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.