PortCities London

The Company

The General Steam Navigation Company was founded in 1824, and became London's foremost short-sea shipping line for a century and a half. The GSNC experimented with services to Portugal, Gibraltar, and even Africa and the Americas at times, but it specialised in links with the ports of Britain and north west Europe. It also led the way in providing pleasure cruises between London and resorts lower down the Thames.

With the emergence of the huge shipping lines, it was inevitable that one would show an interest in the GSNC sooner of later. P&O bought a controlling stake in 1920, but allowed the GSNC to retain its identity.

However, the growth of air travel and the disappearance of general cargo vessels in the 1960s took away most of the GSNC's business, and the firm folded in 1972.


The GSNC house flag.

The GSNC house flag.

GSNC earthenware bowl.

GSNC earthenware bowl.

The GSNC's house flag emphasised the line's great age - it predated all the major international lines. Despite the globe, however, the GSNC excelled in short-sea routes out of London.

Like the well-known international shipping lines, the GSNC was a distinctive brand, and emphasised its identity by using branded artefacts such as this earthenware bowl.
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Ships of the General Steam Navigation Company. The 'Triton'... lying off the Company's Works, Deptford Creek.

Ships of the General Steam Navigation Company. The 'Triton'... lying off the Company's Works, Deptford Creek.

Ships of the General Steam Navigation Company, off Brunswick Wharf, Blackwall.

Ships of the General Steam Navigation Company, off Brunswick Wharf, Blackwall.

A picture of the steamship 'Triton' (1845). The General Steam Navigation Company Works are shown in the distance. The General Steam Navigation Company ran passenger services from London to the east of England coastal ports; Leith (Edinburgh); Bordeaux (France) and Mediterranean ports.

The vessels shown are the 'Clarence' of 800 tons, leaving for Leith, the 'Leith' of 1000 tons arriving from Leith, and the 'Columbine' of 500 tons arriving from Rotterdam, with the mail. The General Steam Navigation Company, founded in 1824, specialised in links with British and north European ports.
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The GSNC's Freight Hall.

The GSNC's Freight Hall.

The GSNC's premises at Deptford.

The GSNC's premises at Deptford.

The grand Freight Hall of the GSNC's offices at 15 Trinity Square in the City of London.

The GSNCs premises at the Stowage, on the western side of Deptford Creek, with one of the company's paddle steamers moored alongside. The GSNC bought land at the Stowage in 1825, and maintained a small fitting out yard there until the 1970s. In the background are the buildings of Deptford Power Station.
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   Back to The GSNC's pleasure boats
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