The Steamship Benledi III oil on board 41.8 x 57.5cm (16 7/16 x 22 5/8in). oval
The Scottish based Ben Line, a famous name in the China Trade, traces its history back to the middle of the Nineteenth Century when their sailing ships were heavily involved in trade with the Far East.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 caused many sailing ship operators to abandon sail for steam. Benledi I was built in 1871 and was the first steamship built for the Ben Line. As each Benledi was sold, Ben Line tradition dictated that the name was used again. The last Benledi was the eighth of that name and she only stopped trading in 1978. Benledi III was built for the Ben Line in 1904 by Bertram and Sons of Sunderland, with triple expansion engines supplied by J. Dickinson and Sons also of Sunderland. She measured 379 x 46 x 18 feet and had a gross weight of 3931 tons. She was sold in 1930.
It is interesting that all of the Ben Line vessels were named after Scottish mountains ('Ben' being the Gaelic word for mountain). It has been suggested that, being careful Scots, the owners always amalgamated the two words because it was cheaper at the time when telegrams were charged per word. Hence, Benledi instead of Ben Ledi!