navigation Co. The Stewart series uses this company as an example of the development of a house flag although it includes one discrepancy. The original flag combined those of Anderson, Anderson & Co. (blue with a white saltire) and Frederick Green & Co. (white with a red cross surmounting a blue panel), who combined as Anderson & Green (also shown as Green & Anderson) in 1874 to operate the Orient Line, forerunner of the Orient Steam Navigation Co. which was formed in either 1877 or 1878. This combined flag was blue with a white saltire and overall an undefined white diamond bearing a red cross over a blue panel. Stewart does not show the panel in his example but it is by Loughran 1979. Whichever is correct was used until c.1880 when the white with red cross and crown format was adopted, presumably being based on the similar flag used by Pacific Steam Navigation Co. who were associated in these early days, but this has the red letters "OSNC" in the respective quarters. This was altered slightly by the addition of a small "o" after the "C" with Loughran quoting 1888 and Stewart c.1892 but both then agreeing that in 1908 the letters were done away with, coinciding with Pacific Steam being no longer connected.
Neale Rosanoski, 26 February 2004


Orkney Islands Shipping Co., Ltd.

[Orkney Islands Shipping Co., Ltd. houseflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 10 November 2005

Orkney Islands Shipping Co., Ltd., Kirkwall - red flag, near top and bottom rectangles; in center "O", containing "I", all white.
Source: Loughran (1995)
Jarig Bakker, 10 November 2005


Orkney Steam Navigation Co.

[Orkney Steam Navigation Co. houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of the Orkney Steam Navigation Co., Kirkwall. A rectangular flag divided diagonally into four broad white and five narrow red stripes."
Jarig Bakker, 23 August 2004


Osborn and Wallis

[Osborn and Wallis houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of Osborn and Wallis, Cardiff. A white flag with the monogram 'OW' in blue in the centre. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached."
Jarig Bakker, 23 August 2004


OT Africa Line

[OT Africa Line houseflag] by Jorge Candeias, 03 Feb 1999

Yellow, a white disc with a wide blue border (making an "O") and a blue "T" inside.
Jorge Candeias, 03 Feb 1999

Believe this should be a British company as OTAL appears to be a subsidiary of Thamesport.
Al Fisher, 03 Feb 1999

OT Africa Line. Brown 1995 shows this flag for the Swedish company O.T. Shipping A/B which appears to have originated as O.T. Rederierna which was declared bankrupt by the Swedish Government in 1982 with its assets disposed of to A/B Shipinvest which was formed for that purpose. However it continued to be shown in Lloyds as O.T. Shipping A/B until the early 1990s. Brown makes reference to the OT Africa Line service as having the same flag but with the addition of "OT AFRICA LINE in white outlined blue across the centre which I have presumed to resemble as attached (below). On my original visit to site for OT Africa Line, also known as OTAL, at www.otal.com, I have noted that it was formed 1975 and was based in Nigeria. It showed a logo of the OT flag with the legend plastered over it but not forming part as it extended beyond the flag borders [see logo below]. However 10/1999 it, together with its associate Antrak International, were sold to the Group Bollore of France but remain independent from their shipping arm Delmas [all this from the site].  I have just had another look at their site and are now not at all sure where their HQ is at present. The ships appear to be split between Antak and Delmas and that latter has some registered in the name of Otal Investments Ltd. formed 2001. I can only conclude from the maze that the original name was sold by the Swedes together with the flag and its continued appearance on the website means it still exists but in what context is another matter.

[OT Africa Line houseflag]  

[OT Africa Line houseflag]


Overseas Containers Ltd.

[Overseas Containers Ltd. houseflag] by Jarig Bakker, based on the website of the National Maritime Museum.

From the website of the National Maritime Museum, "the house flag of Overseas Containers Ltd., London. A rectangular blue flag bearing the letters 'OCL' in white. The flag is made of synthetic fibre bunting with a cotton hoist. A rope is attached."

In use since 1971.
Jarig Bakker, 23 August 2004


British Shipping lines: continued