House flag, Ben Line

The house flag of Ben Line, Edinburgh. A white rectangular flag with broad red border and a blue anchor in the centre. The flag is made of a wool and synthetic fibre bunting. It has a cotton hoist and is machine sewn. A rope and toggle is attached.

The company was founded in 1825 by two brothers Alexander and William Thomson who set up as shipbrokers in Leith. Their family had a background in the building trade and marble importation. With a declining demand for marble, Thomsons' ships exported coal to Canada and imported timber. From the 1850s the company began to explore routes to the Far East. The company took delivery of their first steamer in 1871 shortly after the opening of the Suez Canal. From the 1860s, the trade in Canadian timber trade ceased to be economical and was replaced by a steamer trade to the Baltic; this side of the business continued until 1927.

In 1919 Ben Line Steamers Ltd was formed, ending 'one ship accounting'. In 1972 Ben Line Ship Management Ltd was formed with Galbraith Wrightson Ltd as part of a diversification programme. During the 1970s the company also became involved in oil drilling, containerisation and chemical transport. In 1991, it combined with East Asiatic Co., Copenhagen, to run a weekly service to the Far East. The firm's role as a ship owner ended the following year when they sold all their remaining ships.

Object Details

ID: AAA0390
Collection: Textiles; Flags
Type: House flag
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Date made: circa 1955-67
People: Ben Line Steamers Ltd; Pope, Charles Meredyth William Thomson and Co, Leith
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Pope Collection
Measurements: flag: 1422.4 x 2082.8 mm

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