Please Note: The  house flag and word mark 'P&O' are Trade Marks of the DP World Company

Nick Messinger's personal tribute, covering the 'heyday years'



" For all the soul of our sad East is there, Beneath the house-flag of the P&O "

Rudyard Kipling ~ The Exiles Line

Long before GPS, AIS and ARPA - and comfy bridge chairs too, we sailed the World's oceans, carrying millions of passengers in comfort and safety.

Welcome aboard!


To Navigate this website, simply click the links below


I very much hope that you enjoy your visit.......



Note: GPS = Global Positioning System; AIS = Automatic Identification System; ARPA = Automated Radar Plotting Aid

From its conception, the P&O received considerable press coverage in The Times.

From The Times of 23rd August 1837

Please use the above link to access a growing number of articles and editorials.....

The P&O Liner India - a unique tale of the Great War

Just uploaded!

Meanwhile - A really good read......

'The History of the Port of London: A Vast Emporium of Nations' by Peter Stone

The River Thames has been integral to the prosperity of London since Roman times. Explorers sailed away on voyages of discovery to distant lands. Colonies were established and a great empire grew. Funding their ships and cargoes helped make the City of London into the world's leading financial centre. In the 19th century a vast network of docks was created for ever-larger ships, behind high, prison-like walls that kept them secret from all those who did not toil within. Sail made way for steam as goods were dispatched to every corner of the world.

In the 19th century London was the world's greatest port city.

In the Second World War the Port of London became Hitler's prime target. It paid a heavy price but soon recovered.

Yet by the end of the 20th century the docks had been transformed into Docklands, a new financial centre.

Peter Stone's excellent 'The History of the Port of London: A Vast Emporium of Nations' is the fascinating story of the rise and fall and revival of the commercial river. The only book to tell the whole story and bring it right up to date, it charts the foundation, growth and evolution of the port and explains why for centuries it has been so important to Britain's prosperity.

This book will appeal to those interested in London's history, maritime and industrial heritage, the Docklands and East End of London, and the River Thames.

A native of the city in which he lives, Peter Stone has for well over a decade studied London's history and during that time written numerous articles for magazines and websites. His family has a long association with the East End of London and his ancestors worked as watermen on the Thames in the 18th century. Peter is a regular commentator about London on social media and is the creator of the popular website

Now available from Amazon!

And many more required......

Just E-mail them to me at:

The Ships









ship's people


There was no shortage of experienced senior officers to take command. The Royal Navy had been shrinking in size since the end of the Napoleonic wars and P&O paid well. Great trust was placed in these men. Long before the advent of radio communications, once the last line was cast off and the anchors stowed - they were Masters Under God. Captains exercised absolute authority at sea. Consequently, early insurance writs, agreements with ship owners and passengers and the Board of Trade, referred to them as such - Masters Under God.

P&O passengers

'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


my P&o ships ~ 1961-1972

Cadet to first Officer, PASSENGER DIVISION






Website archived by the British Library

Children's Bridge Visits were always great fun.

Onboard Oronsay with the Children's Hostess and a young Quartermaster on the wheel, late 1969

Recommended reading list:-

Cable, Boyd, A Hundred Year History of the P&O.  (Ivor Nicholson & Watson Ltd, London, 1937)

Harcourt, Freda, Flagships of Imperialism: The P&O Company and the Politics of Empire from Its Origins to 1867 (Studies in Imperialism). (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2006)

Howarth, David and Stephen Howarth, The Story of P&O: The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (Revised Edition). (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1994)

Hook, F A, Merchant Adventurers 1914-1918. (A & C Black, London, 1920)

Kerr, George F, Business in Great Waters: The War History of the P&O 1939-1945. (Faber and Faber, London, 1951)

Padfield, Peter.  Beneath the House Flag of the P&O. (Hutchinson, London, 1981)

Gordon, Malcolm R. From Chusan To Sea Princess.  (Alan & Unwin, Sydney Australia, 1985)

McCart , Neil. 20th Century Passenger Ships of The P&O. (Patrick Stephens Ltd, London, 1985)

Miller, William H. The Last Blue Water Liners. ( Conway Maritime Press, London, 1986)

Rabson, Stephen and Kevin O'Donoghue, P&O: A Fleet History. (World Ship Society, Kendal, 1988)

Perry, John W.  Quit Ye Like Men. (, 2008)

Deakes, Christopher & Stanley, Thomas. A Century of Sea Travel. (Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, 2010)

Peter, Bruce and Dawson, Philip P&O at 175- A World of Ships & Shipping Since 1837 (Lily Publications Ltd, Isle of Man IM99 4LP, 2012)

The Merchant Navy Association (MNA) - launched in 1989, has established an opportunity for seafarers to get together to form a countrywide consensus on a range of issues and ideas.  Significant progress towards appropriate recognition and acknowledgement of the needs of the seafaring community are well advanced.

The Merchant Navy Association link:


"Most English people live and die sublimely ignorant of all things relating to ships—ships of war and of commerce alike. They hardly get beyond the fact that the " Victory" was the name of the vessel on which Nelson died. It would not be a bad thing if some simple facts about the sea's worth and the working of our navies of trade and war were taught in every English school. It would be at least as useful and interesting as some of the schemes proposed by theorists as a means of keeping the people on the land, or as rifle practice for school infants."
From: The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, No 2,672 Volume 103, 12 January 1907,

Commander Nicholas R Messinger, RD*, FNI, RNR

Master Mariner, Fellow of The Nautical Institute, Galbraith Wrightson Senior Research Fellow, University of Plymouth