Ships of the Union Castle

South Africa, with the rich grounds (ores, diamonds), is at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic: The Cape is thus a supply station for maritime circulation around Africa. The objective to bar the road of the Indies in France pushes the United Kingdom dice 1806 to take again the control of the colony, formally yielded by Holland, against compensations, in 1814. The discovery of diamonds at Kimberley in 1870 will be the first event transforming the Cape into a large port of shipment.
After the second Second Boer War (1899-1902) and the proclamation of the South African Union, British dominion in 1910, the Cape becomes an important stopover, justifying to be a maritime terminus.
Founded in 1853 the Union Steam Collier transports the coal of the South Wales to Southampton to face an increasing demand. 5 ships are ordered: “Union”, “Briton,” “Saxon, “Norman” and DANE. This one will inaugurate the postal service allotted by Admiralty; it is quickly joined by PHOEBE.
60 m length, DANE sails at 8 knots pushed by a propeller on a two-cylinder motor of 60 nhp to ensure the connection in 42 days. PHOEBE, slightly shorter (52 m), can nevertheless receive 106 passengers and sails at 13 knots thanks to an engine of 120 nhp.


The service will pass to less than 35 days and the company then receives a no-claims bonus of the Legislative Parliament of the Cape.
The Scottish Donald Currie leaves Cunard in 1862 to create a concurrent company: Castle Line will connect Liverpool and Calcutta, via the Cape. In 1864, Currie installs his company, and his ships in London. In 1869, in spite of the opening of Suez Canal, it continues to connect Calcutta by the Cape, with stopover with Dartmouth. In 1872, it benefits from the opening to the competition to launch its steamers transporting of the passengers and the mail, between England and the Colony of the Cape. Until 1900, the two companies will share the service before Castle Line amalgamates with Union SS Co. to form Union-Castle Line SS Co.

long 104 m is one of the first mail steamers for South Africa and saves 12 hours with the voyage at the speed of 10 knots. Its name is that of a castle of the county of Sutherland, in North East of Scotland.
AVONDALE CASTLE (the castle is located at Strathaven, in South Lanarkshire, Scotland) is arranged for 200 First, 150 Second and 150 Third class. Rather slow (13 knots), it is sold with the Co of Navigation the South-Atlantic in September 1912 and famous the Garonne to be one of the first ships of the new company, exploiting the weekly line of South America at the beginning of Bordeaux. In 1922 it is replaced by Meduana and is demolished in Bordeaux.
En 1904, DUNVEGAN CASTLE made on a series of cruises in Norway and the Mediterranean. She was used to land the first wave of the British Expeditionary Force in Le Havre on August 10th, 1914. Like DUNOTTAR CASTLE and CARISBROOKE CASTLE, she is a ship of less than 6000 GRT
Port_Elizabeth.jpg (444665 octets)
CARISBROOKE CASTLE (7627 GRT) is the last ship with only one propeller and the first in the fleet to have the first class accommodation located amidships instead of in the poop, conforming with the North Atlantic practice of many years. In 1900, she makes the last departure of London before the transfer of the terminus in Southampton. She was mobilized during the war then takes again the service before its replacement in 1921 by WINDSOR CASTLE
Port_Elizabeth2.jpg (349551 octets)

CARISBROOKE CASTLE in the village of Carisbrooke, close to Newport, Island of Wight, was the prison of Charles I for 14 month before its execution in 1649
The castle of DUNVEGAN is the seat of the MacLeod clan since the 13th century. It was built on the west coast of the island of Skye in Scotland, close to the village of Dunvegan.

On the Island of Arran, KILDONAN was used as a hunting lodge by the Kings of Scotland. WALMER CASTLE is a fortress of Henry VIII built into 1539-1540 to counter the threat of invasion of Kent, in English South-east.

KILDONAN CASTLE (9652 GRT) is not finished in 1900 and is chartered to transport 3000 soldiers; it goes back to Glasgow (Fairfield yards) to be completed. It is transformed into ship hospital in 1915 (600 beds) then becomes an armed commercial cruiser. After its military service, it turns over to the postal service until its replacement in 1926.
WALMER CASTLE (12 546 GRT) is in 1902 the first ship after the fusion of the two companies. Lord Gladstone, first General governor of South Africa, travels in 1910 on board.

GLENGORM Close to Tobermory on the island of Mull (Inner Hebrides), the family castle of Nelson goes back to 1860. On the hill above the river Wear, DURHAM is occupied a Norman castle since 1840 by University College in the North-East of England. The castle of GARTH (Perthshire, East of Scotland) built at the 14th century by the earl of Buchan and restored in 1890 by Sir Donald Currie, founder of Castle Line, in 1862.
GLENGORM CASTLE DURHAM CASTLE and GARTH CASTLE are all three part of the series of steamers of less than 10,000 tons ensuring the postal service of Capetown (respectively 6763 GRT, 8828 GRT and 7715 GRT) 
The Castle of Balmoral, summer residence of the royal family, is a large manor located in the area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, known under the name of Royal Deeside. The property was bought by Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, husband of Victoria. 
GLOUCESTER, at the Welsh border, on Severn, knew several castles on the same site, under William the Conqueror then at 12th and 13th century

BALMORAL CASTLE, larger version of WALMER CASTLE, is used as royal yacht in 1910 when the duke of Connaught comes to open the new Parliament of South African Union.
GLOUCESTER CASTLE (7999 GRT) is sunk on 15 July 1942, 600 nautical miles in the North-West of St  Helena.

Management of CAPE POLONIO, old steamer of Hamburg-Südamerikanische-Dampfschifffarths-Gesellschaft (Hamburg-South) in 1914, is given to the company by Shipping Controller after the war. The 21-06-1919 she leaves Plymouth for the Cape at 12 knots. At her return, her management is transferred to P&O, for a voyage to Bombay then resold to Hamburg Süd.
20,576 GRT 194.4 Mr. Passengers 356 1st, 250 2nd and 949 3rd class. Crew 460.
From October 1919, the service “Round Africa” starts again; the first “four funnels” ARUNDEL CASTLE (IV) followed at one year by WINDSOR CASTLE (II) makes her maiden voyage in April 1921. Baptized by the future Edouard VIII, WINDSOR CASTLE (1921) will become too slow for the postal service; it must thus be modernized by Harland & Wolf in 1937: removal of two funnels, modification of the bow, convertion to oil burning. Requisitioned by Navy, she is torpedoed on 23 March 1943 at 110 miles north of Algiers. WINDSOR CASTLE (1921)

LLANDOVERY CASTLE is a ruin castle in Carmarthenshire, built in 1116 by the Normans. LLANGIBBY CASTLE is in Monmouthshire, in the South-east of Wales

In April 1912, Royal Mail Line takes the control of the Union-Castle and a postal new agreement is signed. With Welsh Sir Owen Philips (Lord Kylsant) at the commands, the new ships take Welsh names like LLANDOVERY CASTLE.
LLANGIBBY CASTLE is the first motor ship for the line of the Cape via Suez; its inaugural voyage takes place on 5 December 1929. Mobilized, she is touched by a torpedo on 16 January 42; she takes part in Juno force in June 44 and goes back to the Cape service from 47 to 54 

STIRLING CASTLE is the one of most important Scottish monuments on the hill of Stirling, gate of the Highlands, in the center of Scotland. WINCHESTER CASTLE in the South East of England, is famous for its round table of king Arthur, table of wood suspended in the Large Hall since 1348. ATHLONE CASTLE is located close to the geographical centre of Ireland, on the Shannon river. 
STIRLING CASTLE beats in August 1936 the record Southampton it Cape, held since 1893, in 13 days 9 hours. She goes through the war and resumes her service until its last arrival in the Cape on 30 November 65. ATHLONE CASTLE, her sistership (25564 GRT), ensures 141 voyages before finishing her career in 1965.
WINCHESTER CASTLE (1939) will take part in several military operations in Madagascar, in Sicily, in Algeria, in Provence
DUNNOTTAR CASTLE (1936) takes the name of a fortress of North East Scotland (Aberdeenshire). At her service entrance, this cargo and passenger vessel comes with two mainmasts, grey hull, twelve derricks, five holds and a straight funnel. On 14 October 1939 she becomes HMS DUNNOTTAR CASTLE (F34) used for the convoys of the Atlantic then becomes transport of troops. She resumes her civil service from 1948 to 1958. Transformed into cruise ship (VICTORIA then PRINCESA VICTORIA), she finishes on the beach of Alang in 2004.
EDINBURGH CASTLE, 3rd of the name in 1947, is the second post war steamer of the company. 28,705 GRT, 6 turbines, 2 propellers, 22 knots, such are the characteristics of this ship without trouble, which will be demolished in 1976.

PENDENNIS CASTLE, castle of Cornwall built between 1540 and 1545 for Henry VIII defends right bank of the Fal river close to Falmouth. PENDENNIS CASTLE (at this time the largest of Castle with 28582 GRT) is inaugurated in 1959. She is the first Castle equipped with stabilizers. She is sold in 1976 (OCEAN QUEEN) and is scrapped in 1980. She will be followed by WINDSOR CASTLE.

Another WINDSOR CASTLE (37 640 GRT) is inaugurated by the Queen Elizabeth mother on June 23rd, 1959. She will make the last mail voyage from Capetown on 6 September 1977. She becomes then a floating hotel in Jeddah. Windsor60.jpg (312640 octets)
South-African province, Transvaal located at the North-East of South Africa was at the 19th century the territories located upstream Vaal river, the bulk of the independent Boer republic called Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (Republic of South Africa). Annexed by the British in 1902, Transvaal became, in 1910, one of the four South-African provinces.


In 1966, a common postal service is shared by Union-Castle and South African Marine Service. When TRANSVAAL CASTLE and PRETORIA CASTLE are transferred to Safmarine, they are renamed S.A. VAAL and S.A. ORANJE. S.A. VAAL closes the service of passengers by leaving Southampton for Capetown on 2 September 1977 before being sold to Carnival Cruises.
GOOD HOPE CASTLE (1965) is the first of two cargo liners connecting Southampton to the Cape in 11 days and half. Installations for a dozen passengers are added in 1967, allowing a connection with Ascension and St Helena. At the time of a fire in 73, SOUTHAMPTON CASTLE is in the vicinity.
SOUTHAMPTON, large port of the Western South of England, has a castle of 12th and 13th century. In 1978, Costa Lines takes again GOOD HOPE CASTLE (PAOLA C) and SOUTHAMPTON CASTLE (FRANCA C) transformed into cruise liners. The mail service which had stared 120 years earlier came to a close.

In 1999, the name Line Union-Castle lives again for a “turn of Africa” according to the road of the Union-Castle. The P & O VICTORIA (ex-KUNGSHOLM) leaves Southampton on 11 December 1999 for the millennium cruise with the funnel in red and black.



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