The General Post Office’s Zanzibar Shipping Contracts, 1860-1914

By Charles R. Parry, published February 1982


In the Victorian and Edwardian periods Post Office mail contracts were heavily subsidised and provided an important source of income to shipping companies. Furthermore, they were part of complex relationships between government and private industry. The decision making process in awarding contracts was affected by diplomatic, strategic and imperial pressures, interference from other government departments and commercial interests. Initially in the case of mail to Zanzibar, a centre for anti- slave trade operations, philanthropic considerations outweighed financial reasoning. As the use of telegraphy increased, justification for subsidies shifted to providing for political and commercial dominance in the area.

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Filed under: Indian Ocean
Subjects include: Administration | Strategy & Diplomacy

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