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GSSSCo. ships

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These details are copied from the website at:
to whom greatful thanks are recorded.


BOSPHORUS iscs 445 gt 1849 Blackwall, London
Illustrated London News 1849


ARGO – iscs 1815 Gt 1853 Blackwall, London

Capt. H Parker & Frank C. Bowen's
"Mail and Passenger Steamships of the Nineteenth Century"

CROESUS – iscs 2700 gt 1853 Blackwall, London

          Capt. H. Parker & Frank C. Bowen's
"Mail and Passenger Steamships of the Nineteenth Century"

JASON – iscs 2,667 gt 1853 Blackwall, London

View of the stern
Illustrated London News 1854


GOLDEN FLEECE – iscs 2,785 gt 1854  Blackwall, London

Capt. H. Parker & Frank C. Bowen's
"Mail and Passenger Steamships of the Nineteenth Century"
THE PRINCE – icsc 2,710 gt 1854  Blackwall, London

Ilustrated London News  1854

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH – iscs 1825 gt 1852 London

Illustrated London News 1852
LADY JOCELYN – iscs 1824g 1854 London

Capt. H. Parker & Frank C. Bowen's
"Mail and Passenger Steamships of the Nineteenth Century"


CALCUTTA – iscs 1852gt 1854 Blackwall, London
(later converted to sail as  DARLING DOWNS)

'In a hurricane, off the Island of Mauritus'
Illustrated London News 1853

Ships details and fleet list taken from
John M. Maber’s “North Star to Southern Cross”,
( T. Stephenson & Sons Ltd., Prescot, Lancs. 1967)


HYDASPES - 2243 gt 1852 Blackwall, London

1852 built by C.J. Mare & Co., of Blackwall, London
1855 rebuilt 2,243gt
1857 sold to European & American Steam Shipping Company not renamed
1861 sold to East India & London Shipping Co., London not renamed
1868 sold to Park Bros and converted into a sailing ship
1880 sunk in collision in the English Channel.

Harbinger  1847  848 tons

Hellespont  1849  500 tons

Indiana  1852  1850 tons

Mauritius 1852  1850 tons

Propontis  1849  500 tons


The General Screw Steam Shipping Company was a British company established in 1848 by James Laming, who had for about 30 years owned sailing ships travelling between England and the Netherlands.


In late 1849 the company began a service from Liverpool to Gibraltar, Malta and Constantinople, using its new iron screw steamer the 500 ton Bosphorus. The similarly sized ships Hellespont and Propontis joined the Bosphorus on the service as soon as they were completed.

In 1850 the company secured the contract to carry the monthly mail between Plymouth and Cape Town for 30,000 a year. The Bosphorus initiated the service in December 1850 and reached Cape Town after a 40 day voyage, 5 days more than the period specified in the contract.

Following this, orders were placed with C.J. Mare and Company of Blackwall, London (builders of the earlier vessels) for the new ships Queen of the South, Lady Jocelyn, Indiana, Calcutta, Mauritius and Hydaspes.

In May 1852 an additional mail contract was secured, for the company to provide a monthly service between England and Madras and Calcutta, via Cape St. Vincent, Ascension Island, St. Helena, Cape Town, Mauritius and Ceylon.

The company also initiated a mail service between Cape Town and Durban, which had previously been either overland service which generally took about 3 weeks or carried by sailing ships. This service was undertaken by the Sir Robert Peel.[1]

Australian service

The Australian Royal Mail Steam Navigation Company began a mail service between England and Australia in June 1852 which proved so unreliable that their contract was withdrawn in April 1853, whereupon the General Screw Company (which had already despatched two steamships to Australia earlier in the year) stepped in with a regular service. Their new steamer, the 1800 ton Argo, sailed from Southampton on May 8, 1853[2] and reached Melbourne in 64 days, with one stop en route at Cape St. Vincent. She returned via Cape Horn and received considerable acclaim as the first steamer to circumnavigate the globe.

The company's Indian service had been a failure due to various causes, including mechanical problems causing steamers to break down, unexpected high costs and coal consumption, and disappointing passenger and cargo results. Therefore the service was withdrawn, the last sailing taking place on March 15, 1854.

Despite securing a short-term mail contract, the Australian service was withdrawn as well, the Argo sailing from Southampton on October 4 1854 on the last voyage. The company chartered its new and now superfluous ships Golden Fleece, Jason and The Prince to the government to carry troops to the Mediterranean.

American service

In March 1854 the Indiana inaugurated a new service for the company, from Le Havre and Southampton to New York under the management of Croskey and Company, agents for the American-owned Ocean Navigation Company which was then operating a monthly service between New York, Southampton and Le Havre. It was intended that Indiana and Mauritius should sail monthly between Le Havre, Southampton and New York, alternating with the American steamers to provide a combined weekly service from Southampton.

In July 1854 the company accepted a proposal by the government of Mauritius to operate a monthly service between Mauritius and Ceylon for 10,000 a year.[3]

Crimean War

All the company's ships were chartered as troop transports during the Crimean War from 1854 - 1855; three were lost to various causes. The Prince was destroyed during a hurricane in November 1854, the Mauritius was badly damaged due to fire while in drydock at Southampton in February 1855, and the Croesus was destroyed by fire in April of the same year.

Following the end of the war, the company sold its entire fleet to the European and American Steam Shipping Company in 1857.


  1. South Africa's Heritage: How Our Forefathers Lived, Worked and Played. Caltex (Africa) Ltd.. 1960.

  2. Percy, Sholto; Perry Fairfax Nursery (1853). "Trial Trip of the "Argo"". Iron (Knight and Lacey) 58: p. 353. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=L-k3AAAAMAAJ. 

  3. Coates, William Herbert; John Haskell Kemble (1969). The Good Old Days of Shipping. Cornmarket Press.


 pp. p. 60. 


    Lawson, Will (1927). Pacific Steamers. Brown, Son & Ferguson. 

    Maber, John M. (1980). Channel Packets and Ocean Liners, 1850-1970. HMSO. 

    Patterson, Alfred Temple (1975). A History of Southampton, 1700-1914. Southampton University Press. 

Retrieved 2013 from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Screw_Steam_Shipping_Company