The Liverpool Black Ball Line of Australian packets
Despite a “Black Ball Line” plying a tran-Atlantic trade from 1817, James Baines & Co also named their line of packet ships traveling from Liverpool to Melbourne as the Black Ball Line, which was cheeky to say the least. The ships carried cargo and passengers from 1851 with the ship ‘Marco Polo’, expanding with another four ships during the gold rush.
From 1860 , with trade to Melbourne dwindling, they had a monopoly in bringing people to the Queensland colony. At that time they had a fleet of 86 ships. Unfortunately, the ships were often dirty, crowded and poorly ventilated. Many of the ships had to be sold in 1866 due to the firm’s bank failing, but it continued trading using chartered ships until 1871.
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