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House flag of the Eastern & Australian (E&A) shipping company

Date: 1873-1880
Dimensions:
Overall (rope extends 930mm from flag): 1100 x 1690 x 25 mm
Medium: Wool
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from P&O Australia
Classification:Visual communication
Object Name: Flag
Object No: 00046489

User Terms

    Description
    House flag of E&A shipping company, with the crest of a gold lion rampant holding a black fouled anchor. The flag is made of wool and is machine sewn. The crest is appliqued in cotton or synthetic fabric on either side. Merchant ships traditionally wear the company flag, or house flag of the owners, on the main masthead when in port, or when approaching or leaving port.
    SignificanceThe flag is the distinctive symbol of the E&A Line, or Eastern and Australian Steam Ship Company, a small line which played a strong part in Australian maritime history, providing links from Australia (in particular Queensland) and New Zealand to South-east Asia from 1873 to 1983. The flag, with its colours and heraldic lion drawn from the escutcheon and tartan of the Guthrie family, and designed by the original Chairman James Guthrie, also symbolises the close involvement of Scottish ship owners, builders and seamen in Australia's maritime history.
    HistoryThe E&A Line actually consisted of four successive companies bearing the same name, Eastern and Australian Steam Ship Company, between 1873 and the early 1980s. It was established to serve routes between Australasia and 'Far Eastern' ports - Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, and was originally named Eastern & Australian Mail Steam Company Limited. It only had a small fleet of ships but those it had, such as the NELLORE and the NANKIN, were well known. Ownership of E&A Line was involved in other companies in the 20th century, notably the AUSN Company, and from 1946 P&O. Through its history, the E&A Lines carried cargo and passengers, and was involved in trooping and supply in World War I and in World War II. Its entire fleet of three of its ships was lost in World War II. In the post-war period it operated cargo-passenger ships until 1975 when passenger service was given up and the ships were progressively sold, though in 1983 it continued to staff and operate AJCL containerships.

    E&A's flag was well-known throughout the regions it served. It is believed to have been designed, along with the company seal, by Sir James Guthrie, the Line's first Chairman. He was descended from an old Scottish family whose escutcheon included a lion rampant. The predominant colurs of the Guthrie tartan were red and green, the colours of the flag.

    Merchant ships usually wear the company flag, or house flag of the owners, on the main masthead when in port, or when approaching or leaving port.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: House flag of E & A shipping company

    Web title: House flag of the Eastern & Australian (E&A) shipping company

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