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Other FOREIGN steamship companies operating on the China coast in the period to October 1949

1949 年 10 月以前在中国沿海经营的其他外国轮船公司

Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd. 忌利士輸舶公司 (1854)* 

Trautmann & Co. 惇裕洋行/North China Steamer Co. (1863)

Hongkong & Whampoa Dock Co. (1863)*

Hong Kong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. (1865)*

Moller & Co. (later Mollers' Ltd) 赉赐洋行 (1866)

Grosvenor Shipping (1955) 

Red Anchor Line [Chris Moller] (1958)

Mollers Towages Ltd 毛拿洋行  (1935-52)/ Hong Kong Towage & Salvage Co. Ltd (1952) 

China & Manila S.S. Co. Ltd. (1870) and precursors (1846+)*

George McBain & Co. 麥邊洋行 (1874)

Shanghai Tug & Lighter Co.  会德丰驳船行 (1887)

Norwegian Passenger-Carrying ‘China Coasters’ Trading South China/ Southeast Asia 1896-1977

Chinese Engineering & Mining Co., Tientsin (foreign ownership 1900-30)

G.L. Shaw, Antung 怡隆洋 (1912)

H.M.H. Nemazee (1918)

Williamson & Co. Ltd (1922)

This page introduces illustrated fleetlists of a number of foreign-owned early steamship companies in Chinese waters.  An asterisk after the company name above indicates that the list is duplicated on the "Hong Kong Local" page.


Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd-Operating northwards from Hong Kong to Swatow, Amoy and Taiwan was the Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd. (DSSC).  The short history and fleet list were prepared by Howard and an early version was first published in 1973.  It has been updated by Howard and illustrations have been added by Stephen. Click on the first PDF at right for a short history (no illustrations) of the Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd.  The second PDF provides a chronological illustrated fleetlist of the Douglas Steamship Co. Ltd. vessels such as HAI CHING and SEISTAN. The illustration below shows the HAIYANG of 1908 at Douglas Pier in Hong Kong in 1949 at the end of her service.  The photographic left part of the illustration by H.T. Wong is online at and we have drawn in the right part. A short history and illustrated fleet list of the related Williamson & Co. Ltd may be found toward the bottom of this page.







Trautmann & Co. was a pioneering company operating from Shanghai in the period from 1863. It was founded by a north German national, Johann Friederick Heinrich Trautmann, and its ships were registered in Shanghai, flying the British flag. The company was reformulated as the North China Steamer Co. in 1868, but was soon taken over by Jardine, Matheson & Co. The PDF at right contains an illustrated fleet list.  The albumen photograph below from Stephen's collection was taken at Tientsin around 1863-4 and is believed to show the Trautmann firm's fast steamer NANZING 南京.  



The Hongkong & Whampoa Dock Co. Ltd was founded in 1863 with Thomas Sutherland (local P&O agent) as Chairman and Douglas Lapraik as Secretary, to continue existing dockyards and undertake towage in the port.  By registration in 1866, James Whittall (taipan of Jardine, Matheson & Co.) was Chairman. In 1902 the yard completed the salvage tug ROBER COOKE, shown in the photograph below of the 1904 launch at the dockyard of the Swire Lower Yangste steamer SHANGHAI, thereby becoming the first company to station a fully equipped salvage tug for use in the South China Sea (HKMM, donated by SK, colorized).














Hongkong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. Ltd-A study of HCMSC was undertaken by Howard Dick and first published in H.W. Dick & S.A. Kentwell, Beancaker to Boxboat: Steamship Companies in Chinese Waters (Nautical Association of Australia, Inc., 1988).  It has been updated by Howard and illustrations have been added by Stephen.  Click on the first PDF for a short history (no illustrations of ships) of the Hongkong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Co. Ltd. The second PDF provides a chronological illustrated fleetlist of the company's vessels. Shown below at Canton as she appeared in the first part of her career is the company's KINSHAN, constructed in 1863 at Whampoa with parts fabricated in New York. We have colorized this photo by an unknown photographer which is held in the Louis Dumoulin collection at the Bibliothèque Lettres Arts Sciences Humaines Henri Bosco, Université Côte d’Azur.








Moller & Co. (later Mollers' Ltd) had its origins in a Swedish national in Shanghai, Captain Nils Moller acting as an agent for ships on the China coast and in 1882 he formed a company which started acquiring ships. The family relationships were intricate and colorful, but eventually a son Eric (N.E.A. Moller) came to predominate on the shiping side concentrating on tramp steamers used on the China coast and in the region more generally.  By 1916 Eric had assembled a fleet of nine steamers. most of which were lost, but undaunted he rebuilt the fleet and between 1930 and 1934 Moller & Co. acquired no less than 22 ships at rock bottom prices which were then employed profitably until the disruption of the war in the Pacific.  Post-WWII a significant fleet was built up again. In the PDF files at right, respectively covering the periods to 1945, after World War II, Grosvenor Shipping Co. Ltd, and the Red Anchor Line fleet run by Eric's youngest son Chris Moller, Howard begins with detailed but entertaining textual histories followed by illustrated fleet lists which attempt to cover the full careers of the ships.  Shown below in an aerial photo taken by Don Gammon at Amoy is a typical ship of the prewar fleet, ISABEL MOLLER (coll. H. Dick).  Beneath that is another rare photograph, taken at Melbourne by Tom Stevens, of the attractive PENRITH CASTLE, one of a number of vessels designed and built for the Moller-owned Castle Line. The third photograph by Dedge, taken on 1 January 1980 and published on shows the MUNCASTER CASTLE of 1977 which with her Red Anchor Line sister MERRY VIKING operated for the Hongkong International Container Line before being sold in 1981, the last two Moller ships.


































Mollers Towages Ltd was a major local salvage and towage company based in Shanghai prewar. Postwar it became Hong Kong Salvage & Towage Ltd. A short history and illustrated fleet list is contained in the PDF at right. Illustrated below is the CHRISTINE MOLLER, an 800 gt salvage tug originally built for the Russian Government in 1917 by the Shanghai Dockyard and Engineering Company.  The photograph was sent to us by former Imperial Japanese Navy officer Motoyoshi Hori, who supervised the taking over of this ship and other vessels in Shanghai in 1941.



















China & Manila S.S. Co. Ltd. and its predecessors were established to provide a connection between Hong Kong and Manila.  The company was managed by a descendant of Russell & Co. of Shanghai Steam Nav. Co. fame, but its ships were sold in 1915.  The vessel shown below in a Chinese School painting is the RUBI, built for these owners in 1901. A time line and illustrated fleet list are contained in the PDF file at right.





George McBain & Co. operated ships on the Yangtse from 1874 and later developed a case oil trade from Sumatra. A short history by Howard and an illustrated fleet list are in the PDF file at right.  The photograph below is believed to show McBain's W. CORES DE VRIES (known in Chinese as 華利 or HUALEE) loading at Hankow. A French warship can be seen in the background.

Shanghai Tug & Lighter Co. Ltd was a development of the Shanghai Tug Boat Co. Ltd founded in 1887. It was the most prominent tug and lighter company in the Shanghai, Whangpoo and Woosung port areas up until World War II.  A brief history and illustrated fleet list and a list of other major Shanghai tugs and tenders may be found in the PDF file to the right. Shown below, the steam tug FUH-LE of 1870 served mainly in the port of Shanghai for nearly 70 years (SK coll.).

Norwegian shipping companies were  active in the period from 1896 in building ships for charter by local rice millers, merchants and brokers to operate between South China and Southeast Asia. They developed their versions of the 'China Coasters' that had originated with British companies, and were a leading force in building a succession of ships designed to carry Chinese emigrants/workers as deck passengers.  One firm, Bruusgaard, Kiøsterud & Co., emerged as a South China-based operator, and such passenger operations continued on until air travel took over around 1970. This study is in two parts in the pdf files at right.  The first is a 19 page textual history and analysis that we have prepared, including a few photographs. The second is a detailed and well-illustrated fleet list of all the known the Norwegian passenger ships in this trade. Shown below is PROSPER of 1917, one of four passenger-carrying sister-ships contracted for construction with the Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co. Ltd, Hong Kong.  Carefully looked after by Norwegian and later Bangkok owners and by Chinese dockyard workers in Hong Kong, she had a 51 year career mainly employed in this trade.  The photograph which we have colorized is from the collection of Sverre Meling and was published by Ingvild Helle in a university thesis.
















Chinese Mining & Engineering Co. (CEMC) was founded by Tong King-sing (Tang Jingxing) and in 1889 commenced to acquire a small fleet of coal-carrying ships.  Initially the ships were registered for British nominees and then German mortgagors, but by the end of the 1890s they were registered for CEMC which became the second Chinese-flag shipping company recorded in Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Over Chinese objections the company was was taken over by foreign interests following the Boxer Rebellion, but in 1930 Chinese ownership was again raised to a majority.  A short history and fleet list is in the PDF file at right. Illustrated below is  CEMC's Chinwangtao Harbour on the Bohai Gulf, photographed around 1920, together with a photograph of the company's ship KAIPING being loaded from rail wagons by basket and plank (from a CEMC booklet).



George Lewis Shaw was a British merchant based in Dandong (Antung) from around 1907 until 1938 when he moved to Foochow and continued his activities from there.  He owned a small fleet of ships which is listed in the next PDF. Shown below at Shanghai working cargo with her steam winches is Shaw's rebuilt steamer SHINYU, dating from 1894 (Malcolm Rosholt/ University of Bristol).



H.M.H. Nemazee of Persian origins established a subsidiary in Hong Kong in 1855 and undertook the firm's first known steamship purchase in 1918. The concern initially acquired several steamers for coastal or regional trading but by mid-1923 had brought together a fleet of 13 steamers with a combined gross tonnage of almost 65,000 tons, usually cargo-liners with 'tween deck accommodation for a large number of unberthed passengers. With the exception of the China Merchants fleet, this was the largest fleet deployed by a non-British/European shipowner between Suez and Japan, and the period is covered by our short history and fleet list in the pdf file at right.  Acquisitions ceased between 1928 and 1940 but many purchases were made in the periods 1940-41 and 1946-51 and these will be the subject of a future post.  Shown below is Nemazee’s ALMERIA, probably at Tanjung Priok, Java in 1922/23 while on China Mail charter (WSPL).



























Stewart Williamson was a New Zealander who had a long and substantial history of operating ships out of Hong Kong, and became the final General Manager of the historic Douglas S.S. Co. for which details are accessible at the top of this page.  The profusely illustrated PDF document at right covers Williamson & Co. Ltd which he founded and for many years conducted the operations of trampships worldwide including assignments on the Australian coast in the late-1940s and early 1950s and on the China coast in the late 1950s. Shown below are two photographs of Williamson INCH- ships.  The first provided courtesy of Victor Young and thought to have been taken by Alex Duncan shows INCHONA at London immediately after acquisition in 1955. The second by Alan Travers at Sydney in 1963 is the also smartly painted INCHARRAN.

Douglas S.S. Co
Douglas Steamship
Mollers Towage
Christine Moller
Trautman line
Sin Nanzing
Moller & Co.
Castle Line ship
Hongkong International Container
China & Manila S.S. Co.
George McBain
Shanghai Tug & Lighter Co
Chinese Mining & Engineering
China ship coal
George Lewis Shaw
HMH Nemazee
Nemazee shipping line
Shp Inchona
ship Incharran
china coast
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