South Africa Postal Services 2007 Issue
Design by Peter Bilas

Ships of the Union Castle Line

South Africa Postal Service will issue 5 new stamps with a postage value of International Postcard Rate named "Ships of the Union Castle Line" on the 5th of December 2007. These stamps depict 5 different ships of the Union-Castle Line that were painted by Peter Bilas. The Union-Castle Line ran on a clockwork timetable between Southampton and South Africa. It began as two separate companies: Union Line and Castle Line. The two joined together in March 1900. Each of the ships is described in the table below:

  • Dane (Top Left) - is depicted after departure from the Isle of Wight in the background. It was the first Union Line to become a mailship. Later it was moved from mail service to Mauritian service. While in route to East Africa, it was wrecked on Thunderbolt Reef.
  • Keldonan Castle (Top Right) - built for the Castle Line company in 1899 for mail service. Renamed H.M. Transport 44 for use during the Anglo-Boer/South African War. On the ships maiden voyage she carried 3000 troops to Cape Town and later was used as a prisoner of war ship. It was refurbished and returned to the mail service in 1920 where the ship remained until replaced. In May 1931 she was sold for scrap and broken up in Norway.
  • SA Vaal (Middle left) - launch in 1961 and served on a route between South Africa and Southampton. The ship was used by Union-Castle Line until 1966 when it was transferred to the South African Marine Corp (UK). It was then sold in 1977 to Carnival Cruise Line.
  • Edinburgh Castle (Middle Right) - on august 14, 1914 the ship sailed from Cape Town with mail and government-only passengers to Gilbraltar. The ship was then taken over by the South Atlantic patrol in 1915. In 1919 the ship was refitted and resumed commercial operation. The ship was withdrawn from service in 1938. It was laid up at Netley until she was bought by the Admiralty for use as an accommodation ship in Freetown, Sierra Leone for Naval personnel and survivors of sunken ships. In 1945 it was tow to sea and sunk by gunfire and depth charges.
  • Windsor Castle (Bottom) - was launch on June 23rd, 1959 by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. At that time the ship was the largest liner in England and was owned by Union Castle Line. The ships maiden voyage was from Southampton on 18 August 1960, arriving in Durban 11.5 days later. The ship became the flagship of the Union Castle fleet traveling more then 700,000 miles and carrying more then 35,000 passengers. But in 1970 the jumbo jet airline industry, made Union Castle a money-losing passenger service. In August 1977 the ship sail its last sailing from Southampton.

"Ships in the Union Castle Line" stamps can be purchased as a set of 5, Sheets of 10, Control strip of 5, or Commemorative FDC Envelope. The size of each stamp is 37.5mm x 28.74mm and a sheet size of 95mm x 165mm. They will be printed by Southern Colour Print Limited, New Zealand using the offset Lithography printing process with 104g Tullis Russell paper and PVA Gum. A total of 100,000 will be printed

Ships of the Union Castle Line FDC

Ships of the Union Castle Line FDC Stamp

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