Isle of Man Steam Packet Company reflects on 190 year history


The world’s oldest continually operating passenger shipping company, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, will mark its 190th anniversary today (Tuesday 30th June 2020).

The Company, which was established on 30th June 1830, began with a wooden paddle steamer known as Mona's Isle which was launched from John Wood & Co’s yard, on the River Clyde in Glasgow, at a cost of £7,052. She arrived in Douglas Harbour in the Isle of Man and sailed her maiden passenger crossing in mid-August that year. The Company has been transporting passengers and cargo to and from the Isle of Man ever since.

Over the course of its history, it has experienced the modernisation of ferry travel, played a part in both World War I and II, overseen various ownership transfers, and, of course, maintained vital sea links from the Isle of Man to England and Ireland for nearly two centuries.

To celebrate the occasion, its fleet - made up of conventional ferry Ben-my-Chree and fast craft Manannan - will sound their whistles in its home port of Douglas Harbour at 6pm on Tuesday (30th June), while decked out in celebratory bunting.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward explained: ‘It is with great pride that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will celebrate its 190th anniversary this year. Looking back, the Company was launched at a time where there was lots of competition on the Irish Sea, but the management and crew were dedicated to securing a stable and reliable service to the Isle of Man, and that’s a legacy we do all we can to uphold to this day.’

‘The long history of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is both fascinating and diverse, and it’s certainly a history we are proud of.’

This milestone anniversary lands on a year of reflection for the Company which, just a few weeks ago, also marked 80 years since the evacuation of Dunkirk which saw approximately 340,000 servicemen saved from the French coastline. It is estimated that 25,000 troops returned via the requisitioned Steam Packet Company ships.   

Mr Woodward concluded: ‘This year has been another one for the history books, but now we take time to celebrate the past 190 years and toast to many more.’