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The Fleets

Nourse Line

Formed by Capt. James Nourse in 1861 at Greenock, but transferred to London in 1864. Many of the company's early voyages were between Calcutta and Australian ports but Nourse soon entered the India to the West Indies trade carrying indentured labour for the plantations. Standards aboard the ships were high and the native passengers were said to be in better health when they arrived than when they left India. The general route for the fleet was to leave a European port with a cargo of salt or railway iron for Calcutta. From there a cargo of rice and a party of coolies were picked up for the West Indies, followed by a passage to the east coast of North America where grain or case oil was loaded for Europe. An occasional ship would sail back direct to Calcutta from the West Indies with coolies who had completed their contract of employment. Other voyages were made from Calcutta to Mauritius or to the Fiji Islands with labour for the sugar plantations. Voyages to Fiji usually returned to Calcutta via Australia with cargoes of coal. It wasn't until 1904 that the company took delivery of their first steamship having persevered with sail, mainly for economic reasons and the lack of coaling facilities between India and the West Indies. In 1917 P & O Line purchased a controlling interest in the company, but there was no obvious change. In 1932 the majority interest passed to British India S.N. Co., but by 1955 the entire holding passed back to P & O. The trade between India and the West Indies gradually declined in the 1950s and several of the company's ships spent long periods on charter to other P & O group fleets. By 1965 the company had diversified into tramp shipping and amalgamated with Hain Line to form Hain-Nourse Ltd.

Many thanks to Ted Finch for his assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

Buff with black top and red neptune's crown


    Sailing Ships  
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Adamant 1858 barque, 1865-1873 chartered from T. O. Harrison, London. 815
Allanshaw 1874 ship, 1880 purchased from Lamont & Co., Glasgow, 1893 wrecked on Tristan da Cunha; loss of 3 lives. 1,674
Arno 1893 ship, 1910 sold to Norway. 1,825
Avoca 1885 ship, 1895 caught fire at sea and abandoned, later boarded and scuttled. 1,703
Avon 1884 ship, ex- Dunolly, 1890 purchased from J. Brown, Glasgow renamed Avon, 1907 sold to River Plate Shipping Co., Montreal. 1,549
Bann 1875 ship, 1904 sold to O. D. Ahlers, Bremen renamed Hildegard. 1,719
Boyne 1877 ship, 1882 re-rigged as barque, abandoned in heavy weather in Bay of Biscay, but towed to Falmouth. 1886 stranded near False Point on voyage Fiji - Calcutta. 1,403
British Peer 1865 ship, 1883 purchased from British Shipowners Co., 1896 wrecked in Saldanha Bay; loss of 14 lives. 1,230
Clyde 1894 ship, 1906 sold to M & G. R. Clover, London after grounding damage on Cape Hatteras, resold to Norway. 1,813
Danube 1890 ship, 1892 went missing on voyage Guadeloupe - New York. 1,459
Elbe 1887 ship, 1907 scrapped. 1,693
Ems 1893 ship, 1910 sold to Tonsberg Whaling Co, Norway. 1,829
Erne (1) 1886 ship, 1908 sold to River Plate Shipping Co, Montreal. 1,692
Forth 1894 ship, 1910 sold to Norway. 1,829
Foyle (1) 1874 ship, 1903 sold to Norway renamed Jarlen. 1,662
Ganges (1) 1861 ship, 1881 wrecked on Goodwin Sands off Kent; loss of 3 lives. 839
Ganges (2) 1882 barque, 1904 sold to Norway. 1,529
Grecian 1868 ship, 1883 chartered from W. Orr and others, London, 1889 re-rigged as barque, 1896 wrecked off Montserrat (1 survivor) 1,332
Hereford 1869 ship, 1882 purchased from Currie, Thomson & Blythe, Melbourne, 1898 sold to Norway. 1,510
India 1861 ship, 1865 purchased from Cowie & Co., Liverpool, 1874 sold to R. M. Dunlop & Co., Glasgow. 912
Indus (1) 1866 ship, 1873 went missing at sea with cargo of rice and party of coolies. 966
Jorawur 1849 ship, 1873 chartered from Fleming & Mair, London, 1886 arrived Port Elizabeth having been dismasted at sea, sold and hulked. 1,788
Jumna (1) 1867 ship, 1898 sold to Norway. 1,048
Lee 1878 ship, 1882 wrecked on Areas Island, West Indies. 1,485
Lena 1875 ship, ex- Baron Colonsay, 1891 purchased from J. Neill, Greenock renamed Lena, 1906 sold to Italy. 1,709
Liffey 1876 ship, 1877 wrecked on Maldive Islands. 1,402
Main 1884 ship, 1908 laid up at Hamburg, 1910 sold to Norway renamed Vanse. 1,691
Mersey 1894 ship, 1908 sold to White Star Line for use as a cadet training ship. 1,829
Moy 1885 ship, 1905 went missing on voyage Demerara - Liverpool. 1,697
Neva 1869 ship, 1887 went missing at sea on voyage Banjoewangi to Lisbon.
Rhine 1886 ship, 1907 sold to R. C. Williams, Sackville, New Brunswick. 1,691
Rhone 1875 ship, ex- Gilroy, 1889 purchased from Gilroy, Sons & Co., Dundee renamed Rhone, 1905 sold to Norway renamed Dvbvaag. 1,768
Shannon 1883 ship, 1885 went missing on voyage London - Calcutta. 1,690
Stockbridge 1869 ship, 1872 purchased from G. Stanton, London, 1880 abandoned off Cornish coast. 1,539
Syria 1868 ship, 1884 wrecked off Suva with heavy loss of life. 1,072
The Bruce 1866 ship, 1880 purchased from British Shipowners Co, 1889 re-rigged as barque, 1891 capsized in New York harbour, salvaged and became a coal hulk. 1,200
Volga (1) 1887 ship, 1890 wrecked in Torres Strait. 1,698
Volga (2) 1891 ship, 1893 wrecked St. Lucia. 1,817
Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
Betwa (1) 1917 1927 sold to Bank Line (Andrew Weir & Co), Glasgow renamed Surat. 3,819
Betwa (2) 1950 1965 sold to British India S.N. Co. renamed Sirsa. 6,722
Bhima 1939 1942 torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine; no loss of life. 5,280
Chenab 1911 1930 sold to Khedivial Mail SS Co., Alexandria, converted to passenger ship. 3,549
Dewa 1913 1916 sunk by U-Boat off Malta; loss of 3 lives. 3,802
Erne (2) 1962 tanker, 1965 transferred to Hain-Nourse Ltd, 1969 transferred to Trident Tankers Ltd. 14,244
Ganges (3) 1906 1928 sold to F. B. Saunders, London. 3,475
Ganges (4) 1930 1942 sunk by Japanes planes and warships off Vizagapatam, India; loss of 15 lives. 6,246
Ganges (5) 1950 1965 sold to St. Merryn Shipping Co, London renamed Shirley Christine. 6,724
Hughli (1) 1894 tug for use on River Hughli, Calcutta. 1908 sold to R. A. Grech, London. 513
Hughli (2) 1913 ex-Valencia (Hamburg Amerika Line), 1920 war reparations renamed Hughli, 1927 sold to Bank Line (Andrew Weir & Co) renamed Tinhow. 5,232
Hughli (3) 1943 1960 sold to Red Anchor Line, London renamed Nancy Dee. 6,589
Indus (2) 1904 1904 captured and sunk by German cruiser EMDEN. 3,393
Indus (3) 1940 1942 sunk by German raider THOR in Indian Ocean; loss of 23 lives. 5,187
Indus (4) 1954 1965 transferred to Hain-Nourse Ltd, 1969 sold to Panama renamed Spiliada. 7,049
Jhelum 1936 1941 torpedoed and sunk by U-Boat in Atlantic; loss of 8 lives. 4,038
Johilla 1937 1960 sold to Hong Kong renamed Singapore Pearl. 4,042
Jumna (2) 1929 1940 sunk in Atlantic by German cruiser ADMIRAL HIPPER; loss of 108 lives. 6,078
Jumna (3) 1962 1965 transferred to Hain-Nourse Ltd, 1972 transferred to P & O. 9,890
Kallada 1946 1964 sold to St. Merryn Shipping Co, London renamed Merryn Elizabeth. 6,607
Marjata 1946 1963 sold to Red Anchor Line, London renamed Denny Rose. 6,652
Megna (1) 1916 1935 sold to Atlanticos SS Co., Piraeus (Kulukundis Bros) after grounding damage at Havana renamed Mount Atlas. 5,603
Megna (2) 1944 1959 sold to Italy renamed Enrico M. 6,595
Mutlah (1) 1907 1920 sold to Italy after catching fire at Naples. 3,499
Mutlah (2) 1947 1963 sold to Liberia renamed Delwind. 6,652
Saugor 1928 1941 torpedoed and sunk by U-Boat in Atlantic; loss of 59 lives. 6,303
Sutlej (1) 1908 1929 sold to Sun Shipping Co., London renamed Cape St. Francis. 3,549
Sutlej (2) 1940 1944 torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine in Indian Ocean; loss of 50 lives. 5,189
Tapti (1) 1914 ex- Ulm (Deutsche-Australische Line), 1920 war reparations, renamed Tapti, 1937 sold to Williamson & Co, Hong Kong renamed Leana. 4,743
Tapti (2) 1945 1951 grounded on Soy Rocks, Hebrides, later slipped off and sank. 6,618
    Managed Ship  
Foyle (2) 1961 tanker, 1964 management transferred to Trident Tankers Ltd renamed Megna. 24,549

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