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Flagships of ImperialismThe P&O Company and the Politics of Empire From Its Origins to 1867$
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Freda Harcourt and Sarah Palmer

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780719073939

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719073939.001.0001

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‘A large capital and great arrangements’: P&O to 18401

‘A large capital and great arrangements’: P&O to 18401

(p.18) Chapter One ‘A large capital and great arrangements’: P&O to 18401
Flagships of Imperialism

Freda Harcourt

Manchester University Press

This chapter discusses the various factors that led to the formation of P&O. The contribution of two Irish shipowners and businessmen, Richard Bourne and Charles Wye Williams, who merged their shipping business to form P&O are discussed in detail. The contribution of Ireland to the development of ocean steam navigation and to P&O, and the contribution of the experience in London shipbrokerage of Brodie McGhie Willcox and Arthur Anderson are also discussed. The sustained pressure from civil servants and military officers living in India who were joined by Indian and Chinese merchants and their agents in London, forced the British Government to focus on much faster and more efficient steam navigation to India, which also helped in the formation of P&O. The ability of its founders to take risks and invest large amount of capital along with their keenness to control the mail contract to the east finally helped in materializing steam communication to India.

Keywords:   P&O, Richard Bourne, Charles Wye Williams, Brodie McGhie Willcox, Arthur Anderson, mail contract

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