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The Fleets

Aitken, Lilburn & Co. / Glasgow Shipping Co. / General Shipping Co. / Loch Line

Aitken, Lilburn & Co. began operating a line of sailing ships to Australia in 1870 when they formed the Glasgow Shipping Co. with six 1,250 ton iron sailing clippers. In 1873 a second company, the General Shipping Co. was formed with a different group of investors, but again managed by Aitken and Lilburn. Originally, the Glasgow Shipping Co. was intended to serve Melbourne and the General Shipping Co. to serve Sydney but over time the two companies merged and were only distinguished for shareholding purposes. The usual route was to load general cargo and passengers at Glasgow and then sail to Adelaide. They then sailed to Melbourne or Sydney where they loaded wool or grain, generally for London. The company never changed to steamships but persisted with sail and from 1900 consistently ran at a financial loss. Passengers generally preferred the speed and comfort of steamers and freight rates dropped. The ships usually managed one round voyage to Australia per year and half of this time was unprofitably spent in port, loading, unloading or waiting for cargoes. Experimental homeward voyages via San Francisco, South Africa and New Caledonia proved unprofitable, the service finally closed in 1911 and the remaining ships were sold.

Many thanks to — 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.

Find a photograph & voyage account here, for the Loch Long from Glasgow to Melbourne, in 1886 and photographs of several other ships here http://www.merseysideviews.com/Sailing%20vessels/pages/Sng%20Vls%20089.htm

Fleet:
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
America 1872 three masted ship, 1873 purchased from J. H. Watt, Glagow, 1875 renamed Loch Laggan, 25th Nov. 1875 spoken to in position 26.00S 25.00W but never seen again. 1,504
Loch Ard 1873 three masted ship, 1st June 1878 wrecked near Curdies Inlet, 27 miles west from Cape Otway on voyage London to Melbourne ; loss of 52 lives of the 54 passengers and crew aboard. 1,693
Loch Broom 1885 four masted barque, 1912 sold to Skibsakties Songdal (S. O. Stray & Co.), Christiansand, Norway renamed Songdal. 2nd Feb. 1917 sunk by German submarine U.81 in 50.10N 10.10W on voyage Buenos Aires to London with maize. 2,128
Loch Carron 1885 four masted barque, 1912 sold to A/S Christiansand (S. O. Stray & Co.), Christiansand, Norway renamed Seileren. 11th Oct.1915 sunk in collision with s/s VITTORIA off Torr Head, Co. Antrim on voyage Greenock to Delaware Breakwater. 2,128
Loch Earn 1869 three masted ship, Nov.1873 abandoned at sea in sinking condition after colliding with and sinking the French steamer VILLE DU HAVRE in the North Atlantic with the loss of 227 lives from the French ship. 1,248
Loch Etive 1878 three masted ship, 1911 sold for scrapping in Italy. 1,288
Loch Fyne 1876 three masted ship, 14th May 1883 sailed from Lyttelton for the Channel with a cargo of wheat and went missing. 1,270
Loch Garry 1875 three masted ship, 1911 sold for scrapping in Italy. 1,565
Loch Katrine 1869 three masted ship, April 1910 dismasted off Cape Howe and towed to Port Jackson by tug HEROIC. June 1910 sold to Dalgety & Co., Sydney for conversion to a hulk. Oct. 1910 converted to a lighter, subsequently taken to Rabaul and eventually sunk as a breakwater. 1,252
Loch Laggan   see America.  
Loch Leven 1870 three masted ship, 24th Oct. 1871 stranded on King Island, Bass Strait on voyage Geelong to London with wool. All saved but Master drowned when he returned to the ship to retrieve the ship's papers. 1,257
Loch Lomond 1870 three masted ship, 1908 sold to C. H. Cooper, London, 1908 resold to the Union SS Co. of New Zealand. 16th July 1908 sailed from Newcastle NSW for Lyttelton with cargo of coal and went missing. 1,249
Loch Long 1876 three masted ship, 29th April 1903 sailed from New Caledonia for Glasgow with a cargo of nickel ore and went missing with 24 crew. Wreckage later washed up on Chatham Islands. (picture & 1886 voyage account) 1,261
Loch Maree 1873 three masted ship, 29th Oct.1881 sailed from Geelong for London with wheat and went missing. 1,657
Loch Moidart 1881 four masted barque, 27th Jan.1890 wrecked at Callantzoog, Nieuwe Diep on voyage Pisagua to Hamburg with nitrate. Two saved. 2,081
Loch Ness 1869 three masted ship, 1908 sold to Stevedore & Shipping Co., Sydney (a subsidiary of Deutsche-Australische Line) for use as a coal hulk. 1914 seized by the Australian Government. 1926 sunk in gunfire practice by HMAS MELBOURNE off Rottnest Island, Fremantle. 1,258
Loch Nevis 1894 four masted barque, 1900 sold to Rhederei Acties Gesellschaft von 1896, Hamburg renamed Octavia, 6th Aug. 1905 beached at Bahia Blanca after explosion in coal cargo, salvaged and converted to hulk at Puerto Madryn. 1918 rebuilt as a steamer for Gaddo Cappagli, Buenos Aires renamed Primero. 17th Aug. 1922 wrecked at Deseado near Penguin Island on voyage Valparaiso to Buenos Aires. 2,431
Loch Rannoch 1868 three masted ship, ex- Clan Ranald, 1875 purchased from Kidston, Ferrier-Kerr and Black, Glasgow renamed Loch Rannoch, 1907 sold to Akties Loch Rannoch (M. Nielsen), Laurvig, Norway, 1909 scrapped at Harburg. 1,243
Loch Ryan 1877 three masted ship, 1909 sold to Government of Victoria, Melbourne for use as a training ship, 1910 renamed John Murray, 1917 sold to Government of Australia and returned to service. 29th May 1918 wrecked on Maldon Islands, South Pacific on voyage San Francisco to Melbourne. 1,264
Loch Shiel 1878 three masted ship, 30th Jan. 1894 stranded on Thorn Island, Milford Haven on voyage Glasgow to Adelaide and Melbourne. 1,277
Loch Sloy 1877 three masted ship, 24th April 1899 wrecked Kangaroo Island on voyage Glasgow to Adelaide and Melbourne. 3 survivors. 1,280
Loch Sunart 1878 three masted ship, 18th Jan. 1879 stranded in Ballywater Bay, Co. Down on voyage Glasgow to Melbourne. 1,284
Loch Tay 1869 three masted ship, 1909 sold to Huddart Parker & Co., Melbourne for use as a coal hulk. 1958 scrapped at Port Adelaide. 1,250
Loch Torridon 1881 four masted barque, 1912 sold to A. E. Blom, Nystad, Denmark. 24th Jan. 1915 abandoned in sinking condition in 51.35N 12.28W on voyage Fredrikstad to Geelong with timber. 2,081
Loch Vennachar 1875 three masted ship, 12th Nov. 1901 rammed and sunk by the s/s CATO while at anchor off Thameshaven, later salvaged and repaired. 14th June 1905 sailed from Glasgow for Adelaide and Melbourne, spoken to in 35.21S 133.00E and then disappeared with loss of 27 lives. Wreckage discovered by divers in 1976 on Kangaroo Island. 1,557

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