Houlder Brothers & Co. was formed in London 1856 and operated in the market for chartered tonnage. In 1861 the company acquired the Golden Horn, which they used on the North Atlantic routes to the United States. The company later expanded to service routes to New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. From 1875 to 1880 the company worked with John T. Arundel & Co. in a guano mining business on Flint Island in the Pacific Ocean. In 1881 the company entered the passenger and cargo trade to the River Plate.
The Furness-Houlder Argentine Line was a joint venture between Houlder Brothers Ltd and the Furness Withy shipping company, established in 1914.
In 1987 Houlder Line ceased operations. The company continues as the independent engineering consultancy Houlder Ltd.
Many Houlder ships were recognisable by having names ending in Grange. The group re-used some of these names three or more times on successive ships: Beacon Grange, Elstree Grange, Langton Grange, Oswestry Grange, Ovingdean Grange and Royston Grange.. The first word in the ships name was usually an English village having an initial making up part of the company name: e.g. Hornby Grange, Oswestry Grange, Upwey Grange, Langton Grange, Dunster Grange, Elstree Grange. Until the 1972 disaster Royston was traditionally used to supply the 'R' but after this Ripon was used.
Ships Operated by Houlder Line
- Canonesa was operated by the Houlder Line and was torpedoed in the North Atlantic in 1940.
- El Argentino was operated by the Houlder Line. She was bombed and sunk west of Lisbon in 1943 with the loss of four crew.
- STV Royston Grange was destroyed by fire after a collision in the Rio de la Plata on 11 May 1972. She was the first British ship to be lost with all hands since 1951.
- Oswestry Grange (1964) was the last of four ships of this name and the last ship of the Houlder line. She was a collier and was sold in 1985.
- STV Hardwick Grange ran on the same route as STV Royston Grange.
- "Houlder Line / Alexander SS Co". The Ships List. Archived from the original on 25 June 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2012.