Records of Ellerman & Papayanni Lines Ltd, shipowners, Liverpool, England

Scope and Content

  • Minutes 1930-1950;
  • Share records 1932-1947;
  • Financial records 1968-1972;
  • Agency records 1934;
  • Voyage records 1884-1932;
  • Photographs 1930s-1940s;
  • Notes on ships, undated;
  • Vessel particulars 1856-1937.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ellerman & Papayanni Lines Ltd was established in Liverpool, England, in 1832  , by the Greek Papayanni brothers as Papayanni & Co , shipowners. The company operated between Liverpool, Malta, Egypt, the Levant and Black Sea. The company built its first steamer, the Arcadian, in 1854, and the results achieved by this vessel led to their fleet of schooners being replaced by steamers of a similar type.

When the American Civil War stopped grain imports from the United States, the company supplied the deficiency by building up a big business in grain from south-eastern Europe. Although their ships were small, they were as big as the Danube and Black Sea ports could accommodate and each carried 30-40 passengers. Between the grain seasons they brought cotton from Egypt, and maintained two regular services.

The firm was incorporated as Papayanni Steamship Co Ltd in 1897  with the original family still in control. However, the new company had not the capital to modernise their fleet and accepted Sir John Ellerman's offer to purchase the business. Ellerman was chairman of London, Liverpool & Ocean Shipping Company Ltd , from 1902 known as Ellerman Lines Ltd . Ellerman Lines also acquired many of the Papayanni Lines rival companies, such as City Line Ltd and Hall Line Ltd . The Papayanni Steamship Co Ltd had enjoyed a privileged position amongst merchants owing to their directors' personal connections in the Mediterranean and the new management thereby acquired an influential position in the Mediterranean trade. In 1906, Papayanni Steamship Co Ltd became Ellerman & Papayanni Lines Ltd .

These companies all came together under the Ellerman flag and adopted the Ellerman funnel colours of buff with a white band and black top. Rather than being in competition, the companies now worked together. The older City Line passenger vessels were transferred to the Mediterranean services and remained popular with tourists until they were replaced by modern vessels built for the Ellerman & Papayanni Line Ltd. The Papayanni Line at this time offered a two-month Mediterranean cruise for å£33 or a six-month ticket for å£50 that allowed the holder to use any of the Ellerman group of companies ships during that time.

The outbreak of the 1914-1918 World War saw the government requisition a large number of the Ellerman fleet for use as troop carriers, munitions carriers, or for conversion into war ships. The Ellerman group of companies continued to operate a skeletal service with the ships it had left. After the war, the immediate aim of the Ellerman group was to secure sufficient tonnage to restore a level of service comparable to the group's old standards which lead to the purchase of several German liners as well as new tonnage being ordered. The passenger services to Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the Far East were soon re-established and the network of cargo services restored.

By 1939, the Ellerman group of companies owned 105 ships capable of carrying a combined 920,000 tons making Ellerman's one of the biggest fleets in the world. They had 4 classes of ship: cargo ships with space for a considerable number of passengers, cargo ships with limited passenger accommodation; pure cargo ships, and short sea traders for the Mediterranean and Iberian services.

Prior to the 1939, the Papayanni Line was operating services from Liverpool, Portugal and various Mediterranean ports

The 1939-1945 World War saw many Ellerman ships requisitioned for Government service while a number of ships were retained to continue as cargo vessels bringing supplies to the United Kingdom and government departments. Forty-one ships were sunk by submarines, 7 by air attacks, 3 by mines and 1 by surface raider. In total, 60 ships were lost from the Ellerman group fleet out of 105.

Following the war, a new building programme was undertaken, with the City of Bristol being the first new ship. A new policy of building fast steam cargo liners that held no more than 12 passengers who were to travel in style and comfort with similar standards for crew accommodation was implemented. The company concentrated on re-establishing their world wide trade routes and purchased from the Government 12 cargo ships which the company had managed during the war. By 1952, Ellerman group of companies had 25 of these new style 12-passenger ships and had restored the bulk of their pre-war services with a total of 45 new vessels and a further 14 for the Portuguese trade and Mediterranean services. By 1953, the fleet had a total of 94 ships with a carry capacity of 900,000 tons.

In 1993  , Ellerman & Papayanni Lines Ltd became Papayanni Lines Ltd and was dissolved in 1996  .

Sources: UGD 131/1/60/1/5 The Journal of Commerce: Ellerman Line Number (January 1953) and UGD 131/1/60/1/2 Ellerman brochure (c1948)


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

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift : 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

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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



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Additional Information

This material is original

Amended by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 30 January 2008