House flag, British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd

The house flag of the British India Steam Navigation Company Ltd, London. A white swallow-tailed burgee with a red saltaire. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting with a linen hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached.

Set up in 1856 by a Scottish firm of general merchants, Mackinnon, Mackenzie & Co., as the Calcutta and Burmah Steam Navigation Company to run a mail service between Rangoon and Calcutta. A new company was founded called the British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd in 1862 to run services from Calcutta and Bombay to Indian Ocean ports, using local coal and with a subsidy from the government of Bombay.

With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, BI began direct services between India and the UK, their routes eventually extending to East Africa, the Far East and Australasia. BI ships were used for trooping in most conflicts until the British Government changed over to air transport in 1960. In 1893, the original company chairman Sir William Mackinnon died. In 1914 BI amalgamated with P&O. The company suffered a loss of business as a result of Indian independence in 1947. It lost its separate identity with the reorganisation of P&O in 1971.

Object Details

ID: AAA0171
Collection: Textiles; Flags
Type: House flag
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Date made: circa 1951
People: British India Steam Navigation Company Limited; Pope, Charles Meredyth Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Pope Collection. Reproduced with kind permission of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
Measurements: Flag: 1676.4 mm x 2590.8 mm

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