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Coast Lines
Coast Lines was formed in 1913 from the merger of three Liverpool coaster companies. Through a series of takeovers, it grew to be the largest coaster company in the world, though largely based around the West Coast of Britain until after the Second World War. Through much of the period of its existence, coastal trading was is decline, which made the group's many takeovers easier to arrange. At its peak, it dominated west coast trading, running most of the area's ferry routes, apart from those of the powerful railway companies and to the Isle of Man.
In 1917, Coast Lines was acquired by Lord Kylsant's Royal Mail Steam Packet group, remaining with them until the group's collapse in early 1930s. The break-up of the Kylsant empire was slow, and it was not until 1935 that Coast Lines regained independence. It was during this Kylsant period that many of the main acquisitions were made, including Belfast SS, Burns & Laird, British & Irish and a half interest in David MacBrayne. Also during this period, the Coast Lines received the first of thirteen passenger motorships, the first of which shared the 'standard' Kylsant outline with two small funnels. This outline was applied to ships varying in size from the 696ton Lochfyne (david MacBrayne) to the 27000ton White Star Line Britannic.
Whilst pioneering unit load traffic in the post-war period, it failed to embrace vehicle ferries and went into a steady decline. British & Irish (including the associated City of Cork company) was bought by the Irish Government in 1965. The remainder of Coast Lines was purchased by P&O in 1971, who had owned the dominant East Coast equivalent, the General Steam Navigation, since the 1920s.
Sections on this Page:-
Belfast SS Pages
British & Irish SP Co Pages
Burns & Laird Line Page
Coast Lines Fleet Postcards
Other Coast Lines Pages
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Table of Ship Histories
Belfast SS Pages:-
Belfast SS History - Overview of the Liverpool-Belfast night boats.
Belfast SS Motorships - More detailed history of the Liverpool-Belfast motorships.
Belfast SS Car Ferries - Irish Sea car ferry services between Liverpool-Belfast.
British & Irish SP Co Pages:-
British & Irish SP Co - Overview of the B&I SP Co.
British & Irish SP Co Motorships - More detailed history of the Liverpool-Dublin night motorships.
British & Irish Line Car Ferries - History of B&I after the split from Coast Lines in 1965.
City of Cork Motorships - More detailed history of the Swansea-Cork night motorships.
City of Dublin SP Co - History of the Dublin Company, taken over by B&I in 1919.
Burns & Laird Line Pages:-
G & J Burns Paddlesteamers - Ardrossan-Belfast day services.
Burns & Laird Turbines - Ardrossan-Belfast day services.
Burns & Laird Motorships - Glasgow-Belfast and Dublin night services.
Burns & Laird Car Ferries - Irish Sea car ferry services between Ardrossan-Belfast.
Other Coast Lines Pages:-
Harland & Wolff Motorships - 13 superb night boats built at the Belfast yard.
Coast Lines Car Ferries - Irish Sea car ferry services from Liverpool and Ardrossan.
The B&I Line: by Hazel P.Smyth - Gill & Macmillan 1984
Across the Irish Sea: by Robert Sinclair - Conway Maritime 1990
Irish Passenger Steamship Services - Volumes 1 & 2: by D.B.McNeil - David & Charles 1969
The primary information source on Coast Lines remains the classic Duckworth and Langmuir book Clyde and other Coastal Steamers, first published 1939 and revised in 1977. Both editions are necessary since many earlier vessels are omitted from the later edition. A November 1999 publication, Ships in Focus - Burns and Laird by Colin Campbell and Roy Fenton, is a magnificent photo album of this line, and one hopes further volumes on other Coast Lines constituents will appear. Across the Irish Sea by Robert C. Sinclair is an excellant history of the Belfast SS Co, which of necessity includes many details of the other Irish Sea routes. Passenger Ships of the Irish Sea 1919-1969 by Laurence Liddle is an interesting book covering all services. It has many fascinating personal memories, and good colour photographs. The definitive history of Coast Lines is still to be written, although a recent book by Norman Middlemiss entitled Coast Lines is a readable brief overview, but subject to errors. A series of books on the Irish Boats by Malcolm MacRonald is finally filling this gap (first two volumes published in 2006 by Tempus).
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Other names

 Classic  Magic, Killarney, Attiki

 Heroic  Lady Connaught (1), Longford (2)

 Graphic  Lady Munster, Louth (2), Ulster Duke

 Lion  Baroness M, Portelet

 Magic  Classic, Killarney, Attiki

 Patriotic  Lady Leinster, Lady Connaught (2), Lady Killarney

 Ulster Duke  Graphic, Lady Munster, Louth (2)

 Ulster Monarch  

 Ulster Queen  Poseidon

 Viper  Snaefell

Coast Lines Fleet Postcards
The following postcard, one of my favourites, shows the fleet in the late 1950s, when passenger services were run by the sturdy fleet of Harland & Wolff motorships.
Link to an enlarged copy of the card above
This postcard shows the fleet a few years later, since the 1960 St Clair of the "North Company" has been added (the "North Company" was taken over in 1961). This scan was supplied by Alain Skelding, to whom many thanks.
Link to an enlarged copy of the card above
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