In 1838 two brothers, Nicol & Robert Handyside set up business in Glasgow as ship brokers and merchants trading with Russia and the Baltic ports. Towards the end of 1852 Thomas Henderson, an experienced ship master, joined the firm. It was not until 1856 that the title of Anchor Line was adopted and the service between Glasgow and New York inaugurated. In 1855 three clipper ships were delivered and on the 3rd. April of that year the TEMPEST, with John Henderson (younger brother of Thomas) in command sailed for Bombay. She was the first ship of the fleet to be converted to a steamship in 1856. Her initial performance was not spectacular as it took her 28 days to cross the Atlantic. With the Glasgow-New York service well established the company looked around for new routes. The Calcutta service was opened by the BELGRAVIA from Glasgow in 1882. It was not until 1948 that the company’s eastern passenger service became properly organized. In April of that year the CALEDONIA (V) sailed on her maiden voyage to Bombay. The CALEDONIA and CIRCASSIA were not far behind. These three motor ships carried 300 First Class passengers and were able to maintain a regular monthly service.
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