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China  :  Yangtse and Pearl Rivers
Inland shipping services were dominated by foreign-owned trading companies and ship management companies. Inland river services were primarily on the Yangtse, a major river passing through Shanghai on its long length into central China, and the Pearl River, from the coastal cities of Kong Kong and Macau to the inland city of Canton (now Guangzhou)

Perarl River

The need for links up the Pearl River was prompted by the establishment of Kong Kong as a colony under UK possession in 1842 and it was the newly established trading houses which began to operate primarily cargo services. Jardine, Matheson & Co introduced the first paddle steamer (Corsair, 1846)  which ran in conjunction with the screw ship Midas and the operation was formalised in 1848 into the short-lived Hong Kong & Canton Steam Packet Company.
The Peninsular & Oriental Steamship Company, which had won a mail delivery contract with the British government commencing in 1845 operated a feeder service between Canton and Hong Hong for a short time with vessels Pekin (1847-1866) and Canton (1848-1859, wrecked). The American-owned trading houses of Augustine Heard & Co. and Russell & Co became the dominant players. 

The first major company to be established was the Hong Kong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Company (1865, operating on the Pearl River) with Heard as major shareholder and as company managers. The company was soon able to come to an agreement with Russell & Co leaving the new company in a virtual monopoly position but with the agreement of not competing elsewhere in China. This position was to prove temporary

Other major companies emerged in the 1870s particularly from Yangtse River based operators. Competition from the China Navigation Company led to a market sharing acreement between the Shanghai-based company and the established Hong Kong company effective from 1879 

The Hong Hong company took over a number of US-built paddle steamers which had been in service locally, brought in kit form by trading company Augustine Heard and these were to provide the template for most subsequent paddle steamer purchases by all the operators. Glasgow-based shipbuilder A & J Inglis entered the mushrooming market by becoming suppliers to the two main emergent companies but to do this they were required to follow the design principles which were significantly different to their normal paddle steamer output. This included providing walking beam engines, commonly in use in the USA but not adopted in Europe. 


Developments on the Yangtse River which penetrated deep into mainland China from Shanghai came later than on the pearl River becuse it was not opened up for foreign companies to operate until 1861. It was the trading companies such as Jardine Matheson and Russell & Co who were quick to take advantage, but it was Englishman John Swire and a group of Chinese-led investors who created the two main players in the early 1870s, especially after the latter, the China Merchants' Steam Navigation Company bought out Russell's Shanghai Steam Navigation Company in 1877. 

Above : Pekin, built in 1873 at Glasgow was the largest paddle steamer in gross registered capacity terms built at at UK yard for river and inshore work. She served for almost forty years.
Photo : Published on the internet by the Scottish Built Ships shipbuilding database (ex - Old Ship Picture Galleries)

Hong Kong, Canton & Macao Steamboat Company

Founded in 1865 
Fei Seen
Built by JC Couper at Hong Kong in 1860. Engine by J&G Thomson of Glasgow. 178 ft. Originally built for Lyall, Still & Co.  Sold in 1866, ending up in Japan as Kusoku Maru

Fire Dart
Built by T Collyer at New York in 1860 for Augustine Heard. 200.9 ft. Single cylinder beam engine. Previously operating on the Yangtse. Sold for use in the Philippines in 1870. Lost in a typhoon in 1874 en route from Honk Kong to Manila after a refit
White Cloud (Pak Wan Yun)
Built by T Collyer at New York in 1859. Single beam engine. Taken over from Russell & Co. Wrecked during typhoon at Macau but the engine was recovered for re-use in White Cloud of 1875

Kiu Kiang
Built by John Englis & Son at New York in 1864. 231.6 ft. Single cylinder beam engine. Built for the Shanghai Steam Navigation's Yangtse river services but sold to HC&M, entering service at Hong Kong in 1866. Out of service from 1890 and scrappedt

Built by Roosevelt & Joyce at New York in 1863. Reassembled in by Thomas Hunt & Co at Hong Kong and launched on 30th October 1863 under the ownership of Augustine Heard & Co.
Originally built with twin funnels (spaced abreast) with boilers on the sponsons but refitted with a single funnel and boiler located centrally. Scrapped in 1882

Built by
Roosevelt & Joyce at New York in 1865
233 ft. Engine : single cylinder beam engine by Allaire Works, New York. Sold to the Shanghai Steam Navigation Co but entered the pearl River Trade on behalf of Russell & Co. With the HC&M from 1866.  Lost in a typhoon in 1875 with the loss of 100 lives

White Cloud (Pak Wan Yun)
Built by Westpoint Slipway, Hong Kong in 1875 incorporating the beam engine ex-White Cloud (I). Sold for use in Manila, Philippines in 1899 but lost on the delivery voyage

Built by A&J Inglis at Glasgow in 1882
270 ft : 2363 GRT
Two cylinder compound walking beam engine :  40 and 72in x 120 in
Scrapped in 1926

Notes created with the help of source authors :

China Navigation Company (and antecedents)

Trading house Jardine, Matheson & Co were quick to enter the Yangtse river trading business in association with their existing coastal operations, but stepped back in 1873 after operations were bought out by John Swire who was intent on developing trade on the Yangtse and Pearl rivers.
Swire's Union Steam Navigation Company was reconstituted into the China Navigation Company, mostly financed by the London and Hong Kong-based Swire, in 1873. The new company embarked on a massive expansion programme.
Jardine, Matheson re-entred the Yangtse trade in 1879 under the guise of the Yangtse Steam Navigation Company but with screw steamships



Built in 1864 by Wm Denny & Bros of Dumbarton
297.3 ft : 1903 GT
2 cylinder diagonal engine by Denny & Co
Lost in 1875 when wrecked at Namoe Island on a costal voyage in a tragedy which claimed 210 lives

Tun Sin 
Built in 1863 by Samuda Bros.of Poplar, London
241.3 ft : 773 GT
2 cyl oscillating engine : 46 and 46 in x 50 in by John Penn of Greenwich
Built for the Shanghai- Ningpo - Hankow service of London-based George Barnet & Co
Hulked at Shantou (Swatow) in 1885

Three sister ships built by A&J Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow in 1873 and 1874 for the China Navigation Company were Pekin, Shanghai and Hankow.
At 3076 Gross tons they were the largest inland and inshore paddlers built by a British yard, although not the longest at
290.9 feet in length.
Their design drew on US paddle steamers, a number of which had already been delivered to Hong Kong owners and featured beam engines but unusually with twin cylinders 68 and 68 in (Pekin), 72 and 72 in (Hankow)  x 144 in

- Pekin (1874-1912) Later used as an accommodation ship at Wuhu. Captured by Japanese forces in 1942 and lost after a tow to Shanghai

- Shanghai (1874-1890) Lost on 25th December 1890 when she burned out  en route from Shanghai to Hankow with the loss of over 200 lives. The hull was hulked, surviving until 1935

- Hankow (1874-1892) In 1882 she moved from the Yangtse to Hong Kong to run to Macao and Canton. She was lost on 14th October 1906 to a fire at the quayside in Hong Kong with 130 lives lost. The hull was hulked and towed to Shanghai and used later at Hankow, Shasi, and from 1939, Ichang. Sunk during World War II

Inglis also supplied :

-  Ichang (1874-1891) 242.6 ft : 1782 GRT  and also with a twin cylinder walking beam engine (62 and 62 in x 132 in). Initially placed on Yangtse but unsuccessful and moved quickly to the Pearl River. Returned to Shanghai service in 1881. The ship was wrecked near Ningpo in 1891 with 43 deaths.

- Moning : The China Navigation Company took over an older Inglis-built paddle steamer in 1894. It was Kiang Teen, of the China Merchants Steam Navigation Co, originally the Hupeh of the Shanghai Steam Navigation Company until her sale in 1877. She was 277 ft long and with a gross tonnage of 2746. She was renamed Moning, the name she was launched with and held only very briefly before returning to China Merchants as Kiang Teen

China Merchants' Steam Navigation Co. (of Shanghai)

Founded in 1872, unusually for the time with majority Chinese ownership

Built as Nanzing in Scotland. Purchased in 1875. Converted to screw propulsion in 1880

Kiang Kwan
Built in 1876 by A&J Inglis at Glasgow
230.1 ft : 1637 GT :
Compound engine. Lengthened and reclassified as 2200 GT. Sank after a collision in 1918

Kiang Yung
Built in 1876 by A&J Inglis at Glasgow
250.1 ft : 2118 GT :
Destroyed after an ammunition explosion in 1926

Vessels taken over from the Shanghai Steam Navigation Co in 1877

Kiang Chang (ex- Szechuen) Wrecked in February 1878
Kiang Foo (ex- Nanking) Scrapped in 1925
Kiang Teen (ex- Hupeh) Reengined by SC Farnham & Co at Shanghai in 1890. Sold to the China Navigation Company in 1894 and renamed Moning but reverted to China merchants as Kiang Teen in 1895. Sold in 1938. Scuttled in 1941
Haesan (ex- Kiangse). Hulked
Hwei Yuen (ex- Fusiyama)  Scrapped
Kiang Ching (ex- Hirado). Hulked
Kiang Piau (ex- Fychow). Laid up in 1888 and briken up shortly afterwards
Kiang Tung (ex- Honan). Converted to screw propulsion. Burnt out near Wuchow during a voyage from Shasi to Hankow
Kiamg Wei (ex- Fire Queen). Scrapped in 1878
Kiang Yuen (ex- Plymouth Rock). Scrapped in 1878  
Hae An (ex- Shinking).  Converted to screw propulsion in 1892. Scuttled as a blockship in Shanghai in 1937

Second-hand purchase

Kiang Ping
Built by Thomas Wingate & Co at Glasgow in 1864
177.2 ft : 368 GT. 2 cyliner diagonal 36 and 36 in x 42 in by builders
Originally intended for a Brazilian buyer, but bought by Japanese interests
Purchased by China merchants in 1878 from HB Endicott at Hong Kong where she had been named Ngan King
Used both on the Yangtse and Pearl Rivers until converted for use as a landing pontoon in 1893

New build : the last large paddler built for Yangtse service and featuring a compound diagonal engine

Kiang Yu
Built in by A&J Inglis at Glasgow in 1883
300 ft : 3098 GT.  Compound diagonal engine by the builders
Sunk as a blockship in 1938

Shanghai Steam Navigation Company
Formed in 1862 by Russell & Co,
the company was bought out by the China Merchants company in 1877

Built by Lawrence & Foulkes in Brooklyn, New York in 1862. 
204 ft.
Beam engine built by Essler & Co.
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Haesan

Fire Queen
Built by J Englis & Son at New York in 1864
317.4 ft : Beam engine by Allaire Works, New York
Purchased by Shanghai Steam Navigation Co in 1865
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Wei

Plymouth Rock
Built by Westerveld & Son at New York in 1864
284 ft :  beam engine by Allaire Works, New York ex- Plymouth Rock, 1854, a steamer on Lake Erie)
Sailed to Hong Kong and entered service under US flag for Russell & Co on the Pearl River
Purchased by Shanghai Steam Navigation Co in 1866
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Yuen

Purchased by Shanghai Steam Navigation Co in 1866
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Yuen

Built by Collyer & Lambert at Shanghai
270 ft. Beam engine built by the Neptune Iron Works, New York
Built for Dent & Co but purchased by Shanghai Steam Navigation Co in 1866. From 1868 to 1877 she sailed for the US Consulate General in Shanghai
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Hwei Yuen

Built by Collyer & Lambert at Shanghai
265 ft. Beam engine built by the Neptune Iron Works, New York
Built for Dent & Co but purchased by Shanghai Steam Navigation Co in 1866.
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Ching

Built in 1867 by Jeremiah Simonson & Co at New York
253 ft. Beam engine by Fletcher, Harrison & Co of Hoboken NJ
Originally named Nautilus then Koyonoga, sailing in Japan
Purchased by Shanghai Steam navigation Co in 1872
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Piau

Built in 1870 by A&J Inglis at Glasgow as Moning but renamed on arrival
273.2 ft : Beam engine
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Teen

Built in 1871 by Shanghai Steam Navigation Co
218 ft.  Engine ex- Tah Wah
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Tung

Built in 1873 by TF Rowland at New York and assembled at Hongkew.
295.5 ft. Beam Engine by Morgan Iron Works New York ex- Chekiang. 
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Foo

Built in 1874 by A&J Inglis at Glasgow
219.2 ft : 1249 GT. 
Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Hae An

1874 Wrecked shortly after departure from builders John Elder & Co of Govan, Scotland on return for attention to her hull plating

Built by John Elder & Co at Govan in 1875
300 ft : 1471 GT.  Engine ex- Kiang Loon (built in New York). Taken over in 1877 by China Merchants as Kiang Chang

Yangtse Trading Company

Pioneer (1900) was built by Blackwood & Gordon, shipbuilders at Port Glasgow and supplied in kit form for local reassembly in 1900. Smaller than the big Inglis steamers (180 ft) and of shallow draught to negotiate the river, it was fitted with more traditional European-style compound diagonal engines of 18.5 and 32 in x 60 in and was destined for work in the upper reaches of the Yangtse at Chongquing. Almost before she could enter service she was requisitioned and bought by the British Admiralty and converted to a river gunboat, renamed Kinsha in anticipation of action against the so-called Boxer rebels who were in uprising against foreign presence in China agreed only under duress. Records suggest that she survied until 1937 named Shukong.

Notes created with the help of research by authors  Howard Dick and Stephen Kentwell published on  , the Scottish Built Ships database and wikipedia

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