House Flags of Guernsey Shipping Companies

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House Flags are distinguishing flags used by shipping companies to identify their vessels.



House (or company) flags for ships seem to have developed towards the end of the 19th century. They were used to identify a vessel's ownership. In Guernsey the lookout and signal station at St Peter Port would also fly a particular company's house flag when one of that company's vessels was sighted.

Guernsey Shipping Company House Flags

19th Century

A note on terminology; In Guernsey and the United Kingdom in the 19th century ships were often owned by groups of individuals rather than a company in the modern sense. The individuals would each own a number of shares (a vessel was usually divided into 64 shares). There would be a "Managing Owner" who controlled the day to day operation of the vessel. He might manage a number of vessels each owned by a different combination of individuals. Thus "John Marquand & Co" would refer to vessels managed by John Marquand rather than there being a Limited Company of that name.

G. Carrington & Co.

A red flag with a white band across the centre. This is shown in the plate for the company's Edina in Guernsey Sailing Ships 1786 - 1936.

Guernsey Mutual Shipping Insurance Society

Although not a shipping company those ships insured through the Guernsey Mutual flew a special flag. Described in The Guernsey Almanac as a white lozenge on a red ground - the ship's unique society number would be displayed in the centre. Again this can be seen in many images of Guernsey vessels - including those at the Maritime Museum in Castle Cornet. See also the design for Onesimus Dorey & Sons Ltd. below.

J. H. Guilbert

Five equal horizontal stripes. The top middle and bottom in dark blue with two white stripes between them.

J. & P. Taylor

Two vertically divided sections with the part nearest the hoist being white and the fly blue.

John B Marquand & Co.

A blue cross pattée on a white background, the cross having straight arms rather than the usual curved arms of a cross pattée. This can be seen in an image in John W Sarre's Guernsey Sailing Ships 1786 - 1936. This shows the company's barquentine Morning Star (built 1874) on a voyage from Le Havre to Progresso in 1889. This design may have also been the house flag of John Marquand & Co. the predecessor company. It is similar to the House Flag of the contemporary Danish company Svitzer.

Manuelle & Co. and Hamley

A square flag divided diagonally from the top of the hoist to the bottom of the fly. The part nearest hoist being red and the part nearest the fly white.

Onesimus Dorey & Sons Ltd

A white lozenge on a red ground with a blue capital D in the centre. An example is held at the National Maritime Museum and can be viewed here. It is similar to the Guernsey Mutual Insurance Society's flag (see above).

Robins & Co

A blue triangular pennant with an eight pointed white star nearest the hoist (the part of the flag nearest the flagpole).

William Le Lacheur & Co.

This may have been a white swallow tailed flag with a blue symmetric cross with a device at the centre. This flag may be seen in images of the company's vessels such as Herradura and Barranca

20th Century

British Channel Islands Shipping Co. Ltd

A rectangular divided into quarters of two white and two very dark blue. A blue quarter being at the top nearest the hoist. An example is held at the National Maritime Museum and can be viewed here.

Modern Companies

Huelin-Renouf Shipping

A red saltire on a white ground with a blue H in a yellow lozenge at the centre. This may be seen at the companies website.


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