STIRLING CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1168grt, a length of 200ft 7in, and a beam of 33ft 8in. She was Donald Currie’s first ‘Castle’ and traded on the Liverpool – India – East Indies route. One of nine sisters who were referred to as the ‘Calcutta Castles’, the use of sailing ships beyond Cape Town was still preferable as the high cost of coal made cargo steamers uneconomical. In 1865 she was transferred to the London – Calcutta run until 1875 when she was sold following a management decision to concentrate on the Cape trade.
WARWICK CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1171grt, a length of 200ft 7in, and a beam of 33ft 8in. She entered service in May 1863 on the Liverpool – Calcutta run but transferred to London in 1865. In 1870 she was sold to James Chambers’ Lancashire Shipping Co. for their Liverpool – Calcutta and retaining her name. She was renamed Cimbria in 1890 when she was sold to A/S Cimbria, S. W. Brunn of Kolding in Denmark. By 1805 she was owned by P. L. V. Schiaffino of Genoa with the same name and was broken up in Italy during 1911.
ROSLIN CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1168grt, a length of 200ft 6in, and a beam of 33ft 8in. She entered service on the Liverpool to Calcutta run in July 1863 but by 1865 she was sailing out of London. When the Castle Mail Steam Packet Co. Ltd was incorporated in 1876 the sailing ships remained under the ownership of Donald Currie. She was sold to Charles Barrie & Co. of Dundee in 1883 for operation within their Dundee & Calcutta Line of Clippers, renamed London and reduced to a barque rig. On 29th February 1892 she was wrecked near Key West in Florida during a voyage from Pensacola to Rio de Janeiro.
PEMBROKE CASTLE (1) was built in 1863 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1171grt, a length of 208ft 2in, and a beam of 33ft 10in. She was delivered to Donald & Currie & Co. for the Liverpool to Calcutta service and transferred to the London to Calcutta service in 1865. In 1883 she was sold to Charles Barrie & Co. of Dundee, renamed Glasgow and reduced to a barque rig. On 25th December 1893 she was dismasted and abandoned of the Scilly Isles during a voyage from Carrizal in Chile to Middlesbrough.
ARUNDEL CASTLE (1) was built in 1864 by Robert Steel & Co. at Greenock as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1042grt, a length of 203ft, and a beam of 33ft 7in. Similar to the Stirling Castle she was delivered in September 1864 and transferred to London with the fleet in 1865. She was sold to Charles Barrie’s Dundee & Calcutta Line of Clippers in 1883, renamed Chittagong and reduced to a barque rig. In 1896 she was sold to J. A. Henshien of Lillesand and renamed Imperator. She was acquired by Mitchell & Cotts and Co. for use as a cola hulk at Durban after suffering storm damage in May 1901. Mitchell & Cotts were merchants, not shipowners, and the hulk was later moved to Cape Town for use by their British & African Shipping & Coal Co. In 1918 she was re-rigged as a barque for seagoing duties and because of her German name reverted to Chittagong. She was sold to C. E. Zalacosta of Piraeus in 1920, renamed Annitsa Zalacosta and finally broken up in Italy two years later.
KENILWORTH CASTLE (1) was built in 1864 by Robert Steel & Co. at Greenock as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1062grt, a length of 203ft, and a beam of 33ft 7in. Completed in 1864 she commenced her maiden voyage from Liverpool before moving round to London. She was wrecked in 1871.
TANTALLON CASTLE (1) was built in 1865 by Robert Steel & Co. at Greenock as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1057grt, a length of 203ft 2in, and a beam of 33ft 10in. She was delivered in March 1865 with registry in Liverpool but loading in London. In 1868 she broke the London – Calcutta record with a passage time of 80 days out and 78 days home. She carried the first group of Scottish farm workers to Cape Town in January 1877. In 1883 she was sold to Charles Barrie, renamed Dacca and reduced to a barque rig. She was purchased by K. Bruusgaard of Drammen in Norway in 1898, renamed Macca and was eventually broken up in 1912.
CARNARVON CASTLE (1) was built in 1867 by Barclay, Currie & Co. at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1200grt, a length of 229ft, and a beam of 36ft 2in. Similar to the Stirling Castle she was the first Currie ship to be registered in London as opposed to Liverpool. She was sold to Sinclair & Ellwood in 1889 and they operated her as ‘Sailing Ship Carnarvon Castle Co.’ In 1897 she was sold to Flugge, Johannsen & Libinus of Hamlburg who renamed her Nurnburg. By 1906 she was under the ownership of Sven, O Stray of Christiansand with the same name and was finally abandoned at sea in January 1910.
CARISBROOKE CASTLE was built in 1868 by Barclay, Currie & Co. at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1490grt, a length of 230ft 4in, and a beam of 37ft 8in. Delivered in September 1868 for the London to Calcutta run she became the fifth Currie ship to be sold to Charles Barrie of Dundee in 1889 and was renamed Errol. When she was sold with the Cluny Castle sail ownership came to an end. In 1900 she was acquired by A. P. Ulriksen of Mandal, retaining her name which she kept when she was sold again to Walker, Howard & Co. of London in 1904. On 18th June 1909 she was wrecked on Middleton Reef in the South Pacific.
DOVER CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2341grt, a length of 327ft 10in, a beam of 36ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. Delivered in January 1872 she was Donald Currie’s first steamship and the first of two pairs of sisters built in parallel at Glasgow. Although intended for the London – Cape Town – Calcutta service she was, on completion, chartered to the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. and undertook her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Callao in Peru via Cape Horn. A call at Cape Town was scheduled but a sufficient number of PSNC passengers made the visit unecessary. On the return voyage from Callao to Liverpool in the following July she caught fire near Coquimbo in Chile and was scuttled. Consequently she never saw service with the castle Line.
WALMER CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2446grt, a length of 327ft 10in, a beam of 36ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. Completed in April 1872 she was actually the second steamship to enter service after the Edinburgh Castle and was deployed on the London – Calcutta – China service returning with tea. She was transferred to Donald Currie’s Castle Mail Steam Packets Co. Ltd in 1876 and in 1879 was placed on the Intermediate service after a spell as an ‘extra steamer’ on the mail run. In 1880 she was sold to the Marques de Campo of Cadiz and renamed Valencia. As he held the mail contract between Cadiz and Manila in the Philippines she was placed on that service and was operated by his Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas. She was taken over with the other three ‘Tabacos’ steamers in 1884 when the mail contract was acquired by Cia Trasatlantica Espanoles, retaining her name and operating the same service. She finally ended her career in 1889 when she was sunk following a collision in the North Sea.
EDINBURGH CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2678grt, a length of 335ft 4in, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. With the Windsor Castle (1) she was the first of the second pair of sisters based on the design of the Dover Castle (1). After a maiden voyage to Calcutta she she became a mail steamer on the ‘Colonial Mail Service’ to the Cape. In 1876 she came under the ownership of Castle Mail Packets Co. but in 1880 was sold to the Marques de Campo and renamed Espana. She was sold again in 1884 to Cia.Trasatlantica for their Cadiz – Manila service and as she retained her name it meant that the company were operating two ships with the same name. In 1891 she transferred to the South American service until 1898 when she was sold to Armement Bonneroy of Marseilles. Renamed Espagne she was their one and only ship and only survived until 1899 when she was broken up at Marseilles.
(Photo: Nautical Photo Agency)
WINDSOR CASTLE (1) was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2678grt, a length of 335ft 4in, a beam of 37ft 2in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Edinburgh Castle she began service as a mail steamer on the Indian run; her maiden voyage being from Southampton to Calcutta which was completed in a record time. In May 1873 she broke the record for the run from Dartmouth to cape Town when the voyage was completed in 23 days. On 19th October 1876 she was wrecked on Dassen Island at the entrance to Cape Town bay without any loss of life. The ship broke up in the heavy swell within a week and the Stettin was transferred from the North Sea service to replace her.
ELIZABETH MARTIN was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1246grt, a length of 250ft 7in, a beam of 30ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was registered as being owned by A. Currie & Co.and named after Donald Currie’s mother. Referred to as the ‘Betty Martin’ she was deployed initially on the UK – Continent service. In 1877 she was transferred to the South African coastal service to replace the Gothland and in 1879 inaugurated the Cape Town to Mauritius service. She was sold to Panhellenic Steamship Co. of Piraeus in 1882 and renamed Athens. By 1891 her owners had changed their style to Nav. a Vapeur Panhellenic and she was renamed Samos. She became a war loss during 1915.
GOTHLAND was built in 1871 by J & G Thompson at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1482grt, a length of 251ft 7in, a beam of 32ft 10in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for Donald Currie’s Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. and was chartered by George Payne’s Cape & Natal S.N. Co.’s to carry private mails from London to the Cape. When the Cape & Natal Line was wound up in February 1872 she continued to carry Donald Currie’s private mails until replaced by the Walmer Castle (1) or one of her sisters. In 1876 she was transferred to the Liverpool Hamburg Line with the same name. She was purchased by the Admiralty in 1915 for use as a blockade ship but never used as such and in 1919 was sold to Claude Langton of London still retaining her original name. In 1922 she became the Trude Bremer under the ownership of Dampfsch, Reederie Friedrich Bremer of Rostock and was broken up in Germany during 1924. (Photo: Nautical Photo Agency)
ICELAND was built in 1871 by J & G Thompson at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1474grt, a length of 251ft 7in, a beam of 32ft 10in and a service speed of 9 knots. Sister of the Gothland she was built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. but chartered to the Cape & Natal Steam Navigation Co. in 1872 for their mail service. She sailed from Dartmouth on 25th January 1872 but before the voyage was completed the Cape & Natal went into liquidation. Persuaded to leave the two sisters on the mail run Donald Currie was given the opportunity to inaugurate his own mail service. However, by the next year she proved to be too small for the service and returned to North Sea trading after being replaced by the Walmer Castle trio. On 18th December 1876 she ran aground on Texel Island during a voyage from Liverpool to Hamburg and was a total loss.
LAPLAND was built in 1872 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1269grt, a length of 250ft 4in, a beam of 30ft and a service speed of 9 knots. Built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. she was actually used to carry Currie’s mail to South Africa before transferring to the South African coastal service. In 1882 she returned to the North Sea trade where she remained until 1902 when she was sold to Glen & Co. and renamed Shuna. She was sold to J. Philicas of Piraeus in 1906 and renamed Sofia M. Two years later she was purchased by M. Vernicos & Co. of Piraeus who retained her name. In 1911 she was sold to J. Cappolo of Constantinople (Istanbul) who renamed her Scutari and in the following year she returned to Vernicos who named her Varvara. On 9th May 1913 she ran aground on the Isle of Mull but was safely refloated and repaired. Purchased from the underwriters by D. Pavlatos & Co. of Piraeus she remained with them until 19th July 1917 when she was torpedoed by a U-boat in the Mediterranean.
COURLAND was built in 1872 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1241grt, a length of 250ft 5in, a beam of 32ft 2in and a service speed of 9 knots. Like her sisters she was built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co. but chartered to Donald Currie for use mainly around the South African coast. By 1875 she was owned by Donald Currie who kept her until 1895 when she was sold to Dada Abdoola & Co. of Durban, retaining her name and operating the same service. In 1901 she was sold to the Bombay Steam Navigation Co. for coastal services out of Bombay where she remained until 1925 when she was broken up locally, still with her original name.
DUNROBIN CASTLE was was built in 1875 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2811grt, a length of 342ft 4in, a beam of 38ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. She was the first genuine mail steamer for Donald Currie’s South African service and, on her maiden voyage, broke the Cape record by 12 hours. In 1876 she was transferred to the Castle Mail Steam Packets Co. Ltd. On 27th January 1879 she brought the first news to Britain about the Zulu victory at Isandhlwana, 110 miles northwest of Durban on the Buffalo River, when 18000 Zulus surprised four companies of the 24th Foot Regiment and virtually annihilated them when they killed some 800 men. Led by Cetawayo the Zulus lost 2000 warriors. In 1883 she was transferred to the Intermediate service and on 6th June 1892 was the first ocean-going ship to cross the newly dredged Durban bar and enter the inner port. She was sold to Armement Letocart & Cie of Marseilles in 1893 for the pilgrim run to Palestine and renamed Notre Dame de Salut . In the same year she was used as a hospital ship first in Madagasgar and then, in 1900, at the Boxer uprising in China. In 1902 she was sold to L. Bertreaux of Marseilles for their Palestine service with the name Etoile and was eventually broken up at Genoa in 1914. (Photo: A. Duncan)
BALMORAL CASTLE (1) was was built in 1876 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2948grt, a length of 344ft 10in, a beam of 39ft 5in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Dunrobin Castle she was the first ship to be built for the Castle Mail Steam Packets Co. Ltd and commenced service on the mail run in November 1876. By 1882 trade had slumped and she was sold to Cia. Trasatlantica, renamed San Augustin and deployed on the Barcelona – Cadiz – Tenerife – Havana service. On 16th June 1888, following a period on the Clyde for fire damage repairs, she rammed, cut in two and sank the Southampton, Isle of Wight & South of England R.M.S.P. Co’s paddle steamer Princess of Wales with the loss of three lives. The paddle steamer was undergoing trials on the Skelmorlie mile at the time. In 1892 she was sold to the Quebec Steam Ship Co. of London but flew the Canadian flag as the Madiana. On 10th February 1903, during a voyage from New York to Kingston in Jamaica with passengers and cargo, she was wrecked off Bermuda without loss of life.
DUBLIN CASTLE was was built in 1877 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2805grt, a length of 342ft 4in, a beam of 38ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. Sister of the Dunrobin Castle she was completed for the mail service in May 1877. In 1882 she was sold to Cia. Trasatlantica for their Havana to New York service and renamed Santo Domingo. During July 1898 she was wrecked off the Isla des Pinos near Cienfuegos in Cuba.
FLORENCE was built in 1865 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 616grt, a length of 219ft 5in, a beam of 25ft 6in and a service speed of 9 knots. Built for Leith, Hull & Hamburg S.P. Co’s Leith to Hamburg run she was acquired by Donald Currie in 1873 who lengthened and re-engined her before deploying her on the South African coastal service. She was sold to Idarei Massousieh in 1889 and renamed Kriti (Crete). In the following year the name was changed to Crete. In 1912 the Massousieh organisation was re-styled as the Navigation a Vapeur Ottomane and the ship renamed Guirrit and used in the Black Sea service until broken up in 1919.
(Photo: National Maritime Museum)
MELROSE was built in 1877 by Robert Steel & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 839grt, a length of 229ft 7in, a beam of 29ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was laid down as the Maritzburg but completed as the Melrose specifically for the coastal passenger ‘Royal Colonial Mail’ service. She was used by local businessmen for social voyages up and down the South Africa east coast ports. On 29th July 1883 she was the scene of a sensational crime. In May 1882 Lord Cavendish and Thomas Burke were stabbed and killed in Pheonix Park, Dublin. One of the six Fenians, members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood which had been established in 1858, turned Queen’s evidence and, as a result, the other five were publicly executed. Thomas Carey was a member of the ‘Invincibles’ and fellow members vowed to kill him. For his protection Carey and his family were secretly taken to South Africa aboard the Kinfauns Castle where, on arrival at Cape Town, they were transferred to the Melrose. Unbeknown to anybody, a member of the ‘Invincibles’, Patrick O’Donnell, had also shipped on the Kinfauns Castle and made friends with Carey who obviously didn’t know him. O’Connell shared a cabin with Carey on the Melrose and on 29th July 1883 shot him with fatal consequences. O’Connell was returned to London and, after being tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty ,was hanged on 17th December 1883. In 1887 Sir Donald Currie went to South Africa in the Melrose to inspect his coastal port installations. During 1890 she was the first Castle ship to experiment with burning South African coal but as it produced too much ash and clinker and was not used again until 1907. She was sold to S. Hough & Co. of Liverpool in 1894 and renamed Annie Hough for use on their Liverpool – Falmouth – London service. In 1901 she was sold to Bermond & Co. of Bordeaux and renamed Emyre. She was sold to Moinard & Rouxel of Diego Suarez in Madagasgar in 1905 and was eventually wrecked during May 1911.
TAYMOUTH CASTLE was built in 1877 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1827grt, a length of 300ft 1in, a beam of 33ft 10in and a service speed of 11 knots. Delivered for the mail service she was quarantined in Saldana Bay for six weeks at the end of her maiden voyage after smallpox broke out onboard. By 1879 she proved to be too small and was relegated to the role of ‘extra’ steamer until 1891 when she was sold to Sir Christopher Furness and then on to Pickford & Black of Halifax, Nova Scotia for the Government subsidised Canada – West Indies – Georgetown service. She retained her name until 1902 when it was changed to Ocama by the same owners and with London as the port of registry. In 1915 she flew the Canadian flag under the ownership of the Newport Steam Ship Co. with Continental Trading Co. of Halifax as managers and in 1918 was sold to William & Smith of Halifax where she remained until 1922 when she was scrapped.
DUART CASTLE was built in 1878 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1825grt, a length of 301ft 6in, a beam of 33ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. Virtually a sister of the Taymouth Castle she was delivered as the Adjutant for Seatter, White & Co. of Leith. She was acquired by the Castle Mail Packet Co. for use as an ‘extra’ steamer in 1879. In 1891 she was sold to Sir Christopher Furness who then sold her on to Pickford & Black without a change of name. Her name was changed in 1902 to Oruro with London as her port of registry. In 1915 she was owned by Bedford Steam Ship Co. with Continental Steam Ship Co. of Halifax as managers where she remained until 1920 when she was sold to Anglo-Indian Colonial Steam Ship Co. of London without changing her name. She was sold to Dandamia Khandwani & Co. of Bombay and by 1925 was owned by Maneckchand Jivraj & Co. who scrapped her locally.
WARWICK CASTLE (2) was built in 1877 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2957grt, a length of 348ft 11in, a beam of 39ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered for the mail service in May 1877 and on 23rd January 1889 inaugurated the Holland Direct Service. Aimed at tapping into the Dutch Afrikaans market she operated between London – Flushing – Cape Town continuing to do so until 1891 when she was transferred to the Intermediate service. In 1897 she was sold to the Booth Line where she was renamed Jerome and re-equipped with a triple expansion engine and new boilers. She was sold to the Turkish Government’s Administration de Nav a Vapeur Ottomane and renamed Kirasounde for their Black Sea resorts. In 1924 she was given the modern spelling of her name, Kiresson, and was broken up in 1926.
CONWAY CASTLE was built in 1877 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2966grt, a length of 349ft, a beam of 39ft 4in and a service speed of 12 knots. Similar to the Warwick Castle but with a different profile she was delivered for the mail service in September 1877. She became an Intermediate steamer in 1883 and on 10th May 1893 ran aground at Vatoumandry, 50 miles south of Tamatave in Madagasgar. On the following day she was abandoned and became a total loss.
STETTIN was built in 1854 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 759grt, a length of 222ft, a beam of 29ft 1in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was built for the Leith, Hull & Hamburg S.P. Co’s North Sea trade. In 1876 she was equipped with 50 emigrant berths and placed on the Cape route to replace the Windsor Castle which had been lost but reverted to her former route in 1879 when she herself was replaced by the Dunkeld, the emigrant berths being removed. She was re-engined with a triple expansion engine and had her yards removed in 1879 and continued in service until 1933 when she was broken up at Bo’ness, Firth of Forth..
DUNKELD was built in 1878 by Robert Napier & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1158grt, a length of 240ft 10in, a beam of 32ft 4in and a service speed of 10 knots. With the Venice and the Melrose she was designed for the Cape Town – Durban service. In 1891 she was sold to Compania Valenciana de Nav. of Valencia and renamed Alcirca. On 7th September 1915 she was sunk after being in a collision off Cabo Gata near Almeira in Spain.
VENICE was built in 1878 by Robert Steele & Sons at Glasgow with a tonnage of 511grt, a length of 173ft 8in, a beam of 24ft 7in and a service speed of 9 knots. She was delivered in April 1878 for Donald Currie’s Cape Town to Durban service. In 1888 she was sold to Donaldson & Sievewright of London without a change of name. She was sold in 1902 to A. Borges of Lourenço Marques (Maputu) and renamed Lusitano for the Lourenço Marques – Suez Canal – Lisbon service but was hulked locally in the same year.
KINFAUNS CASTLE (1) .was built in 1879 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3507grt, a length of 360ft 4in, a beam of 43ft and a service speed of 12 knots. She was delivered to D. Currie & Co., which was still the registered name of the company, was the first steel hulled ship ordered by the company and constructed for potential conversion into an Armed Merchant Cruiser. In 1883 she was sold to the Russian Volunteer Fleet at Odessa and renamed Moscva (Moskva) and in 1895 became the Russian training ship Proot (Prut), also based in Odessa. In 1909 she was converted into an operational minelaying training ship. On 29th October 1914 she was hit by gunfire from the German battlecruiser Goeben which had been temporarily renamed Sultan Selim off Cape Fiolen, Sevastopol and was scuttled to avoid capture. Ten days later the Sultan Selim was badly damaged by two mines laid by her victim .(A.Crisp)
GRANTULLY CASTLE (1) was built in 1879 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3489grt, a length of 359ft 7in, a beam of 43ft 10in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Kinfauns Castle she was built in iron rather than steel and joined the mail run in January 1880. In 1888 she became the first Castle ship to be fitted with refrigeration for fruit and carried 30 tons of grapes packed in cork dust. She was sold to Booth Line in 1896 and renamed Augustine (2). On 2nd October 1904 she rescued the crew of the Greek ship Clementine, owned by AG Vassiliadi of Syra, 24 miles west of Ushant. She was sold for £8250 in August 1912 and broken up by Harris & Co. at Falmouth, Cornwall. (Photo: Nautical Photo Agency)
GARTH CASTLE was built in 1880 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3537grt, a length of 365ft, a beam of 43ft 6in and a service speed of 12 knots. The first of two near sisters of the Kinfauns Castle she was named after Sir Donald Currie’s estate in Scotland. On 23rd July 1881 she hosted a dinner for leading personalities after a fleet review in Leith Roads. Transferred to the Intermediate service in 1890 she became surplus to requirements when the companies merged in March 1900. She was sold to Elder Dempster & Co. in 1901 for their Bristol to Jamaica service and in the July was chartered to Franco-Canadian Steam Navigation Co. for their Dunkirk – Bordeaux – Quebec run. In 1902 she was sold to Khedivial Mail Steamship & Graving Dock Co. of London and renamed Ismailia. She was sold on to Soc. Armatrice Radivo-Frausin of Trieste, renamed Brunette and broken up in Italy in 1923.
DRUMMOND CASTLE was built in 1881 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 3537grt, a length of 365ft, a beam of 43ft 6in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Garth Castle she was built for the mail run and, in 1892, had the distinction of carrying the first cargo of South African peaches in her ‘cold chambers’. She was transferred to the Intermediate service in 1894. On 28th May 1896 she sailed from Cape Town under the command of Capt. W.W. Pierce with 143 passenger and 103 crew. On 16th June she was lost at night and in poor visibility on Pierres Vertes Reef, Molene Island off Ushant. The sea was so calm that there were no breakers to warn the watch keepers that the ship was off course in the tide race. Earlier, the Werfa (C.H.W. Grassdorf, Cardiff) had sighted and logged the Drummond Castle as being off course. When the ship hit the reef the captain was under the impression that she was fast aground and ordered the lifeboats to be readied for lowering. In accordance with company policy for ships at sea the lifeboats were already slung out and all that was required was for the braces and belly bands to be removed. The captain also gave the order to let off steam in case of explosion. However, the ship was not fast and had overshot the reef. Within four minutes she had sunk before a lifeboat could be lowered and out of the 246 persons on board only three were saved, one passenger and two members of the crew. M. Alphonse Bertillon of the French Criminal Investigation Dept. was asked to investigate the scene and identified 51 of the 53 bodies recovered, receiving a gold medal from Queen Victoria for his efforts. In 1929, whilst searching for bullion aboard P&O’s Egypt which sank in 1922, the Italian salvage vessel Artigilio of Soc. Sorima found the hull of the Drummond Castle with a long gash in the hull from the keel to the waterline.
PEMBROKE CASTLE (2) was built in 1883 by Barrow Shipbuilding Co. at Barrow-in-Furness with a tonnage of 3936grt, a length of 400ft 2in, a beam of 42ft 7in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was actually purchased on the stocks, the only vessel built away from the Clyde prior to the merger, the first four masted steamship and the largest ship in the fleet at the time. On completion in July 1883 she undertook a shakedown cruise carrying dignitaries around Britain but also made a call at Copenhagen where the Tzar and other royalty were received on board. In service she replaced the Kinfauns Castle and was deployed on the Intermediate run and as a relief mailship. In June 1901 she was used as a coastal passenger and mailship following the loss of the Tantallon Castle. She was sold to the Turkish Government in 1906 and renamed Bezmi-Alem for use as a Black Sea and consular passenger ship to Trabzon. In August 1915 she was sunk by Russian warships off Samsoun in Turkey. (Photo: from UCPSC 01/01)
DOLPHIN was a tug built in 1883 with a tonnage of 49grt, a length of 76ft and a beam of 16ft. She was brought out from Southampton in 1883 and stationed at East London. In 1899 she was replaced by the larger Penguin and was sold to Clifford E. Knight of Cape Town in January 1900.
DOUNE CASTLE (1)/DUNBAR CASTLE (1) was built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2682grt, a length of 335ft, a beam of 38ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was laid down as the Doune Castle but when it was discovered that the staff pronounced the name in a variety of ways the name was changed to Dunbar Castle. The same problem obviously didn’t arise when the Doune Castle (2) was launched seven years later. When delivered she was already too small for the growing trade and was used as an extra steamer, mainly on the Mauritius service. In 1895 she was sold to Fairfield Ship Building and Engineering Co. in part payment for the Tantallon Castle, renamed Olympia and re-sold to R. Barnwell of London. Two years later she was acquired by the Scottish American Steam Ship Co. of Glasgow with Sir W. G. Pearce as manager and later by W. M. Rhodes for use in the USA as the Northern Pacific Steamship Line. In 1898 when war with Spain was declared, she was sold to the North America Mail Steam Ship Co. of Tacoma for operation of the Tacoma (terminal of the Northern Pacific railway Co.) – Victoria – Yokohama – Hong Kong – in parallel with the Canadian Pacific service out of Vancouver. By 1903 she was owned by the North Western Steam Ship Co. of Seattle with J. Rosine as manager and in 1904 was sold to the Alaska Steam Ship Co. who removed her yards and installed three lifeboats on each side. In October 1910, still as the Olympia, she was wrecked on the coast of Alaska.
ARUNDEL CASTLE (2)/CLUNY CASTLE (1)/METHVEN CASTLE was built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 2681grt, a length of 335ft, a beam of 38ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was initially advertised as the Arundel Castle then as the Cluny Castle but was delivered as the Methven Castle. Sister of the Dunbar Castle she was also too small for the growing trade and was used as an extra steamer until 1897 when she was sold to the Scottish American Line, renamed Columbia and used on the same routes as the Dunbar Castle operating a bi-monthly service. In 1898 she was sold to the North American Mail Steam Ship Co. of Tacoma and in 1904 became the Rosecrans when she was re-sold to Matson Navigation Co. of San Francisco and converted to carry oil in bulk to Honolulu. By 1905 she was owned by the Associated Oil Co. of San Francisco and in January 1913 was wrecked on the coast of California.
ARDTORNISH CASTLE/HAWARDEN CASTLE was built in 1883 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4341grt, a length of 380ft 7in, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Although advertised as the Ardtornish Castle she was renamed Hawarden (pronounced ‘Harden’) Castle after the Prime Minister William Gladstone’s estate in North Wales. Launched by Mrs. Gladstone she was Donald Currie’s largest ship at that time. Delivered for the mail run the class of three vessels were heavy rollers in a cross sea. On 8th February 1893 she towed the Aberdeen Line’s Sophocles into Cape Town after she had lost her propeller when four days out of port. She transferred to Union-Castle in 8th March 1900 and in 1904 was sold to Booth Line of Liverpool and renamed Cyril (2). On 5th September 1905 she was lost below Para in the River Amazon after being in collision with Booth’s Anselm.
NORHAM CASTLE was built in 1883 by John Elder & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4012grt, a length of 380ft 7in, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Hawarden Castle she was built for the Mail service and in June 1887 was one of the two Castle ships at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee review at Spithead. Transferred to Union-Castle on the merger she was sold in 1903 to Compagnie Général Transatlantique for their Bordeaux to West Indies service and rename Martinique. She was eventually broken up in Italy during 1932.
ARMADALE CASTLE/ROSLIN CASTLE (2) was built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4280grt, a length of 380ft, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. When the keel was laid her intended name was the Armadale Castle but she was launched on 24th April 1883 as the Roslin Castle initially for the mail service but later on the East coast of Africa routes. She was renowned for her tendency to roll and was nicknamed the Rolling Castle. In 1888 she was re-engined and, at the same time, had a new stern fitted in what proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to reduce the rolling. Her new triple expansion engine increased her speed to 15 knots and in October 1889 she reduced the Cape – Plymouth run to 15 days 22 hrs 4 min. On 5th June 1891she carried the last mail from Dartmouth when the mail embarkation port was changed to Southampton. On 22nd October 1899, as HMT 26, she was part of the first convoy of six troopships to carry troops to South Africa on the outbreak of the Boer War being the first to arrive with part of the West Yorkshire Regiment. She transferred to Union-Castle on 8th March 1900 following the merger. In September 1904 she was sold to German interests in the Hamburg-Amerika Line, renamed Regina, painted black and fitted out for use as a store ship for the Russian Navy in the Far East. When the Japanese broke off diplomatic relations with Russia on 5th February 1904 and attacked the Russians at Port Arthur four days later German colliers were used to coal the Baltic Fleet on its way to the Far East where it suffered a heavy defeat at the Battle of Tsushima on 27th May 1905. In March 1905, loaded with coal, the Regina grounded on the coast of Mozambique and after the cargo was salvaged she was eventually towed back to Durban where she remained until engine repairs were made which enabled her to steam to Italy. Records show that she never served under the Russian Navy and in 1908 she was broken up at Genoa in Italy.
CLUNY CASTLE was a sailing ship built in 1883 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 1986grt, a length of 276ft 6in, and a beam of 41ft 2in. She was used to carry up to 150 emigrants on cheap assisted passages to South Africa and Welsh anthracite to Calcutta where the coal was of an inferior quality. On the return voyage she carried jute. Since three sailing ships had been sold to Charles Barrie during 1883 her acquisition came as somewhat of a surprise but she was Donald Currie’s last and was eventually sold with the only other remaining sailing ship, the Carisbrooke Castle, in 1889. Sold to Edenmount Sailing Ship Co. of Greenock with R. Ferguson as managers, she was renamed Rowena and remained until 1913 when she was re-sold to Rederiaktieb ‘Delfin’ of Helsingfors (Helsinki) with G. Stenius as manager. She was eventually broken up in 1924.
DOUNE CASTLE (2) was built in 1890 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4046grt, a length of 396ft, a beam of 43ft 2in and a service speed of 12.5 knots. She was the first ship to be specifically designed as an intermediate liner initially for the London – South Africa – Mozambique ports together with her sister the Lismore Castle. Unfortunately, there were problems with the French and she entered service on the Mauritius run. In 1904 she was taken back with her sister by Barclay, Curle in part payment for the Cluny Castle and the Comrie Castle which were being built. She was resold by them to East Asiatic Co. (Ostasiatiske Kompani) of Copenhagen for a passenger service to the West Indies and renamed Domingo. In 1905 she was transferred to the East Asiatic Co., a Russian subsidiary company, and renamed Curonia. She was sold to Goshi Kaisha Kishimoto Shokai of Darien and renamed Kaijo Maru in 1913. Sold again in 1918 she was renamed Susanna II by Madrigal & Co. of Manila and was broken up in 1936.
LISMORE CASTLE was built in 1891 by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 4046grt, a length of 380ft, a beam of 48ft 2in and a service speed of 12 knots. Sister of the Doune Castle she was delivered in Jan 1891 for the same service. On 20th October 1899 she sailed from Southampton bound for Cape Town carrying troops to the Boer War. After the merger in 1900 she continued to be used as a troopship with troops in 3rd class whilst being deployed on the Intermediate service. In 1904 she was returned to Barclay, Curle as part payment for new buildings and renamed Westmount. In the following year she was sold to Cia Trasatlantica of Barcelona and renamed C. Lopez y Lopez ,after one of the founders, for deployment on their Central American service to Mexico. When wartime passenger traffic increased in 1916 she was placed on the Barcelona – Malaga – Cadiz – New York service until the US joined the Allies in 1917 when she reverted to the Mexico service. She was finally broken up in Italy during 1931.
DUNOTTAR CASTLE was built in 1890 by Fairfield Ship Building & Engineering Co. at Govan with a tonnage of 5625grt, a length of 433ft, a beam of 49ft 8in and a service speed of 17 knots. Launched by Lady Currie she was designed to outclass the other ships in the Union fleet. On 20th June 1891 she loaded the first consignment of mail at Southampton when it was substituted for Dartmouth and completed the homeward run from Cape Town in 16 days 14 hours. In 1894 she grounded for two tides near the Eddystone Lighthouse. She had a refit in 1897 when the funnels were heightened, the yards were removed and she was given a wheelhouse. In November 1899 she carried General Buller and 1500 troops to Cape Town for Boer War duties and on the following voyage carried Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. On 8th March 1900 she became part of the merged Union-Castle fleet and was the first ship to fly the new houseflag. In December of that year her propeller shaft snapped and she had to be towed into Dakar the Galician being diverted to pick up the passengers and mail. In 1904 she was laid up at Netley in Southampton Water but by 1907 she was being chartered to the Panama Railroad Co. for their New York to Colon (Panama Canal) service. In 1908 she was chartered to Sir Henry Lunn Ltd for cruises to Norway and the Mediterranean, and in 1911 she took guests to the Delhi Durbar of King George V. She was sold to the Royal Mail Line in 1913 for cruising, renamed Caribbean and given a white livery. On the outbreak of the First World War she was initially used as a troopship to bring soldiers from Canada to Europe before being requisitioned as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. However it was found that she was unsuitable to carry gun mountings and was converted into a dockyard workers accommodation ship in May 1915. On 26th/27th September of the same year she foundered in heavy weather off Cape Wrath whilst en route to Scapa Flow with the loss of 15 lives. HMS Birkenhead took the crew off. (Photo: World Ship Society Library)