18th March 1854

Captain Alexander Allan dies in Glasgow

Alexander Allan started with nothing and built up what became the world’s largest privately owned shipping empire. He originally trained as a shoemaker, but went to sea in the early 1800s and, just a few years later, was already part-owner of his first ship.

He set up a regular freight shipping route between Scotland and Canada, which was more involved than the equivalent job would be today. As well as plotting a route and piloting his ship from one end of the journey to the other, he was also responsible for selling the cargo on behalf of his customers.

Allan’s own ships

Over the next few years he commissioned several ships to increase the size of his fleet and its capacity to transport cargo. His sons joined the company, eventually giving Alexander the opportunity to step back from active involvement in the cargo transport itself, while keeping a close association with the company on land.

The sons continued to build the company following his death in 1854 and, two years later, it was awarded the Royal Mail contract to carry post to and from North America.



Other events that occured in March

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