The General Screw Steam Shipping Company was a British company
James Laming, who had for about 30
years owned sailing ships travelling between England and the
In late 1849 the
company began a service from
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
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.
orders were placed with
C.J. Mare and Company of
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
Cape St. Vincent,
Cape Town, Mauritius and
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.
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so unreliable that their contract was withdrawn in April 1853, whereupon the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
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.
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Therefore the service was withdrawn, the last sailing taking place on
a short-term mail contract, the Australian service was withdrawn as well,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
In March 1854
the Indiana inaugurated a new service for the company, from
Le Havre and
New York under the management of Croskey and Company, agents for the
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
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.
end of the war, the company sold its entire fleet to the
European and American Steam Shipping Company
Heritage: How Our Forefathers Lived, Worked and Played. Caltex
(Africa) Ltd.. 1960.
Percy, Sholto; Perry
Fairfax Nursery (1853). "Trial
Trip of the "Argo"". Iron (Knight and Lacey) 58: p.
Herbert; John Haskell Kemble (1969). The Good Old Days of Shipping.
pp. p. 60.
(1927). Pacific Steamers.
Brown, Son & Ferguson.
M. (1980). Channel Packets and Ocean Liners,
Alfred Temple (1975). A History of Southampton,
Southampton University Press.
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