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The Company - The African Steam Ship Company.

1852. African Steam Ship Co Inc by Royal Charter.
Routes :
1852 – Plymouth – Madeira – Tenerife – Bathurst – Freetown.
1853 – London – Plymouth – Madeira – Tenerife – Goree – Bathurst – Freetown – Monrovia – Cape Coast Castle – Accra – Ouidah – Badagri – Fernando Po – Plymouth – London.
1855 – River Niger trade.
1856 – Liverpool substituted for London.
1856 – Liverpool – Morocco.
1858 – Plymouth dropped as mail loading port.
1861 – Lagos added.

Note:- I haven’t found many outward bound dates and ports of call for the vessels, but this can be, in a way, worked out. The vessels usual called at the same ports homeward as they did outward, and with the average sailing times, you would get roundabout the date.
The average times are:-
Plymouth to Madeira - 7 days
Madeira to Teneriffe - 2 days
Teneriffe to Goree - 4 days
Goree to Bathurst - 2 days
Bathurst to Sierra Leone 4 days
Sierra Leone to Liberia - 4 days
Liberia to Cape Coast - 4 days
Cape Coast to Accra - 1 day
Accra to Lagos - 1 day
Lagos to Fernando Po - 4 days
Fernando Po to Cameroon 1 day
Cameroon to Old Calabar 1 day
Old Calabar to Bonny - 2 days Plus a few days stay before returning.

Funnel colour – 1852 – 1864 Black - 1864 – 1932 Yellow

29th April 1852 - ‘Plymouth & Devonport Weekly Journal’
The new line of monthly steamers for Madeira and the African Coast are announced to commence running the 1st of September. The port of departure will be Plymouth, and the ships employed will be four in number, named ‘Forerunner’, Faith’, ‘Hope’, and ‘Charity’. The first will be of 400 tons burthen, the two next of 900, and the last of 1,000. They are constructing by Mr. John Laird, of Birkenhead, with engines by George Forrester and Co., and Fawcett, Preston, and Co., of Liverpool.

12th July 1852 - ‘The Times’
This contract for mail service to Madeira, Tenerife, and the ports of Western Africa comes into operation on the 1st of September, when the first vessel, the ‘Forerunner’, will take the mails from Plymouth. This vessel is just launched from Mr. Laird’s yard at Birkenhead, and is pronounced by competent persons to be a very fine vessel, and will be worked on the screw principle.

12th February 1853 - ‘Newcastle Journal’
The directors of the African Steam Ship Company, being desirous of encouraging discipline, carefulness, and attention on board their ships, have arranged for the seamen in their service to share with the commander and officers £5 out of every £100 the ship may earn of freight or passage-money, to be divided into three hundred shares, in the following proportions, viz,:- Seventy shares to the commander, thirty to the chief officer, thirty-five to the engineer, fifteen to the surgeon, fifteen to the second officer, twenty to the second engineer, fifteen to the third engineer, one hundred to other officers and seamen. To be paid to them in equal proportions on completion of the voyage, on production of certificates of good conduct, under the hand of the commander. Any shares forfeited by reason of misconduct, loss of goods or stores, smuggling, or trafficking on the coast, will be shared equally amongst those entitled to receive the gratuity.

9th January 1854 - ‘London Standard’
Mr. H. J. Waring, the Plymouth agent of the African Mail Steam-ship Company, has addressed the following letter to the editor of the Plymouth Mail:- “Sir, - A paragraph having appeared in two newspapers of these towns, namely, the Western Courier and Plymouth Journal, announcing the removal of the African mail packets from this port to Southampton, I am desired by the directors of that company to say there is not the slightest foundation for such a report, and would feel obliged by your stating as much in the columns of your next publication.”

26th September 1854 -‘The Times'
Ships belonging to this enterprising company are the ‘Faith’, ‘Hope’, ‘Charity’, ‘Candace’, and ‘Bacchante’.

29th November 1858 - ‘London Daily News’
At a director’s meeting it was stated as follows:-
The principal changes in the service are, that Liverpool, which is the centre of the African trade trade, is made the mail port, and the risk, delay, and expense of calling at Plymouth to embark and discharge the mails is done away with; the Port of Goree is omitted; Cape Palmas is substituted for Monrovia, as the mail port of Liberia; the three principal mouths of the Niger, the Benin, Nun, and Brass rivers, are to be called at; the Bonny river will be the terminus of the main line; and a branch steamer is to be employed to carry the mails to Fernando Po, Old Calabar, Cameroons, and into the Brass and Nun rivers (the main line of packets merely calling off their entrances). The contract came into operation on the 24th September, and is for a period of seven years from that date.

1868. By the end of the year a new line was formed, called The British & African Steam Navigation Company, which The African Steam Ship Company was sold into.

13th July 1936. Court Order to wind up. Under-taking was acquired by Elder Dempster Lines Holding Ltd.

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