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removal lias been so comparatively little felt speaks higli for the recuperative power of the port, and gives the most promising hope as to its future.
The P. and 0. fleet now numbers Gf> vessels of all kinds, 50 of them mail steam ships, with a total of 128,088 tons and 22,760 horse power of engines, the estimated value being £3,757,220. Although, through the exigencies in the Eastern traffic brought about by the Suez Canal and rival shipping companies, the P. and O. directors have found it necessary to remove their staff and ships hence to London, their vessels still call here to land ami embark mails, and sail from this port every Thursday, for Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Aden, and Bombay ; every alternate Thursday, for Galle, Madras, Calcutta, Penang, Singapore, China, and Japan; and every fourth Thursday, for Australia and New Zealand.
When the Eoyal Mail Company in 1840 entered on its first contract to convey the mails to the whole of the British possessions in the West Indies and North America, with the colonies of Prance, Spain, Holland, Denmark, Mexico, and the Spanish main, ocean steam navigation was in its infancy. It illustrates the spirit with which the aftairs of the company have from the first been conducted that upon a contract for ten years certain they provided fourteen steam ships to effect the service they had undertaken at an outlay of a million sterling, forming the largest and most powerful commercial fleet then known. Their passages commenced in January, 1842, the vessels being surveyed at Southampton and starting from that port upon a stipulated mileage equal to an area of 684,816 per annum, but after a trial of some months, it being apparent that the company had undertaken to perform the work at a ruinous price, the routes were modified, reducing the area to 392,976 miles per annum. Under this scheme, with various alterations from time to time, the mails were carried till 1846, when an amended contract was entered upon; and from that period till the present the company has succeeded, through evil report and good report and the most intense competition, in securing renewals of their contract, after the service has been put up to public tender.
Their fleet now consists of 22 vessels, with a total of 48,000 tons and over 9,000 horse power of engines, the estimated value being J891,412. These steamers, for the necessary repairs of which there are capacious engineering factories in the* Docks, sail from Southampton on the 2nd and 17tli of every month, with
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