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The Fleets

General Screw Steam Shipping Company 1848-1857

The General Screw Steam Shipping Company was founded in 1848 by James Laming, who for some 30 years previously had owned sailing ships plying between England and the Netherlands.
In the autumn of 1849 the 500 ton iron screw BOSPHORUS inaugurated the new company's service from Liverpool to Gibraltar, Malta and Constantinople (Istanbul), the HELLESPONT and PROPONTIS of similar size joining her as soon as completed. The Company was contracted in November 1850 to carry the mails monthy between Plymouth and Cape Town for 30,000 a year. The BOSPHORUS opened the service in December 1850 and reached Cape Town in 40 days; 5 more than the contract time.
Lady JocelynAlmost at once orders were placed with C. J. Mare & Co. of Blackwall, London, builders of the earlier ships, for the QUEEN OF THE SOUTH, which was followed by the sister ships LADY JOCELYN, INDIANA, CALCUTTA, MAURITIUS and HYDASPES. On 29 May 1852 an agreement was reached for the Company to provide a monthly mail service from England to Madras and Calcutta, via St. Vincent, Ascension St. Helena, Cape Town, Mauritius and Ceylon.

The Australian Royal Mail Steam Navigation Company started a mail service between England and Australia in June 1852 which proved so unreliable that the contract was withdrawn in April 1853.
The General Screw Company had already despatched two steamers to Australia early in the year and decided to step in with a regular service. The new steamer ARGO sailed from Southampton on 8 May 1853 and reached Melbourne in 64 days, calling only at St. Vincent; she returned via Cape Horn and after a passage of similar duration received considerable publicity as the first steamer to encircle the globe.
Unfortunately, the Indian service had been a disastrous failure owing to a number of serious breakdowns of the steamers, the unexpectedly high cost and consumption of fuel and the disappointing passenger and cargo results. There was no alternative but to withdraw the service, the last sailing being taken by the PROPONTIS on 15 March 1854. Despite the award of a short-term mail contract, the Australian service did not last much longer, and the ARGO took the final sailing from Southampton on 4 October 1854. The problem of what to do with the superfluous units of the fleet was partially solved by chartering the new steamers GOLDEN FLEECE, JASON and THE PRINCE to carry troops to the Mediterranean.
The INDIANA left Calcutta on 16 March 1854 on her third homeward voyage from India and arrived at Plymouth on 27 May. A fortnight later that she would inaugurate a new service for the General Screw Company from Le Havre and Southampton to New York, under the management of Croskey & Co., agents for the American owned Ocean Navigation Company, which was running a monthly service between New York, Southampton and Bremen with two wooden paddle steamers and for the New York & Havre Steam Navigation Company, whose monthly service between New York, Southampton and Havre was being undertaken temporarily by chartered wooden paddle steamers.
The intention was that the INDIANA and MAURITIUS should sail once a month between Le Havre, Southampton and New York, and the CROESUS and the QUEEN OF THE SOUTH once a month between Bremen, Southampton and New York on alternate dates with the American steamers, thereby providing a combined weekly sailing from Southampton.
All the units of the fleet were chartered as a Crimean War transport in 1854-1855. Disaster befell three of the transports, as THE PRINCE was wrecked in the Crimea in November 1854 during a hurricane, the CROESUS was destroyed by fire in April 1855 when carrying Sardinian troops to the Crimea and 2 months previously the MAURITIUS was badly damaged by fire in drydock at Southampton.

The entire fleet was sold after the war and in 1857 to the European & American Steam Shipping Company, four of them were chartered in 1859-1860 to the Galway Line.

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

  • Routes:
    • Gibraltar-Malta-Constantinople
    • Plymouth-Cape Town
    • monthly mail service from Plymouth to Calcutta via St. Vincent, Ascension, St. Helena, Cape Town, Mauritius, Ceylon, and Madras
    • Southampton-Melbourne
    • Le Havre-Southampton-New York

Funnel:
Black.

Fleet:

Funnel
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Argo 1853 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1859 chartered to Galway Line, 28 June 1859 wrecked at Trepassey Bay. 1,815
Bosphorus 1849 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1859 Sold, 21 October 1867 wrecked on Zitzikamma Point, Cape Colony. 445
Calcutta 1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1855 rebuilt 2,260gt, 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1859 sold to Anglo Luso Brazilian Royal Mail Steam Nav. Co., Portugal renamed Portugal, 1861 sold to East India & London Shipping Co., London renamed Calcutta, 1868 sold to Taylor, Sons & Co. London and converted into a sailing ship renamed Darling Downs, 1887 sunk in collision. 1,802
Croesus 1853 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | Laid down as Jason but completed as Croesus, 24 April 1855 caught fire off Portofino, beached and became total loss, while serving as a Crimean War transport. 2,500
Golden Fleece 1853 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1860 chartered to Galway Line, 1869 foundered in Penarth Roads. 1,850
Harbinger 1847 Built for Admiralty as corvette HMS Recruit. 848 | 1852 Purchased and renamed Harbinger, 1854 converted to transport. 1856 sold to W. S/ Lindsay. 1860 machinery removed and hull sold. 848
Hellespont 1849 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | no further info. 500
Hydaspes 1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1855 rebuilt 2,243gt, 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1861 sold to East India & London Shipping Co., London not renamed, 1868 sold to Park Bros and converted into a sailing ship, 1880 sunk in collision. 1,871
Indiana 1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1861 sold to East India & London Shipping Co., London not renamed, 1870 sold renamed Ferdinand de Lesseps, 1873 sold renamed Great Queensland, 1876 missing at sea. 1,850
Jason 1853 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1859 chartered to Galway Line, 1861 sold to East India & London Shipping Co., London not renamed, 27 December 1862 wrecked north off Madras. 1,850
Lady Jocelyn 1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1859 sold to Anglo Luso Brazilian Royal Mail Steam Nav. Co., Portugal renamed Brazil, 1860 chartered to Galway Line, 1861 sold to East India & London Shipping Co., London renamed Lady Jocelyn, 1868 sold to Park Bros and converted into a sailing ship, 1868 chartered to Shaw Savill & Albion not renamed, 1883 purchased, 1899 sold to Shipping Federation, London and hulked, 1922 or 1926 scrapped in Holland. 1,850
Mauritius 1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1855 damaged by fire and repaired 2,135gt, 1871 sold renamed Russia, 1872 converted into a sailing ship not renamed, 1889 sold to Norway not renamed, 8 November 1892 wrecked at Cardiff. 1,850
Propontis 1849 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | no further info. 500
Queen of the South 1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed, 1859 sold to Anglo Luso Brazilian Royal Mail Steam Nav. Co., Portugal renamed The Milford Haven, 1861 sold to East India & London Shipping Co., London renamed Queen of the South, 1872 sold and converted into a sailing ship renamed Malta, 24 November 1885 wrecked near Sandy Hook. 1,850
The Prince 1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., Blackwall, London | 1854 wrecked while acting as a Crimean War transport. 1,850

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