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Friday, 7 January 2011

Why is P&O called P&O?

I thought I’d share a bit of pub trivia with you today, ready for your next cruise. Do you know what the initials P&O stand for and where the name comes from?

P&O, as we know them today, used to just be called the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company, (I wonder if anyone used to call them P&N?). It was started in 1822 by a man called Brodis Mcghie Willcox, a London ship broker and Arthur Anderson a sailor from the Shetland Islands. At this time they were primarily operating between England, Spain and Portugal. But, in 1835 a Dublin ship owner, called Richard Bourne, joined the business and between them they started to operate in the Iberian Peninsula, with services between Vigo, Oporto, Lisbon and Cadiz. It’s funny looking back at these old destinations as most ‘modern’ cruisers would recognise these itineraries. It was during this time that the P&O flag that we know from today was adopted; the colours directly sourced from the peninsular flags – The white and blue to represent the Portuguese flag of the time and the yellow and red for the Spanish flag.

One of the most iconic ‘British’ brands we have left and it turns out the company logo is mad up of foreign flags!

In 1840 the current name of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was first used, incorporated by Royal charter to deliver the mail to Alexandria in Egypt. It’s for this reason, (the Royal Charter), that P&O never used Plc or limited in their name.
Interestingly P&O also once owned a bank for a short time, the P&O bank, opened in 1920 and then sold in 1927.
Well, that’s all the P&O trivia I’ve got for you at the moment, hopefully it might come in useful the next time you’re doing a pub quiz on a P&O ship and if anyone else has any more interesting trivia fell free to add it below.

Happy Cruising

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