Vintage Travel poster enhanced and restored by Scenesfromthepast.net
The Batavier Line (Dutch: Batavier Lijn) was a packet service between Rotterdam and London from 1830 until the 1960s. The line was established by Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maats (NSM) after Rotterdam–Hamburg and Antwerp–London services didn't pan out. The original boat on the service was the wooden paddle steamer De Batavier. She was replaced by an iron-hulled paddle steamer named Batavier in 1855, and this ship was replaced by another iron-hulled steamer Batavier in 1872. In 1895, NSM sold the company to William Müller and Company who maintained the company name and the naming scheme for its ships.
Müller ordered two new steel-hulled steamers from Gourlay Brothers of Dundee in 1897, Batavier II and Batavier III. When this pair joined the fleet, the prior Batavia was renamed Batavier I. In Rotterdam, the ships docked at the Willemsplein; in London, the ships originally docked near London Bridge, but in 1899 switched to the Customs House and Wool Quays near the Tower Bridge. Also beginning in 1899, the Batavier Line service between Rotterdam and London was offered daily except Sundays. In 1902 a further pair of ship was ordered from Gourlay, Batavier IV and Batavier V, and when Batavier VI was added in 1903, Batavier I was taken out of service. In 1909 Batavier II and Batavier III were rebuilt to a size more closely aligned with the later ships.
During the early stages of World War I, the line continued service, but the ships were sometime subjected to being stopped by German submarines. In March 1915, Batavier V was stopped and seized as a prize by German submarine U-28, but later released by the German prize court. In May 1916, Batavier V struck a mine off the British coast and was sunk with the loss of four lives. In September, Batavier II was seized by UB-6, but later released; she was sunk in 1917 by the British submarine E55.
After the war ended, new Batavier II and Batavier V were added to the line, but during World War II, the newer Batavier V was seized by German forces and later sunk by a British motor torpedo boat. A newer Batavier III, added in 1939 to replace the 1902 ship of the same name, was also seized by the Germans and later mined. After the end of the war, only the 1921 Batavier II remained in service for the line and continued passenger service until 1960. Several freighters were added in the late 1950s and a freight service was continued for a time after passenger service ended.