Cruise Industry Heroes: Arthur Anderson


A man with sea-faring roots from the youngest age; Arthur Anderson worked as a boy preparing fish on Scottish beaches in the late 18th and early 19th century. He was then forced into service in the Royal Navy by the Crown at the age of 16, as part of a large impressment movement.

Following a decade of service, Anderson found himself destitute in London, before finding work with the London shipping firm owned by Brodie McGhie Willcox. After becoming a partner in this firm, Anderson co-founded the company which would grow to become P&O.

Notable Achievements

Co-founding the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company in 1830 with Willcox, Anderson has had long-lasting influence upon the shipping and cruising industries. In fact, within 40 years of the launch of the company (which quickly became P&O), they boasted the largest fleet of steam ships in the world.


Based out of Streatham, London, Anderson chaired P&O from 1854 until his death in 1868 as well as chairing both the Union Steamship Co and the Crystal Palace Co.

In a life never devoid of achievement, the former sailor also founded the Shetland Journal and the Shetland Fishery Company which encouraged the trade of seafood between Shetland and Spain and the UK mainland. Anderson even served as a radical Liberal MP for the Orkney and Shetland constituency for a number of years.


Arthur Anderson was born in Shetland in 1792 in humble surroundings before making a name for himself in business, politics and the military. At the age of 16, Anderson found himself forced into service in the Royal Navy, fighting the Napoleonic wars, where he served for 10 years before finding himself stranded 600 miles from home in London.

Here he served in his first shipping role, working as a clerk for Brodie McGhie Willcox before becoming a partner in 1822. In 1830, the pair co-founded the regular steamship service, named the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company. This was renamed the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) shortly afterwards when services were expanded to Hong Kong and Australia.

Despite a number of cash crises, the company continued to grow (thanks in part to Government support), and soon became the largest fleet of steamships in the world.

Anderson passed away at the age of 75 in 1868, buried in West Norwood Cemetery in London.


P&O’s shipping branch operated for more than 150 years, before ceasing operations in 2007. However the pleasure cruising branch of the business continues to go from strength to strength, currently operating eight ships in the fleet. The flagship vessel, Britannia, has grown into one of the UK’s most popular ships, thanks to its large Union Jack bow and sleek line, since first launching in 2015.


The P&O Australia brand is also capturing the imagination in the emerging market down under, proving to be one of Oz’s largest cruise lines with five ships currently in service, and another set to join next year.

If you want to pay tribute to Arthur Anderson, Cruise1st stock a huge range of great deals for trips aboard the P&O line. Alternatively, visit our homepage or call our dedicated team on 0808 2746 777 for the full range of cruises from Cruise1st.

Image credits: Aussie Mobs, P&O,


About Author

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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