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Reproduced courtesy of Lynne Norton


Date: 1936
Overall: 640 x 910 x 50 mm
Medium: Oil paint, board, frame
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Copyright: © Lynne Norton
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00036452

User Terms

    In this painting, Frank Norton has depicted the corn-coloured hull of RMS ORION standing out from the mountains in the background. From its launch in 1935, ORION set new standards in shipboard style and passenger comfort for the Orient Line.
    SignificanceThis painting represents the Orient Line, an important company due to their idea of cruising to exotic destinations for pleasure. ORION was a significant progression in passenger comfort for travellers to and from Australia.
    HistoryJames Thompson initiated a ship broking company in 1797 and by the mid-19th century operated sailing routes around the world. Scotsman James Anderson joined the company in 1828, with his nephew James Anderson joining in 1854. By 1869 the company was trading under the name Anderson, Anderson and Co. In 1878, keen to initiate a service to Australia, the company purchased a fleet of steam ships owned by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company and founded the Orient Steam Navigation Company (shortened to the Orient Line). In 1879 the ORIENT, a ship purpose-built for the company, entered service on the Australia route.

    By the turn of the century the Orient Line had a close association with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, with the two companies sharing an Australian Government mail contract. This was a time of rapid expansion for the Orient Line with a succession of large 12,000 tonne steam ships entering into service in 1909. P&O acquired a controlling interest in the Orient Line in 1919, but the firm Anderson, Green and Co managed the subsidiary as a separate entity until 1960. The fleet was upgraded after World War I with five 20,000 tonne ships built in the 1920s.

    During World War II, Orient Line's ships were requisitioned for service, and half the fleet was lost. In the 1950s three new ships, the ORONSAY, ORCADES and ORSOVA were built to replace these losses. With competition from air travel, the Line's ships were increasingly diverted to cruising. The ORIANA was the last ship ordered for the Orient Line and the last one to fly the Orient Line flag. P&O and Orient formally merged to form P&O-Orient Lines in 1960.

    The Orient Line introduced cruising, the idea of sea travel purely for pleasure, in the 1880s. They began with cruises to the Mediterranean and to Norway in 1889 and to the West Indies in 1893, using ships no longer needed for full-time service on the England to Australia mail route. By the late 1930s, passengers could select from a variety of exotic itineraries throughout the world. The 1930s were boom years for cruising and in 1933 alone the Orient Line operated 18 cruises, mainly sailing to Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Mediterranean. During this period the tourist class was introduced.

    The state-of-the-art ORION, with a single funnel and what became the Orient's signature corn-coloured hull, was launched in England in 1935. She left London in September 1935 on her maiden voyage to Australia. The interior of the ship followed the sleek lines of the vessel's exterior and incorporated new materials that were both modern and adapted to the elements. ORION regularly travelled from Britain to Australia but also undertook short cruises. ORION played a major role during the Second World War as a troop transport able to carry up to 7,000 servicemen, and survived the war unharmed. She was eventually broken up in 1963.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: RMS ORION

    Primary title: Presented by the Commander and Officers of Orient Line RMS ORION - 23371 tons to the ORION Theatre - 7th March 1936

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