The Union Line was founded in 1853 as the Southampton Steam Shipping Company to transport coal from South Wales to Southampton. It was renamed the Union Steam Collier Company and then the Union Steamship Company. In 1857, renamed the Union Line, it won a contract to carry mail to South Africa.
Meanwhile Donald Currie had built up the Castle Packet Co. which traded to Calcutta round the Cape of Good Hope. This trade substantially curtailed by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, and the Castle Line started to run to South Africa instead, later becoming the Castle Mail Packet Company. From 1876 the mail contract to South Africa was awarded jointly to the Castle Mail Packet Company and the Union Line. After a period of intense competition and later co-operation, including transporting troops and military equipment during the Boer War, the Union Line and Castle Shipping Line merged 8 March 1900, creating the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company, Ltd,... Read More