Lamport and Holt Line, shipowners



From the Guide to the Records of Merseyside Maritime Museum, volume 1: Lamport and Holt Line, Founded in 1845 by W.L. Lamport from Workington and George Holt (elder brother of Alfred of Blue Funnel fame), this partnership owned wooden sailing vessels trading with North and South America, South Africa and India. After some tentative involvement with steamers with James Moss and Co. and Papayanni Brothers in the Mediterranean in the mid-1850s, two 1300-ton tramp steamers were bought in 1861 1862. The Liverpool, Brazil and River Plate Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. was successfully started in 1865 to run cargo, mail and passenger services from Liverpool, London, Antwerp and Glasgow. In 1869 it pioneered the Brazil New York coffee trade. In 1874 (the year of Lamport's death; Holt lived until 1896), no less than twelve new ships had been delivered or were building; the firm became a limited company and a Belgian subsidiary was created. Sailings were extended to Valparaiso in the 1880s (given up in 1896) and frozen meat transport from the River Plate was started in 1886. Live cattle were still carried and in 1898 five large (5555-ton) purpose built ships were ordered. In 1902 a New York South American passenger service was started with two second hand ships and proved so successful that large new luxury liners were ordered. In 1910 three further (of over 10,000-tons) vessels built to a similar standard were ordered for the Liverpool route. This stimulated its biggest rival (Royal Mail) to take it over in 1911. At the outbreak of war in 1914 Lamport owned thirty-six ships of 200,000 tons, eleven of which were sunk. It reverted to cargo (especially frozen meat) as its staple trade except for the New York passenger business. But this was virtually wiped out by the bad publicity from the sinking of Vestris in 1928 and the 1929 Crash. Lamport collapsed along with the rest of Kylsant's Royal Mail group, was reconstituted in 1934, and sold to the Vestey Group (Blue Star Line) in 1944. It survived as a separate company until 1974. The last ship to operate under Lamport colours was the container ship Churchill. For further details see the attached catalogue or contact The Archives Centre for a copy of the catalogue and for further material see B/LAH(A), MMM.2005.53.