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Cruise History: Anchor Line and Fred Pansing’s portrait of the RMS Caledonia. Premier liner from Glasgow to New York.

This quality three-quarter portrait view of the Anchor Liner CALEDONIA must have earned Fred Pansing some additional acclaim to his already well established reputation with the passenger liner companies. Bristling with speed and strength, the massive liner is churning water on her way to America. The anxious passengers and crew are visible, with the heights of the red air vents and the dual black stacks rising high, topped still by the American Flag as the destination symbol, and the company’s red anchor diagonally across a white field house-flag off the mizzen top.

Launched in 1904, CALEDONIA registered at 500 feet and 9,223 gross tons out of the Glasgow Yard of D. & W. Henderson for the Anchor Fleet, the third vessel of five eventually so named for the line. Pushing her twin-screws with a massive steam engine, she could make 18 knots while comfortably carrying accommodations for 383 1st, 216 2nd and 869 3rd class passengers.

She has put into the premier service on the Glasgow to New York route immediately, where she served for nine years before being commissioned as a troop ship in 1914. Carrying soldiers and horses from Dublin to France, to Bombay and Canada, then in the Mediterranean, she was torpedoed and sunk on Dec. 4, 1916, 125 miles from Malta.

This excellent work was a direct commission for the Anchor Line, Scotland’s oldest such company founded in 1856, the year they began their service to New York. Pansing in no small way would have contributed to their success, in displaying ships such as CALEDONIA in such a professional and confident manner. The company used this very image for advertising posters and postcards, some of which survive in collections today, but there is nothing quite like the original work of art. It makes one wish to have had the opportunity to voyage onboard such a majestic ship.

Anchor Line was founded in 1856 as Handysides & Henderson although Handysides & Co. had owned ships prior to this date. In 1872 the Barrow Steamship Co. was formed in partnership with the Duke of Devonshire and ships were later transferred between Anchor Line and Barrow SS Co., but the two companies have been treated as one for the purposes of this list. In 1911 Cunard purchased the whole of the ordinary share capital of Anchor Line and in 1912 a joint service was formed to India with Brocklebank Line to be known as Anchor-Brocklebank. In 1916 Anchor-Donaldson Line was incorporated with Donaldson Line to operate services to Canada.

The firm of Anchor Line went into liquidation in 1935, but extra finance was injected by Runciman Ltd and a new concern, Anchor Line (1935) Ltd was formed. Anchor-Donaldson and Anchor-Brocklebank ceased to exist and Cunard had no connection with the new company. In 1949 United Molasses Co (Athel Line) gained a controlling interest in the company and by the following year owned the whole ordinary share capital.

Picture above taken in 1956 of the Anchor Line Head Office, 12-16. St. Vincent Place, Glasgow.  The office was opened in 1907.

The transatlantic passenger service ended in 1956, but in 1960 a new joint Anchor-Cunard service was introduced. United Molasses Co. became a subsidiary of Tate & Lyle in 1965 and Anchor Line was sold to Runciman & Co, Newcastle and in subsequent years several of Runciman’s Moor Line ships were transferred to Anchor. The final passenger voyage to India took place in 1966. The Currie Line of Leith together with their fleet was acquired in 1969 and George Gibson, Leith in 1972. Anchor became the shipowning company for the group in 1976 and by 1986 all that remained of the company was five liquid gas carriers, technically owned by Gibson & Co.

For information on this painting please contact the Vallejo Gallery.

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