The Natal Line (Bullard, King & Co. Ltd., managers) with services to South African ports was established around 1850 with sailing ships. Ten years later the White Cross Line of sailing ships was established. The first steamer in the fleet was Pongola of 1,449 grt built in 1879 for the Natal Direct Line to carry passengers direct to Durban and later East African ports. In 1889, sailings to Durban from India began to carry labourers to work the sugar plantations. In 1911, immigration from India was stopped and eight years later Bullard, King & Co. Ltd. were taken over by Union-Castle Line but kept their independent identity and colours. The Natal Line was never well documented even though it formed an important part of Union-Castle Line from 1919 and British & Commonwealth Group fleet from 1955.
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