This chapter discusses Macgregor Laird’s involvement in the formation of the African Steam Ship Company and his role as its first managing director. It also discusses Laird’s personal and professional life as an early pioneer of West African Trade and shareholder in the African Inland Commercial Company. The chapter largely focuses on the usefulness of the River Niger as a ‘highway’ into Central Africa and accounts Laird’s own expedition up the river from October 1832 to August 1833, taken in order to prove that it was navigable for steam vessels. The chapter concludes with an account of the progress of the African Steam Ship Company in the period 1863 to 1868 and outlines the company’s failure to expand as a contributing factor to the intervention of the competing line of The British and African Steam Navigation Company.
Keywords: West Africa, British West Africa, West African Trade, West African Shipping Trade, African Steam Ship Company, Liverpool Shipping, British and African Steam Navigation Company, River Niger, Macgregor Laird, John Laird
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