Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,018 pages of information and 213,092 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Donaldson Line

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1855 Donaldson Brothers was founded

1858 Acquired a sailing ship. Initial service between Glasgow and South America

By 1870 Donaldson’s owned or chartered 16 sailing ships; decided to introduce steamships for cargo on the South America service.

1874 Summer steamships to Canada

1880 Added a service to Baltimore

1881 the company won a contract to carry coal from the UK from the new Canadian Grand Trunk Railway, with live cattle carried on the easterly route.

1905 Donaldson entered the Canadian passenger trade; awarded a contract with the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company to carry newsprint to England.

1913 formation of Donaldson Line Ltd to take over the family's shares in the individual ships and Donaldson Brothers Ltd to manage the ships.

1916 the Anchor-Donaldson Line was created to run services to Canada, owned equally by Donaldson Brothers Ltd and Anchor Line (Henderson Brothers) Ltd, which was a Cunard subsidiary.

Post-WWI: two replacement passenger ships were constructed.

1919 Donaldson decided to re-develop its South American business with the formation of Donaldson South American Line Ltd with Donaldson holding 50%, John Black and Co’s Glasgow Steamship Co 30% and Vickers Ltd 20%.

1920 Various new transatlantic services were developed.

1935 Donaldson purchased the rest of the Anchor-Donaldson shares and renamed the company Donaldson Atlantic Line.

1938 Donaldson Brothers and Black Ltd

Post WW2 the company resumed all of its services.

1952 The South American service was suspended for four years

1967 liquidation of the company. Blue Star Line acquired the South American trade.


Associated companies:
Donaldson Atlantic Line Ltd
Donaldson Brothers and Black Ltd
Donaldson Line Ltd
Donaldson South American Line Ltd
Dundee, Perth and London Shipping Co Ltd
Glasgow Steam Shipping Co Ltd
Kelvinbrae Steam Ship Co Ltd

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Donaldson Line [1]
  • Scottish Archive Network