puffers & vics




Leith Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co Ltd



Our interest in this Company in the context of puffers is in their use of these vessels as feeders between the industrial central belt of Scotland, along the Forth and Cyde and Monklands Canals, and the continental shipping services which they operated from ports on the Forth, principally Leith. I'm not 100% sure how many they did own but I have identified 13, all named as single letters of the alphabet, which are all included in the aphabetical index. Several others were either sail powered or dumb lighters and so are excluded.

The Hull & Leith Shipping Co., formed about 1800 and the Leith & Hamburgh Shipping Co. founded 1816 combined in 1836 to form the Hull & Leith Steam Packet Co. and started trading between these two ports. In 1847 they merged with Edinburgh & Dundee Steam Packet Co. to become the Forth & Clyde Shipping Co. In 1852 regular sailings commenced between Leith and Hamburg and the company name changed to Leith, Hull & Hamburgh (later Hamburg) S. P. Co. In 1862 James Currie, brother of Donald Currie who owned the Castle Line joined the company and this gives some explanation why the company's ships were frequently chartered to supplement the Castle Line's Mail steamers to South Africa. By 1865 passenger and cargo routes had been opened to Copenhagen and Stettin,as well as cargo services to North German ports, Russia and other Baltic ports. In 1919 the Hull & Hamburg Line fleet, previously managed by Donald Currie was taken over and in 1933 M. Isaacs & Son, London was acquired to gain access to Portuguese and Mediterranean routes. In 1940 the company changed it's name to Currie Line Ltd, the name Hamburg being deemed inappropriate at the time. After the war when the Baltic was mainly under Soviet control, the company disposed of all the Baltic cargo ships but in 1946 a new passenger service was commenced between Grangemouth, Middlesbrough and Finland in conjunction with Finland Line. North Sea passenger services were discontinued in 1958 and the company subsequently contained it's activities to cargo services