Records of Thomas Wilson Sons & Co Ltd, shipowners, Kingston-upon-Hull, England, known as Ellerman's Wilson Line

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

  • Ship records 1898-1922;
  • Photographs 1913-1975;
  • Cabin plans 1947-1954;
  • Publicity materials 1925-1961.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1822  , Wilson & Co was established as a shipowning firm in Kingston-upon-Hull, England by John Wilson and initially specialised in the importation of Swedish iron ore for use in the Sheffield iron trades. The company became Wilson, Hudson & Co in c1836  , becoming Thomas Wilson Sons & Co in 1841  . The company prospered, diversified into other trades and, under Thomas Wilson's sons Charles Henry (later 1st Baron Nunburnholme) and Arthur, became the largest privately owned shipping company in the world by the early twentieth century, with over 100 ships sailing to destinations around the globe.

This company was incorporated in 1891  as Thomas Wilson Sons & Co Ltd before being acquired by the Ellerman Lines Ltd , shipowners, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1916  . The Ellerman group of companies included Ellerman City Line Ltd , Ellerman Lines Ltd , Ellerman & Bucknall (Steamships) Co Ltd , Ellerman & Papayanni Lines Ltd and Hall Line Ltd . Even though the Ellerman group acquired the company, it continued to be run independently of the group and was generally known as Ellerman's Wilson Line . The company latterly specialised in luxury cruises from Kingston-upon-Hull and London to Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal, the Mediterranean, India, the USA and Australia. By 1965, the company was operating 24 vessels, all bearing the distinctive Ellerman groups "City of" nomenclature. The company went into demise in the early 1970s  and ceased to trade.


This material is arranged into series as shown in the scope and content. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

None expected

Acquisition Information

Indefinite loan : P&O Containers :London: 1992 : ACCN155*, 159*, 160*

Indefinite loan : 6 February 1992 : ACCN157*

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)3480) and London (NRA17571)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

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

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

Appraisal Information

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

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

GB 050 DEW Business and family papers (Hull University, Brynmor Jones Library)

GB 323 Records of Thomas Wilson Sons & CO Ltd (Hull Maritime Museum)

GB 248 UGD 131/1 Records of City Line Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/2 Records of Ellerman Lines Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/3 Records of Ellerman & Bucknall (Steamships) Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/4 Records of Ellerman & Papayanni Lines Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/5 Records of Ellerman's Arracan Rice & Trading Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/6 Records of Hall Line Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/7 Records of Montgomerie & Workman (1920) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/8 Records of Mossgiel Steamship Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 131/9 Records of Westcott & Laurence Line Ltd

See source list on Shipping and Shipbuilding Industry available via Glasgow University Archive Services homepage at

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Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Amended by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 31 January 2008