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New Zealand - House flags of shipping companies

Last modified: 2002-11-09 by sam lockton
Keywords: new zealand | houseflag | shaw savill and albion | stars: 4 | star: 5 points (white) |
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Shaw, Savill and Albion

Shaw Savill and Albion houseflag
by António Martins, September 1998

The first National Flag of New Zealand was adopted as a house flag by Shaw, Savill and Albion, later part of Furness Withy who ran shipping services between U.K., Australia and N.Z. It was still in use in the mid-seventies, but I don’t know about now.
[anon.], 28 March 97

In fact, there are several differences between the first National flag of New Zealand and the Shaw, Savill and Albion flag — fimbriation, number of points on stars. But it does seem likely that the first National flag of NZ was the inspiration for the Shaw Savill flag, though there are apparently (company histories) no records about who adopted or adapted the flag for Shaw Savill, or why.
Stuart Park, 1 April 1997

The reason for the adoption of a very similar flag by Shaw Savill is not clear — presumably they meant to identify with the 1834 flag. Perhaps they just wanted to simplify it (no fimbriation and the 6 pointed stars of the Admiralty version).
Stuart Park, 9 November 1996

The 1959 edition of Flags, Funnels and Hull Colours by Colin Stewart [ste59] shows the Shaw, Savill and Albion house flag as having six-pointed stars.
Al Fisher, 12 December 1998

Shaw Savill & Albion Co. Ltd. was a British company, not New Zealand, being based in London and being formed c. 1882/3 by the amalgamation of Shaw Savill & Co. and the Albion Line of Patrick Henderson & Co. In 1985 it was fully absorbed into Furness Withy (Shipping) Ltd. According to "The New Zealand Ensign" (published by the N.Z. Department of Internal Affairs 1965), the Shaw Savill version of the 1st New Zealand National flag was probably adopted in 1858 (on the formation of Shaw Savill & Co.) but they do not give any reasons and the date of adoption is given by another source as 1862. The New Zealand National Flag had since become the British Union Flag (6.2.1840) so the design did not conflict with any official British flag though, as stated by Stuart Park, it was not, in any case, an exact replica. In actual fact a very similar flag to that of Shaw Savill with stars similar to the FOTW image but with 3 of them angled and only that in the 4th quarter appearing as in the image, was flown by Colonel William Wakefield on the "Tory" in 1839 with a photo of the actual hand made flag appearing in this publication (apparently it was made on the basis of an incomplete description published in the New South Wales Gazette of 19.8.1835) which also depicts the company provided image as showing a wider main cross and the stars being squatter with the upper and lower side point sides being on the horizontal line, compared with the FOTW image. A swallow tailed version was flown by the fleet commodore.
Neale Rosanoski, 3 October 2002

Union Steamship Company of New Zealand

Union Steamship houseflag
by Alvin Fisher and Antonio Martins, 21 March 2000

This flag was originally adopted in the year 1875. As for the Union Steam Ship Company itself, it was a highly successful shipping institution dealing with both passenger and freight transportation in New Zealand and between New Zealand and other Pacific countries. At its height, in 1914, it operated the largest fleet of its type in the southern hemisphere. In 1917, it was acquired by the Peninsula and Orient (P&O) company, under whose control it performed only moderately. In 1972, it came under the control of a Australasian company before being bought by Brierley Investments, a well-known New Zealand group, in the 1980s. By this time, the company was only a fraction of its former size. When the shipping industry in New Zealand was opened up to foreign craft, which operated much more cheaply than the Union Steam Ship Company could afford to do, the operation became unprofitable. Brierley Investments wound up its shipping concerns near the beginning of the 1990s.The
company and its flag, are now defunct.
Thomas Robinson, 3 January 2001

Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd. was formed in 1875 and at one stage was the largest shipping company in the Southern Hemisphere. The flag (I hold an actual) depicted is slightly incorrect in that the panel of the Union Flag was not edged i.e. the red of the Union merges with the field and the "o" of "Co" is slightly smaller and is enhanced with several sources incorrectly show a dot under it. In 1987 the company changed its name to Union Shipping New Zealand Ltd. with a change of the flag in that the letters became "U" (hoist), "S" (fly) and "N.Z." (base). These details are taken from an actual flag. The company finally ceased operating in 2001.
Neale Rosanoski, 3 October 2002

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