14th June 2023

Eastern & Australian Steamship Co.

Backmark:  O’Neill  & Co. Sydney  (Dating until c. 1924)                Kitchener Ltd. Sydney (dating 1911 onwards)

This company’s uniform buttons have also been found backmarked Hughs & Co, Sydney (1891-1934) . See http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/uniform-buttons-2/companies-and-clubs-including-merchantile-marine/#Eastern_Australian_Steam_Ship_Co_E_A

This shipping company was established in 1873 to carrying mail between Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, Queensland and Sydney as the Eastern and Australian Mail Steamship Company Ltd.

The Brisbane Courier, 22nd November 1873.

Mail contracts, such as this one with the Queensland government, were important for shipping companies success. They lost the contract in 1880.
The company was then reformed as the Eastern and Australian Steamship Company Ltd, carrying passengers and cargo. It extended to Hong Kong and Melbourne, China and Japan.

The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 22nd January 1898 page 180. The Australian was the “commodore” ship of the E & A Company at this time.

The company was bought by Lord Inchape, the chairman of P&O, in 1919 but remained an independent entity until 1946, when several shipping firms (including P&O) bought shares. In 1966 it was bought outright by P&O.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 26th July 1919 page 11.

Cruises were suspended during the World Wars. Several E&A ships were casualties of the conflict.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW), 19th April 1946 page 4.


The Canberra Times, 3rd October 1964 page 7.

For Kitchener Ltd: http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/branded-buttons/branded-buttons-tailors-buttons-g-l/#K

For O’Neill & Co: http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/branded-buttons/branded-buttons-tailors-buttons-g-l/#K

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