top of page

Elder Dempster

Elder Dempster 

The founders of the Elder Dempster name are Alexander Elder (born 1834) and John Dempster (born 1837). They began trading as Elder Dempster and Company on 1st October 1868, developing shipping interests in North America, the Caribbean and South Africa.


The company absorbed the African Steam Ship Company and the British and African Steam Navigation Company in 1932, to become known as Elder Dempster Lines. The African Steam Ship Company had been granted a royal charter in 1852, for communication services between Britain and West Africa, therefore Elder Dempster’s origin lies is 1852. 


During the First World war, 36 Elder Dempster vessels and 417 personnel were lost. Similarly, during the Second World War, Elder Dempster lost over half its tonnage and 478 personnel. West African crews were particularly affected, especially those working in the ship’s engine room. 


In 1952, Elder Dempster Lines acquired control of the Paddy Henderson Line serving Burma, with trade peaking in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1960s, The Ocean Steam Ship Co. controlled both Elder Dempster Lines and Blue Funnel Line, after which, ships and staff became more interchangeable between the companies. 


Elder Dempster Lines was eventually purchased by Delmas-Vieljeux in 1989, where it continued as a shipping agent before it ceased trading on 8th May 2000.  It had operated from several ports, but there were offices were based in Liverpool. Over its history, the company operated over 500 ships, and was one of the largest shipping companies to serve West Africa. The first was Forerunner in 1852 and the last was Menelaus.  

Elder Dempster Gallery

bottom of page