Records of The Petrograd Steamers Limited, shipping company, Edinburgh, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Voyage account books 1878-1922;
  • Petrograd Steamers Ltd account book 1922-1939;
  • Agreements and accounts of crew 1876-1913;
  • Official log books 1904-1909;
  • Photographs - ships, late 19th century- early 20th century;
  • Embossing seal, early 20th century.

Administrative / Biographical History

In  Wm Thomson & Co 1878  entered into a partnership with James Jordan (Leith merchant and partner in James Miller & Co, merchants and millowners in Russia), to establish a Baltic trade route. The first ships purchased for this route were  Petersburg I (in the fleet 1878-1891) and  Stirling (1878-1881), followed by  Czar (1879-1898) and  Moscow I (1881-1890). In  1889  these ships were incorporated as The Leith and St Petersburg Shipping Company. Therafter the following ships were purchased:  Moscow II (1891-1916),  Petersburg II (1891-1924 but renamed  Petrograd 1916),  Reval (1898-1924),  Cronstadt (1907-1923) and  Ladoga (1914-1918). This company shared the same Leith offices as Wm Thomson & Co at 63 Constitution Street and 28 Bernard Street from about 1890, and the ships appear as owned and managed by Wm Thomson & Co in the records. Following the Russian revolution in 1917 and the death of James Jordan in 1918 it seems that Wm Thomson & Co took full control of the company. Thereafter ships purchased were  Twilight (1918-1919, but renamed  Onega I 1919),  Cramond (1919-1921),  Onega II (1920-1927),  Kara (1921-1927) and  Kotka (1925-1931, but renamed  Benvrackie II in 1927). In  1921  the company was renamed  The Petrograd Steamers Limited. Wm Thomson & Co continued to own and manage it until it was dissolved in  1941 , although in practice the Baltic business did not continue for much longer after 1918 and continued ownership appears to have been for financial reasons, with its finances being used to fund Ben Line ships. It is for this reason that  Kotka was renamed as  Benvrackie II in 1927, and the following ships were purchased by, and accounted for by, The Petrograd Steamers:  Benmacdhui I (1923-1931),  Bencruachan I (1928-1941, but sold to Ben Line 1941),  Benlawers III (1930-1940),  Benvannoch II (1931-1935),  Bendoran II (1931-1944, but sold to Ben Line 1941) and  Benrinnes II (1938-1949, but sold to Ben Line 1941). These ships, as evidenced in their naming and in the voyage account books as well as in written histories of the Thomson company, apparantly operated as part of the Ben Line fleet, and as such their records appear with the rest of the Ben Line records rather than with those of the Petrograd Steamers.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift : E G Thomson (Holdings) Ltd : June 2013 : ACCN 3773

Gift : E G Thomson (Holdings) Ltd : February 2013 : ACCN 3744

Transfer : Edinburgh University Library : June 2006 : ACCN 2949

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

All Materials held by Ben Line Group Limited until it was wound down in 2000. Thereafter transfered to and held by E G Thomson (Holdings) Ltd until deposit at GUAS, with exception of ACCN 2949, containing voyage account books and voyage account boxes, which were held by Edinburgh University Library until transfer to GUAS in 2006.


None expected

Related Material

Records of parent company Wm Thomson & Co and sister companies in GB 248 UGC 199

Location of Originals

This material is original


Somner, G.Ben Line: Fleet List and Short History. Kendal, England: World Ship Society , 1st edition 1967 , 2nd edition 1980 .Blake, G.The Ben Line - The History of a Merchant Fleet, 1825-1955. Edinburgh: Wm Thomson & Co , 1970 .Strachan, M.The Ben Line 1825-1982. Norwich: Michael Russell , 1992 .Somner, G.Ben Line. Preston: Ships in Focus Publications , 2009 .

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Neil Ogg, Ben Line Archive Cataloguer, 2015. Lower level description compiled by Neil Ogg, Ben Line Archive Cataloguer, 2015.

Family Names