Coast Lines Limited provided shipping services in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Channel Islands from 1917 to 1971.[1]

Coast Lines Ltd
FounderOwen Philipps, 1st Baron Kylsant
SuccessorP&O Ferries
Area served
England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Channel Islands


Powell, Bacon and Hough Lines Ltd was formed in 1913 in Liverpool. The name of Coast Lines Limited was adopted in 1917, when the company was purchased by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company at a cost of £800,000[2] (equivalent to £47,693,706 in 2021).[3]

In 1931, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was dissolved after an accounting scandal which led to the imprisonment of chairman Lord Kylsant for misrepresenting the state of the company to shareholders.[4] Coast Lines achieved independence under the chairmanship of Sir Alfred Read (1871–1955), who had previously built up the family shipping business of F. H. Powell & Co., and then been managing director of Coast Lines from 1917.[5]

From 1917 to 1951, Coast Lines acquired a controlling interest in a large number of coastal shipping companies, eventually numbering about twenty, of which the most important were:

By 1951, the company operated a fleet of 109 ships, which carried over four million tons of cargo, over half a million head of livestock, and more than a million passengers.

The British and Irish Steam Packet Company and the City of Cork Steam Packet Company were sold off in 1965 to the Irish Government.

The remains of the company was acquired by P&O Ferries in 1971.[6]



  1. ^ Sea breezes: the ship lovers' digest: 1949
  2. ^ A business of national importance: the Royal Mail Shipping Group, 1902-1937 By Edwin Green, Michael S. Moss
  3. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  4. ^ "Shipping Lines: Royal Mail Steam Packet Company". Archived from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  5. ^ Moss, Michael S. (23 September 2004), "Read, Sir Alfred Henry (1871–1955), shipowner", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/47431, ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8, retrieved 18 May 2022
  6. ^ 'The world's largest coaster fleet', Sea Breezes, E.R. Reader, February 1949.


  • Robins, Nick; MacRonald, Malcolm (2017). Powell, Bacon and Hough: Formation of Coast Lines Limited. Portishead, Bristol: Coastal Shipping Publications. ISBN 9781902953816.

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