Guide to the Records of Australasian United Steam Navigation Company (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Australasian United Steam Navigation Company
Records of the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1887 - 1961
Collection Number
27 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

1. Correspondence 1949-53.

2. Directors' meetings, minute-books and agenda books 1887-1939.

3. Voyage and foreign journals 1887-1932.

4. Ledgers 1937-48 and annual reports and accounts 1887-1959.

5. Papers 1960-61 of B.R.T. Greer, a director of the company, concerning the merger between AUSN Co and Macdonald Hamilton & Co.

6. Papers 1917-61 of Company Secretary.

7. Records 1903-16 of Eastern and Australian Steamship Co.

Correspondents include Lord Inchcape, Sir William Currie, Lord Huntingfield, B.R.T. Greer, Lord Simon, R. Loubser, I. Brodie, R. Macdonald and N. Campbell.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the London Metropolitan Archives. For more information contact London Metropolitan Archives Enquiry service [].

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the London Metropolitan Archives and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the London Metropolitan Archives and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: Western Australasian Trade Section Minute Book. 22 April 1895- 12 October 1904, London Metropolitan Archives. MS 16512 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1983 (AJCP Reels: M1846-M1853). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Guildhall Library, London, England.

Currently held at the London Metropolitan Archives, London. For more information see: London Metropolitan Archives (

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding-aid Notes

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Australasian United Steam Navigation Company; Brodie, I.; Campbell, N.; Clarke, W.J.T.; Currie, Sir William; Eastern and Australian Steamship Company; Greer, B.R.T.; Loubser, R.; Macdonald Hamilton & Co; Macdonald, R.; Mackay, James L., 1st Earl Inchcape; Shipping; Shipping lines; Simon, John, 2nd Baron; Vanneck, William C.A., 5th Baron Huntingfield


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 14, p5.

Biographical / Historical

The Australasian United Steam Navigation Company was formed in 1887 as a result of a merger between the Queensland Steamship Company (a subsidiary of the British India Steam Navigation Company) and the Australasian Steam Navigation Company. Five of the original eight shareholders were British India men, including its Chairman, Sir William Mackinnon. The great majority of subsequent shareholders were British investors, only 259 £50 shares being taken up in Australia. The Company, with 46 vessels, was one of the largest of the coastal shipping companies in Australia.

From 1887 to 1925 the A.U.S.N. prospered, its earnings and profits growing steadily. Its tonnage reached a peak in 1914. Its ships, which carried both passengers and freight, covered most of the Australian coast-line and there were also monthly services to New Caledonia and Fiji. After World War 1 the passenger trade declined and by 1937 only three A.U.S.N. ships carried passengers. The loss of Queensland mail contracts in the 1920s was a blow to the Company. Increasingly the Company depended on investments rather than shipping: by 1940 the value of its investments other than in shipping exceeded the value of its vessels. However, the bulk of the capital was still held by British India men, particularly Lord Inchape and his family, who were not prepared to give up the Australian coastal service.

Increased competition, especially from the Australian National Line and from road and rail transport, industrial unrest and other problems led to a sharp decline in earnings in 1957-59. In 1960 the Inchape Group (formed in 1958), which held 41% of the shares, bought out the other shareholders. In 1961, on the advice of its Australian agents, Macdonald, Hamilton & Co., A.U.S.N. sold its remaining four ships. However, the Company continued its workshops and engineering activities in Australia and retained shipping trade investments.

Reference: N.L. McKellar. From Derby round to Burketown: the A.U.S.N. story (Brisbane, University of Queensland Press, 1977).

Item Descriptions

Series. Australasian United Steam Navigation Company - general records, 1887 - 1961

23 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1846-M1851.

Correspondence concerning meetings of holders of debenture stock and appointment of trustees (2 files), 1949 - 1950 (File 1/1)

Receipts and correspondence concerning redemption of debenture stock (1 bundle), 1952 (File)

Memorandum of articles of association, 4 March 1887 (File 1/2)

General meetings agenda book, 31 October 1887 - 13 July 1937 (File)

Register of mortgages or charges created by A.U.S.N. Co, 1898 - 1939 (File)

Directors' meetings minute book, 11 March 1887 - 4 February 1903 (File 1/3)

Directors' meetings minute book, 4 March 1903 - 4 November 1942 (File 1/4)

Directors' meetings agenda book, 11 March 1887 - 1 March 1899 (File 1/5)

Directors' meetings agenda book, 17 May 1899 - 5 June 1939 (File 1/6)

Debenture stockholders' meetings minute book, 28 February 1898 - 7 February 1949 (File 1/7)

Register of shareholders, 1887 - 1903 (File 1/9)

Newspaper cuttings and correspondence with A.U.S.N. (Aust) Pty. Ltd. (Sydney) and Macdonald, Hamilton & Co. (Sydney) (1 file), 1956 - 1961 (File 1/17)

Mainly concerning trading operations of members of the Associated Steamship Owners.

Correspondence with A.U.S.N. (Aust) Pty. Ltd. (Sydney) and Macdonald, Hamilton & Co. (Sydney) (1 file), 1933 - 1953 (File)

Concerning the purchase of shares in James Patrick & Co. Pty.Ltd. in 1933 and the dividends, taxes and general operation of James Patrick & Co. Pty.Ltd.

Correspondence and cables concerning the withdrawal of A.U.S.N. Co. from the Associated Steamship Owners, the merger of A.U.S.N. Co. and Inchcape & Co. Ltd., and the future of the Company in Australia, 1960 (File 1/18)

Correspondents include Lord Inchcape, Sir William Currie, Lord Huntingfield, Lord Simon, B.R.T. Greer, R. Loubser, I. Brodie (Sydney) and R. Macdonald (Brisbane).

Printed annual reports and accounts (2 bundles), 1887 - 1959 (File 2/1-2)

Ledger, records earning of ships (1 vol.), 1937 - 1948 (File 2/23)

Ledger accounts, 1937 - 1946 (File 2/24)

Voyage and foreign journal, 1887 - 1894 (File 2/28)

Voyage and foreign journal, 1894 - 1903 (File 2/29)

Voyage and foreign journal, 1903 - 1911 (File 2/30)

Voyage and foreign journal, 1912 - 1920 (File 2/31)

Voyage and foreign journal, 1921 - 1930 (File 2/32)

Voyage and foreign journal, 1931 - 1932 (File 2/33)

Series. Papers of B.R.T. Greer, a director of A.U.S.N. Co., 1960 - 1961

2 items

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1852.

Minutes of meetings and correspondence concerning the merger between A.U.S.N. Co. and Macdonald Hamilton & Co, 1960 - 1961 (File Greer 1)

Correspondents include Lord Inchcape, N. Campbell, A. Mackinnon and I. Brodie (Sydney).

Correspondence concerning reorganization of A.U.S.N. Co., withdrawal from Associated Steamship Owners, takeover by Inchcape Group, sale of ships, and compensation for redundant staff, 1956 - 1961 (File Greer 2)

Correspondents include Lord Inchcape, A.E. Giles, N. Campbell, R.F.S. Loubser, S. Taylor, I. Brodie (Sydney), N. Pixley (Sydney) and R. Macdonald (Brisbane).

Series. Records held by Company Secretary, 1917 - 1961

1 item

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1853.

Register of probate of A.U.S.N. Co. share and debenture-holders, 1917 - 1961 (File)

Series. Records of Eastern and Australian Steamship Company, 8 December 1903 - January 1916

1 item

Archival History

Originally filmed on AJCP Reel M1853.

Directors' meetings minute book, 8 December 1903 - January 1916 (File)