Ships of the past

Delve into our archive of ships of the past, consisting of a range of ships with interesting and intriguing histories.

A maritime history archive

One of oldest recorded types of transportation, and first built thousands of years ago, vessels have been used for varying reasons throughout history. To transport passengers and cargo, defense and support for military and forces, and for leisure. Today the boats and ships we know of are built using the most cutting edge technology and engineering, but some of those principles were initially conceived many years ago.

Here you can find the fact files on each of the ships of the past. With information about the build, deployment and ownership, each ship has a colourful and interesting past.

Get started by clicking on the ship you’d like to find out more about below.


The Glasgow-built Cunard liner RMS Umbria was a pioneer in several ways – including the use of refrigeration and experiments in the transmission of news telegrams by radio – but also goes down in history for being the last of its kind in other respects.


Built at the Alexander Stephen yard on the Clyde, the 8,687grt Glasgow-registered steamship Golfito took the title of the largest and fastest British ‘banana boat’ when delivered to Elders & Fyffes some 70 years ago.


The Dutch passenger/cargoship Aldabi had a turbulent introduction into service – being seized by Germany following the invasion of the Netherlands in 1941.


Launched in June 1963, the Blue Funnel passenger- cargo vessel Centaur had unusual looks that reflected some of the demands of the service it was specially designed to operate on.


The Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishment ship Resurgent was one of two sisters that were intended for service as passenger/cargo liners with the China Navigation Company but were bought by the Admiralty only a year after their completion in 1951.

Tokyo Bay

In the mid 1960s, the British shipping companies P&O, Ocean Steam Ship, Furness Withy and British & Commonwealth combined to form Overseas Containers Ltd (OCL) in a strategy to generate the huge funds needed to containerise shipping services between Europe, the Far East and Australia.

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