House flag, China Navigation Co. Ltd

The house flag of The China Navigation Co. Ltd, London, owned by John Swire & Sons Ltd. A rectangular flag quartered diagonally into white and red with a blue vertical stripe across the centre. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope is attached. The pattern has been in use from 1870 and is still used today by the Swire family, The China Navigation Co. Ltd and The Swire Group.

The shipping company was founded by John Samuel Swire and William Hudson Swire acting as importers and shipping cargo agents. They handled cotton from the US and wool from Australia. When the south was blockaded during the American civil war, the Swires shifted their business to the import of silk and tea from China. The China Navigation Company Limited was floated on the stock market in 1872 to trade up the Yangtse from Butterfield & Swire's Shanghai base. They lost the Chinese coastal and Yangtse trade when communist rule was established in China after the Second World War.

Company headquarters were moved to Hong Kong in 1947 and operations were shifted to routes from the Far East to Indonesia and Australia. In 1974, Butterfield & Swire were replaced by John Swire & Sons, Ltd London who were appointed as managers. The company now part of The Swire Group, are still in operation running liner services in the Pacific and involved in charter operations worldwide.

Object Details

ID: AAA0193
Collection: Textiles; Flags
Type: House flag
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Date made: circa 1951
People: The China Navigation Co. Ltd; Pope, Charles Meredyth John Swire & Sons Ltd
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Pope Collection. Reproduced with kind permission of John Swire & Sons Ltd.
Measurements: flag: 635 x 1117.6 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.