The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company - known today as P&O - grew from a partnership between an Englishman, Brodie McGhie Willcox and a Shetlander, Arthur Anderson. In 1837 their Peninsular Steam shipping service between England and the Iberian Peninsula, set up with the help of an Irishman, Richard Bourne, won the first ever deep-sea mail contract.In 1840, the company was incorporated by Royal Charter, added Oriental to its name and began a service to Egypt. Using the overland route which existed before the Suez Canal, services to India, the Far East and Australia were established during the next 12 years. For a century P&O mail and passenger steamers were the backbone of British trade and expansion East of Suez, served the forces of the Crown in wartime and reputedly gave the word 'posh' to the English language - from port side outward (to India), starboard homeward, indicating the better, cooler cabins during the passage of the Red Sea. In the first half of the Twentieth Century a series of acquisitions of other shipping companies extended P&O's interests into most parts of the globe and made it one of the largest shipping combines in the world. After the Second World War the company diversified its fleet and developed shipping-related businesses including agencies, port operations and road
transport. In the 1970s and '80's P&O extended its interests into construction, housebuilding, property investment and development and a variety of service industries, but remained pre-eminent in British shipping. P&O ships still fly the quartered houseflag that dates back to its foundations, incorporating the royal colours of Portugal and Spain.