27th May 2022

The Liverpool Black Ball Line of Australian packets

Backmark: L. Williams, Liverpool. I have not been able to find out anything about this backmark.

Museums Victoria collection: “Black Ball” Line ticket, 1862.

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.

The Argus (Melbourne), 10th March 1853 page 2.

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 the line continued trading using chartered ships until 1871.

The Sydney Mail, 17th January 1934 page 10.

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