Peninsular and Oriental
Steam Navigation Co.

Introduction .

P and O Houseflag

BLUE to the mast
RED to the fly
YELLOW to the deck
WHITE to the sky

The main Agents in Australia were Macdonald Hamilton and Co Pty Ltd., the Melbourne Office of which was situated in their own building at 311 Collins Street, Melbourne, a few doors down from Elizabeth Street.


Details of this company, which I joined in October 1954, are shown on its own page: Macdonald Hamilton and Co Pty Ltd, with its link below.

When I was working for the Company we had the following Liners that called regularly at Port Melbourne, and which I visited many times, always spending as many hours aboard as possible during their day long, and sometimes, overnight stays in port.

These were : Strathaird, Stratheden, Strathmore and Strathnaver; Arcadia, Iberia, Himalaya and Canberra, there were in addition freighters, some of which carried a small number of passengers as well. A virtual sister ship to Himalaya was Chusan, which had the same Thorneycroft funnel as the former, however at that time she was used on the London to Japan service via Suez. In 1966 she was transferred to the Australian run, later being sold for scrap in July 1973, a year before Himalaya who went to the same breakers in Taiwan the following November.

When, in 1958, P and O's remaining interest in the Orient Line was taken up a new company was formed and became known as P and O - Orient Lines, and in Australia as P and O - Orient Lines of Australia.

At this time the Melbourne passage staff were still situated on the ground floor at 311 Collins Street. Up to that time passage tickets had been typed out, with an original copy (the Ticket), and two duplicates, one for accounts and one for filing. The ticket was then placed in a card cover and fastened with two 'eylets'. Prior to issuing the ticket a passenger was given a Deposit Ticket, which was similar to a passage ticket except that it was blue, was put in a blue cover, and had the words 'Deposit Ticket' on the cover and inside ticket. This was exchanged for the actual Passage Ticket upon payment of the balance of fare, usually one month prior to the sailing date. Both the deposit and passage tickets had to be signed by a senior Passage Clerk, in my days either Bob Gardiner, who was in charge of the Berthing Section (putting passengers in berths/cabins) Fred Ferguson, in emergency either Ernie Olssen (Deputy Passenger Manager) or Peter Kimber (Passenger Manager).

With the formation of the new company, however, came a totally new type of passage ticket. This was composed of, I think, 5 copies of which the first and second were the forward and return portions of the travel document. The third was the Deposit Ticket, and the fourth and fifth Accounts and Filing respectively. The pages were also carbon backed, this being before 'no carbon required' (NCR) tickets appeared. As a result they could get rather dirty. The other main difference was that they were written out by hand. There were also two new staff employed to handle the Trans-Pacific bookings, the senior was David Harris, a former ships Radio Operator and Dick Rayson, ex RAF and former Spitfire Pilot. David Harris usually signed the pacific area tickets.The itineraries of this service are shown on the page under P and O Other Companies see link below:

Arcadia Luncheon Menu 21st April 1956

Food aboard the company's vessels was always excellent. The menu opposite was typical and depicts the Luncheon Menu aboard "Arcadia" and was dated Saturday 21st April 1956.

The menus for Luncheon and Dinner were printed daily in the ship's printing shop.

The variety of food is well illustrated, remember this was only just over 8 years since the end of the 2nd World War.

P and O Flag Label Reverse of P and O Flag Baggage Label P and O Baggage Initial Label
Early versions of P and O Cabin Baggage Labels, front and reverse and 1950s onwards Initial Label.

This is a Baggage label circa 1920-30s

P and O Baggage Labels
Baggage labels of
P and O, 1960s.

These vaccination certificates were issued by the various shipping lines as a record of the, then, compulsory vaccinations that were required depending upon which country the passenger(s) would be visiting. Vaccinations were generally required against smallpox, yellow fever, typhoid and para-typhoid fever, cholera etc.

This certificate belongs to my friend John Dickinson and is reproduced here with thanks.

In the mid to late 1950s the Australian Government chartered ships to carry migrants to Australia. Two such vessels, non P and O, are illustrated below and made one voyage each under the P and O flag.

Gumhuryat Misr 1957
From a photograph in the 1961 Adlard Coles publication Passenger Liners by Laurence Dunn.

" Gumhuryat Misr " was built in 1928 by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead originally as the Lady Nelson.

Her gross tonnage was 7,830 she was 437 feet in length with a beam of 59 feet, a draught of 24 feet 1 inch and a service speed of 14 knots.

She was bought by Egypt in 1953 and refitted at Alexandria to carry pilgrims and emigrants.

She made one voyage under P and O management about 1957 and upon her arrival in Australia most of her passengers referred to her as the "Gumnut Misery" and had much adverse publicity.

Former White Star Liner Georgic
S.S. "Georgic" photographer unknown
(Michael Byard collection)

" Georgic" built in Belfast by Harland and Wolffe in 1931 being the last ship built for White Star Line which became part of the Cunard White Star Line, due to government insistance, in 1934. Used as a troop ship she was attacked by German bombers off the North African coast and badly damaged but was driven ashore to stop her sinking. She was salvaged and towed to Port Sudan, and later to Karachi. She eventually found her way back to Belfast where she was completely overhauled and converted to a migrant ship. It was in this guise that she arrived in Melbourne in 1955 under P and O management . I took the mail out to her and vividly remember standing at her Promenade Deck rail and looking down her sides at the still buckled plates that had been caused by the intense heat.

She was scrapped at Faslane in 1956.

P and O Cruises Breakfast Menu
P and O Cruises Breakfast Menu interior

This mint condition P and O Cruises Breakfast Menu is, I think, a product of the post-Carnival take-over of the cruises
section of P and O and is, possibly, a generic issue because no vessel is mentioned.

P and O Line, page 2
NEW P and O Centenary Booklet 1837 - 1937
P and O 175th Anniversary Cruise Ship Parade down Southampton Water
Macdonald Hamilton and Co Pty Ltd.
Melbourne P and O - Orient Lines
For individual vessels click below
P and O Straths
P and O Arcadia
P and O Iberia
P and O Himalaya
P and O Orsova
P and O Canberra
P and O New Oriana
P and O Liners of the Past
P and O Other Companies
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