'It must always be remembered that passengers pay their fare with the

expectation of being more (not less) comfortable and better (not worse)

looked after than they are in their own homes.

It is the Company's aim to see that these expectations are fulfilled.'


P&O Regulations Instructions & Advice for Officers in The Service of The Company


Ball On Shipboard by James Tissot, 1874


"If you are ever shipwrecked, my dearest Laura, do contrive to get the catastrophe conducted by the Peninsular and Oriental Company.

I believe other companies drown you sometimes…"  A Mrs Dulcimer writing  in 1863, after the ss Colombo ran aground in the Arabian Sea.


Sailing Day

Boarding Ship, by James Tissot, 1874 - (included because I love his work!)

The ss Rome, departs Royal Albert Dock, London in 1866

A VIP's send-off for the Governor General

Off to Australia!

All aboard!

ss Mooltan 1927, members of the English hockey team

Three lady passengers, ss Mongolia, 1932

Off to the Delhi Durbar - the Viceroy's guests leaving Tilbury on board the ss Arabia in 1911. Drawn by John H Bacon for the weekly newspaper, The Black & White.

ss Ballarat, 1923

There is a great sadness and melancholy in their faces, as they set off for the other side of the world, unlikely to see their homes and loved ones again.

For many, a ship must have felt like a completely alien world.

Summed up, for me, by Ford Madox Brown, in his wonderful painting 'The Last of England', 1855.

The educated are bound to their country by quite other ties than the illiterate man, whose chief consideration is food and physical comfort for his family.

Underway ~ All at Sea

Down the river towards the open sea......

A turn on deck in the fresh air....

A bit of a blow in the Bay of Biscay...


Bible reading...

The Captain takes Sunday Service

From the Illustrated London News

The amateur photographer

Children's Activities

Deck Sports

Dinner is Served

Evening Entertainment

Ports of Call

Diving for coins in Malta

Diving for coins again....

Bartering in Bombay

Afternoon tea in Venice

Port Said - "Honest, lady: I give you special price!"

Cairo and the Pyramids beckon the traveller...

The Fairer Sex

"It is so much an instinct with the stronger sex to protect and look after the weaker, that in all cases of the sort, if there is a man at the head of affairs, he had better be left to manage matters without the hampering interference of feminine physical weakness."  Lillias Campbell Davidson, Hints to Lady Travellers, 1889

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when scheduled steamship travel cracked the world open for all kinds of passengers—even those of the weaker sex—the role of wives and daughters were assumed to be domestic first, and everything else never. A young lady was exhorted to guard her morals and her chastity, and to never bring a maid along unless she could afford to have the servant travel with her in first class. 

"In front of the ladies’ cabin was an ample balcony, sheltered by an awning; chairs and sofas were placed there, and even at that early season, nearly all the female passengers passed the whole day there." Frances Trollope, English novelist and writer, 1830.

"With little to do but sit on deck and watch the waves go by, waiting to change into their dinner clothes, the upper class female, travelling by steamship, became an icon of passive femininity, to be protected from all dangers, especially those posed by men."

James Fenimore Cooper 1824.

A Work-in-Progress

If you have photographs, suitable for inclusion, please do let me have them!


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