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The Fleets

Union-Castle Mail S.S. Company

Formed 1900 by the merger of Union SS Co. and the Castle Mail Packet Co. 1912 Royal Mail group took over control of the company. 1919 Bullard King & Co.'s Natal Direct Line taken over. After the collapse of the Royal Mail group in 1931, Union-Castle Line was left with heavy financial commitments and took several years to achieve recovery and become an independent company again. The King Line was taken over in 1949 and in 1956 a new company was formed - British & Commonwealth Shipping Co. Ltd. by the merger of Union-Castle, Bullard King and Clan Lines. British & Commonwealth combined with South African Marine Corp. Ltd. in 1973 to become International Liner Services Ltd. but air travel was rapidly replacing ships and by 1982 the company had withdrawn from shipowning.

Routes:

  • 1900-1977 Southampton - Madeira - Cape Town - Port Elizabeth - Durban - Port Elizabeth - Cape Town - St.Helena (occasional) - Ascension (occasional) - Las Palmas (occasional) - Southampton.
  • 1900-1979 cargo service South Africa - USA (usually New York)
  • 1900-1908 London - Walvis Bay - Cape Town - Port Elizabeth - East London - Durban - Mauritius.
  • 1906-1939 cargo feeder service Southampton - London - Antwerp - Rotterdam - Bremen - Hamburg.
  • 1908-1910 London Walvis Bay - Cape Town - Port Elizabeth - East London - Durban - Dar-es-Salaam - Mombasa and reverse.
  • 1908-1914 Day excursions Cape Town - Simonstown (return by rail)
  • 1910-1914, 1919-1922 London - Suez - Mombasa.
  • 1910-1961 Round Africa service: London - Southampton - Gibraltar - Tangier (occasional) - Palma de Majorca (occasional) - Marseilles - Genoa/Naples - Tunis (occasional) - Suez - Port Sudan (occasional) - Aden - Mombasa - Zanzibar - Dar-es-Salaam - Beira - Lourenco Marques - Durban - East London - Port Elizabeth - Cape Town - Southampton. (and reverse)
  • 1910-1939 Southampton - Cape Town - Port Elizabeth - East London - Durban - Delagoa Bay - Lourenco Marques (occasional) - Mombasa.
  • 1920-1982 cargo service Continent - UK - South Africa - UK.
  • 1927-1949 Beira based feeder service: Zanzibar - Dar-es-Salaam - Inter ports - Beira - Durban.
  • 1947-1949 Southampton - Cape Town direct.
  • 1950-1959 London - Las Palmas - Ascension - St. Helena - Cape Town - Durban - Beira.
  • 1962-1967 London - Gibraltar - Genoa - Port Said - Port Suez - Aden - Mombasa - Zanzibar - Dar-es-Salaam - Beira - Durban - Lourenco Marques - Tanga - Naples - Marseilles - London.
  • 1964-1975 cruising.

Many thanks to Ted Finch for his 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 (on-site) ot the Immigrant Ship web site.

Funnel:
Red, black top.

Fleet:
for ships built before 1900 see Union SS Co. and Castle Line.

 
Union 1872-1900
Union-Castle 1900-1979
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Alnwick Castle 1901 1917 torpedoed and sunk 300 miles from Bishops Rock; loss of 40 lives. 5,893
Armadale Castle (2) 1903 1936 scrapped. 12,973
Aros Castle 1901 1917 torpedoed and sunk 300 miles W of Bishops Rock. 4,460
Arundel Castle (4) 1921 1958 scrapped. 19,023
Athlone Castle 1934 1965 scrapped. 25,564
Balmoral Castle (2) 1910 1939 scrapped. 13,361
Balmoral Castle (3) 1965 ex- Clan Robertson, 1976 renamed Balmoral Castle, 1979 renamed Balmoral Universal, 1982 sold to Greece, renamed Psara Reefer. 7,952
Bampton Castle 1920 1932 sold to Greece, renamed Atlantis. 6,698
Banbury Castle 1918 ex- Glenstrae, 1920 purchased from Glen Line, renamed Banbury Castle, 1931 sold to Greece, renamed Rokos. 6,430
Bellona 1901 1912 tender at Algoa Bay, 1912 wrecked Cape Hangklip. 117
Berwick Castle 1902 1919 burnt out at Mombasa, sold to Italy. 5,883
Bloemfontein Castle 1950 1959 sold to Greece, renamed Patris. 18,400
Braemar Castle (2) 1943 ex- Empire Duchess, 1949 purchased from Ministry of Transport, renamed Braemar Castle, 1950 transferred to King Line, renamed King James, 1958 sold to Hong Kong, renamed Tyne Breeze. 7,067
Braemar Castle (3) 1952 1966 scrapped. 17,029
Bratton Castle 1920 1931 sold to Greece, renamed Proteus. 6,696
Capetown Castle 1938 1967 scrapped. 27,000
Carlisle Castle 1913 ex- Holtye, 1915 purchased from F.S. Holland & Co., London, renamed Carlisle Castle, 1918 torpedoed and sunk in English Channel. 4,325
Carlow Castle 1917 1930 sold to Mitchell, Cotts & Co., renamed Cape St. Columba. 5,833
Carnarvon Castle (2) 1926 1963 scrapped. 20,122
Cawdor Castle 1902 1926 went ashore South West Africa total loss. 6,235
Chepstow Castle 1913 ex- Anglo-Brazilian, 1915 purchased from Nitrate Producers Ltd., renamed Chepstow Castle, 1933 scrapped. 7,494
Cluny Castle (3) 1903 1924 transferred to Bullard King, renamed Umkuzi. 5,147
Comrie Castle 1903 1924 transferred to Bullard King, renamed Umvoti. 5,167
Corfe Castle 1901 1927 sold to W. Schuchmann, Hamburg, renamed Ostee. 4,592
Crawford Castle 1910 ex- Hova, 1917 purchased from F.S. Holland, London, renamed Crawford Castle, 1930 sold to W. Kunstmann, Stettin, renamed Victoria W. Kunstmann. 4,264
Dover Castle (2) 1904 1917 torpedoed and sunk in Mediterranean while hospital ship. 8,271
Dover Castle (3) 1964 ex- Clan Ranald, 1976 renamed Dover Castle, 1979 renamed Dover Universal, 1981 sold to Greece, renamed Golden Sea. 7,950
Drakensburg Castle 1945 ex- Empire Allenby, 1946 purchased from Ministry of Transport, renamed Drakensburg Castle, 1959 scrapped. 9,905
Dromore Castle 1919 launched as War Poplar, completed as Dromore Castle, 1942 mined and sunk off River Humber. 5,242
Dunbar Castle (2) 1930 1940 mined and sunk off Ramsgate. 10,002
Dundrum Castle 1919 1943 caught fire and sank in Red Sea. 5,259
Dunluce Castle (2) 1904 1939 sold for scrapping but purchased by the Admiralty for use as accommodation ship. 8,114
Dunnottar Castle 1936 1958 sold to Incres SS Co, Monrovia, renamed Victoria. 15,002
Dunvegan Castle (2) 1936 1940 torpedoed and sunk off Ireland; loss of 27 lives. 15,007
Durban Castle 1938 1962 scrapped. 17,382
Durham Castle 1904 1939 acquired by the Admiralty for accommodation ship, 1940 mined and sunk off Cromarty. 8,217
Edinburgh Castle (2) 1910 1940 sold to Admiralty as accommodation ship at Freetown, 1945 scuttled. 13,326
Edinburgh Castle (3) 1947 1976 scrapped. 28,700
Edinburgh Universal 1979 ex- Polar Honduras (Hamburg-Sud), 1981 leased from Barclays Mercantile Finance Co renamed Edinburgh Universal, 1984 transferred to Hong Kong renamed Caspian Universal. 9,996
Eider 1900 1926 purchased from Royal Mail SP Co., Southampton - Bremen - Hamburg feeder service, 1936 sold to J. Billmeir, renamed Stanhill. 1,236
Galway Castle 1911 1918 torpedoed and sunk near Plymouth; loss of 143 lives. 7,988
Garth Castle (2) 1910 1939 scrapped. 7,612
Glenart Castle   see Galician, Union SS Co.  
Glengorm Castle   see German, Union SS Co.  
Gloucester Castle 1911 1942 sunk by German commerce raider off Ascension; loss of 93 lives. 7,999
Good Hope Castle (1) 1945 ex- Empire Life, 1946 purchased from Ministry of Transport, renamed Good Hope Castle, 1959 scrapped. 9,905
Good Hope Castle (2) 1965 1978 sold to Italy, renamed Franca C. 10,500
Gordon Castle 1901 1924 scrapped. 4,408
Grantully Castle (2) 1910 1939 scrapped. 7,612
Guildford Castle 1911 1933 beached after collision in Elbe with Blue Funnel Line's STENTOR. Total loss. 7,995
Hansa 1904 1907 transferred from Liverpool-Hamburg Line, 1937 sold to J. Billmeir, renamed Stanray. 880
Helius 1888 ex- Dresden, (North German Lloyd) 1903 purchased by Houston Line, renamed Helius, 1904 purchased by Union-Castle, 1906 sold to Turkey, renamed Tirimujghian. 4,579
Incomati 1920 1924 purchased from Portuguese Government, East Africa feeder service, 1928 sold to Portugal. 340
Iolaire 1902 Sir Donald Currie's yacht, used as officer cadet training ship. 1914-1918 HMS Iolaire anti submarine patrol ship, 1939 became HMS Persephone, 1948 scrapped. 999
IPU 1905 1915 purchased from Brazil, East Africa coastal service, 1923 sold to Glendinning SS Co., London, renamed Chyko. 686
Kenilworth Castle (2) 1904 1936 scrapped. 12,975
Kenilworth Castle (3) 1944 ex- Empire Wilson, 1946 purchased from Ministry of Transport, renamed Kenilworth Castle, 1968 scrapped. 9,916
Kenya Castle 1951 1967 sold to Greece, renamed Amerikanis. 17,040
Kinnaird Castle 1956 ex- Clan Ross, ex- South African Scientist, renamed Kinnaird Castle, 1962 reverted to Clan Line, 1969 transferred to King Line, 1975 sold to Panama, renamed Nazeer. 7,718
Kinpurnie Castle (1) 1954 ex- Clan Stewart, ex- South African Sculptor, 1961 transferred from Safmarine (S.A Marine Corp) renamed Kinpurnie Castle, 1967 sold to Panama, renamed Hellenic Med. 8,121
Kinpurnie Castle (2) 1966 ex- Clan Ross, 1976 transferred from Houston Line, renamed Kinpurnie Castle, 1979 renamed Kinpurnie Universal, 1982 sold to Greece, renamed Syros Reefer. 7,950
Koodoo (2) 1924 tug at East London, 1937 sold to South African Railways. 119
Leasowe Castle 1917 1918 torpedoed and sunk in Mediterranean while trooping; loss of 92 lives. 8,106
Llandaff Castle 1926 1942 torpedoed and sunk off Zanzibar while trooping. 10,786
Llandovery Castle (1) 1914 1918 torpedoed and sunk while hospital ship west of Fastnet. 234 lives lost when U. Boat shelled the lifeboats. 10,639
Llandovery Castle (2) 1925 1953 scrapped. 10,640
Llangibby Castle 1929 1954 scrapped. 11,951
Llanstephan Castle 1914 1952 scrapped. 11,348
Lochgair 1888 1901 acquired as tender at Port Elizabeth, 1905 sold to J.G. Stewart, Glasgow, renamed Loch Gair (two words) 111
Machrie 1900 S.A. coastal service, 1905 sold to Hamilton, Tenerife. 251
Newark Castle 1902 1908 went ashore Zululand total loss. 6,224
Pendennis Castle 1958 1976 sold to Philippines (Panama flag), renamed Ocean Queen. 28,582
Polglass Castle 1903 ex- Reichenfels, (Hansa Line) 1914 captured by Britain, 1916 managed by Union-Castle renamed Polglass Castle, 1921 sold to Hansa Line, renamed Reichenfels. 4,631
Pretoria Castle (1) 1939 1942 sold to Admiralty rebuilt as aircraft carrier, 1946 re-purchased by Union-Castle, renamed Warwick Castle (4), 1962 scrapped. 17,383
Pretoria Castle (2) 1948 1966 transferred to South African Marine Corp., renamed S.A.Oranje, 1975 scrapped. 28,705
Reina Del Mar 1956 (ex-Pacific Steam Nav. Co), 1964-1973 chartered by Union-Castle for cruising, 1973 purchased by Union-Castle, 1975 scrapped. 20,263
Rhodesia Castle 1951 1967 scrapped. 17,041
Richmond Castle (1) 1938 1942 torpedoed and sunk in North Atlantic. 7,798
Richmond Castle (2) 1944 1971 scrapped. 7,971
Riebeeck Castle 1946 1971 scrapped. 8,322
Ripley Castle 1917 ex- War Soldier, 1919 purchased from shipping controller, renamed Ripley Castle, 1931 scrapped. 7,521
Rochester Castle 1937 1970 sold to Cyprus, renamed Glenda and scrapped. 7,795
Roslin Castle (3) 1935 1967 scrapped. 7,016
Rosyth Castle 1918 ex- War Earl, 1919 purchased from shipping controller, renamed Rosyth Castle, 1920 transferred to Bullard King & Co., renamed Umlazi. 4,328
Rotherwick Castle (2) 1959 1975 sold to Liberia, renamed Sea Fortune. 9,650
Rothesay Castle (1) 1935 1940 went ashore on Scottish coast, total loss. 7.016
Rothesay Castle (2) 1960 1975 sold to Uruguay, renamed Laura. 9,650
Rovuma 1927 1949 East Africa coastal service, 1949 sold to Colonial SS Ltd, Mauritius, renamed Floreal. 1,289
Rowallan Castle (1) 1939 1942 bombed and sunk in Mediterranean. 7,798
Rowallan Castle (2) 1943 1971 scrapped. 7,950
Roxburgh Castle (1) 1937 1943 torpedoed and sunk in North Atlantic. 7,801
Roxburgh Castle (2) 1944 1971 scrapped. 8,003
Rustenberg Castle 1946 1971 scrapped. 8,322
Sandgate Castle 1922 1937 caught fire and sank NE of Bermuda. 7,607
Sandown Castle 1921 1950 scrapped. 7,607
Southampton Castle 1965 1978 sold to Italy, renamed Paola C. 10,538
Stirling Castle (2) 1936 1966 scrapped. 25,550
Stirling Universal 1979 ex- Hilco Speedster (Larsen. Oslo), 1981 leased frpm Lombard Facilities Ltd, London renamed Stirling Universal, 1984 transferred to Hong Kong renamed Speedster Universal. 9,065
Stork 1905 tender at East London, 1942 sold to South African Government. 278
Tantallon Castle (3) 1953 1971 sold to Cyprus, renamed Aris II. 7,448
Tintagel Castle (2) 1954 1971 sold to Cyprus, renamed Armar. 7,447
Transvaal Castle   1961 - 1966 transferred to South African Marine Corp., renamed S.A. Vaal, 1977 sold to Carnival Cruise Line, Miami, renamed Festivale. 32,697
Walmer Castle (2) 1902 1932 scrapped. 12,546
Walmer Castle (3) 1936 1941 Southampton - Bremen - Hamburg feeder service, 1941 bombed and sunk in Atlantic while convoy rescue ship. 906
Warwick Castle (3) 1930 1942 torpedoed and sunk off Portugal. 20,445
Warwick Castle (4)   see Pretoria Castle (1)  
Winchester Castle (1) 1930 1960 scrapped. 20,109
Winchester Castle (2) 1964 ex- Clan Ramsey, 1977 - 1979 built in 1964, 1977 renamed Winchester Castle, 1979 renamed Winchester Universal, 1980 sold to Greece, renamed Lady Madonna. 7,950
Windsor Castle (2) 1915 1943 sunk in air attack off Algiers. 18,967
Windsor Castle (3) 1960 1977 sold to J. Latsis, Piraeus, renamed Margarita L. 37,640
York Castle 1901 1924 sold to Italy, renamed San Terenzo. 5,517

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