Sunday, 5 August 2012
The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which is usually known as P&O, is a British shipping and logistics company which was founded in 1837. Mail contracts were the basis of P&O's prosperity until the Second World War, but the company also became a major commercial shipping line and passenger liner operator. In 1914, it took over the British India Steam Navigation Company, which was then the largest British shipping line, owning 131 steamers. In 1918, it gained a controlling interest in the Orient Line, its partner in the England- Australia mail route.Further acquisitions followed and the fleet reached a peak of almost 500 ships in the mid 1920s. In 1920, the company also established a bank, P&O Bank, that it sold in 1927. At this time it established a commercial relationship with Spinney's of Haifa, that developed into a major regional high-end grocery store chain, which eventually provided shipping services access to much of the Middle East. Read more on Wikipedia
Lowry refers to the company in his novel Ultramarine; "Outside, I found the crowd watching a ship come into the harbour. "P.& O. boat over there" - these comments provoke an argument over whether it is a P.& O. boat or a "British India boat". (Pg. 79) and "another dispute about a P.& O. boat.." (Pg.110).