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Aberdeen Line History and Ephemera

Passenger Lists - Aberdeen Line - Available at the Archives

The Aberdeen Line operated steamships covering the route between London, South Africa and Austraila.

Thompson's Aberdeen Line of steamers is a direct descendant of one of the most famous of the clipper lines. The Aberdeen Line commissioned two magnificent sisters in 1922, Diogenes and Sophocles.

Sophocles was transferred on charter to Shaw, Savill in 1926. Demosthenes followed the current White Star idea of being engined with triple-expansions and a low-pressure turbine.

Bringing Immigrants to Australia via South Africa

The steamships in this line travel via South Africa; the passengers are never subjected to extremes of temperature; and the time of journey if forty-six to fifty days.

Departures from London are at regular three-week intervals, in accordance with time-table printed for the whole year, which is strictly adhered to. The accommodation is for first and third class passengers, and the cabins for the latter, which are either on the upper deck or 'tween decks, are lofty and well lighted.

Passengers are not required to provide anything in the way of bedding, table or cabin appointments, which are provided by the Line on a very comfortable scale.


Typical Third Class, 4-Berth Cabin of the Aberdeen Line circa 1907

As with all the most modern vessels, refrigerator chambers guarantee fresh provisions throughout the voyage, while the general rooms and cabins are lighted throughout with electric light.

A full staff of stewards and stewardesses attend to passengers' comfort, while in the event of sickness, the ship's medical officer attends free of charge, medicines being supplied free, as may be necessary. The ports of call between London and Sydney are Plymouth, Teneriffe, Cape Town, and Melbourne. (Note 1)

The Aberdeen Line was founded in 1824, and long occupied a prominent place in the Australian trade with its fleet of fast-sailing clippers.

The present fleet, however, consists entirely of steamers, and of these the Themistocles and Demosthenes, of 12,000 tons, are the most famous, the latter being the first turbine steamer trading between England and Australia.

The journey is made round the Cape of Good Hope, and, besides cargo, first- and third-class passengers are carried. (Note 2)

Aberdeen Line Collection

Vintage Menus

Menu Items, SS Demosthenes, Aberdeen Line 1927

SS Demosthenes Dinner Menu Card - 13 February 1927

Vintage Dinner Menu Card from 13 February 1927 on board the SS Demosthenes of the Aberdeen Line featured Fried Sole, Tomato Sauce, Roast Sirloin of Beef & Horseradish, and Plum Tart & Cream for dessert. The reverse side contained a daily progress report of distance traveled and weather conditions.

Information about the Aberdeen Steamship Line

Aberdeen Line operated routes From London and Plymouth to South Africa and Australia. They also offered Round the World Tours and Tours to Victoria Falls and through South Africa.

Fleet of the Aberdeen Line

  • SS Euripides, 15,000 Tons Triple Screw
  • SS Demosthenes, 11,500 Tons, Triple Screw
  • SS Themistocles, 11,500 Tons, Twin Screw
  • SS Sophocles, 12,500 Tons, Twin Screw
  • SS Diogenes, 12,500 Tons, Twin Screw

Note 1: New South Wales -The Mother State of Australia: A Guide For Immigrants and Settlers, 1906, Issued by The Intelligence Department, Authority of the Government of the State of New South Wales.

Note 2: All About Ships, Second Edition, Lt. Henry Taprell Dorling, R.N. , Cassell and Company, Ltd. New York, 1912, Page 141

Brief History of the Aberdeen Line

George Thompson started a line of vessels to trade between England and Australia, and this service, now called the "Aberdeen Line," is well and honourably known as one of the most efficient lines of vessels afloat. Aberdeen Line (Thompson’s).

This company, plying between London and Australia, via the Cape, founded in Aberdeen in 1824. has occupied for three-quarters of a century a prominent position in the Australian cargo and passenger trade; due in the first instance to the runs of their noted clippers to Melbourne and Sydney.

The Aberdeen, built in 1881, was the first ocean steamer to demonstrate decisively the superior merits of triple expansion engines. The total tonnage now only includes one sailing vessel of 3,093 tons, the old clippers having been replaced by modern steamships.

The Afifhades holds the record from I,ondon to Melbourne via the Cape. her steaming time lieing 34 days, actual time from port to port 35 days.


Aberdeen. Marathon. Nineveh.
Australasian. Miltiades. Salamis.
Damascus. Moravian. Diogenes, Sophocles.
Gross tonnage, 44,000.

Portions from Herbert B. Mason, ed. Encyclopaedia of Ships and Shipping (1908) W. H. Smith & Son, London

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