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British History/Passenger Freight Information post WWII between Englang (London) and India (Calcutta)


QUESTION: Could you please shed some light on the passenger ship options between Calcutta and London in the year 1946/1947? Which options were there? Did the Union Castle Line have regular ships back then? Was passing around the Cape of Good Hope/Africa the only option? Which routes were followed? What was the duration of the journey? Thanks in advance for your help!

ANSWER: Hello Ayan.
The most popular shipping line operating between Calcutta and London after WW II was British India (BI), a subsidiary of P&O. Union Castle did not operate a service to India.
The route was through the Suez Canal and took about 18-19 days depending on weather and the time of year.
I've found a brochure from 1938 which gives the route as Calcutta-Madras-Colombo-Aden-Suez-Port Said-Malta-Marsailles-Tangier-London.


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QUESTION: Thanks Mark! Could you also give me the full form of the abbreviation - P&O, and the price in Pounds/Indian Rupees for such a trip, First Class, along with any details the brochure might have as to what is complementary, comes as a part of the trip? Anything to shed light on such a trip will be of great help? Thanks in advance for your help!

P.S: Could a copy of the said brochure be acquired/emailed to me? I needed to zero in on a date in 1947, preferably March where such a trip was actually happening. I'm guessing such trips probably happened once a week, on a Sunday, from India. What do you think?

P&O stands for Peninsular and Oriental. The best website is if you go there you can ask the site for further information as it only shows the timetable front cover on the website.
A good place to look for sailing times are newspapers from the period, they will give details on prices and departure point and times etc.

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Mark Smith


I have a good basic knowledge of British political history, but my speciality is the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland from 927 AD. Please no social history questions, it's not my strong point and I'm unlikely to answer them.


No professional experience, but a lifelong interest and access to a variety of sources of information.

"A" level in History.

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