Transport Office

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Transport Office
Flag of the Transport Board and Transport Branch Royal Navy (1794-1832).png
Flag of the Transport Board and later Transport Branch in 1832 used for illustrative purposes
Office overview
Superseding department
JurisdictionKingdom of England Kingdom of England Kingdom of Great Britain Kingdom of Great Britain United Kingdom United Kingdom
Parent OfficeNavy Office

The Transport Office was the British Admiralty department responsible for the transport of supplies and military. The office was the headquarters of the Transport Board the commission in charge of naval transportation, it was located at the Navy Office.


It originated in the need to transport the British Army to Ireland in 1689 to meet the Jacobite invasion of Ireland. The responsibility for the transportation was given to a board, later named the Commission for Transportation. In time the commission assumed responsibility for transportation to all areas, not just Ireland. It was then established on a more premenant basis between 1690 and 1724. After 1724 the commission was disbanded and other Admiralty boards and several departments of the War Office assumed its functions. This arrangement did not work well and the office was abolished.[1]

In 1794 the office was reestablished Transport Board in 1794, which was one of three offices — Navy Office, Victualling Office, and Transportation — that then ran the Royal Navy until 1817. The Transportation Office centralized and unified the function of military transportation overseas. The Army, therefore, had to arrange all movement by sea through the Transport Board. In 1799 the office assumed responsibility for the care of prisoners of war on 22 December 1799 from the Sick and Hurt Office,[2] and in 1806 the Transport Board had taken over the business of the Sick and Hurt Board.

In 1817, the Transport Office was abolished and its duties being divided between the Navy Office, which set up its own Transport Branch, and the Victualling Office, which took over the medical commissioner as well as setting up its own Transport Service. When the Navy and Victualling Boards were abolished in 1832 transport duties were assigned to the Department of the Comptroller of Victualling and Transport Services. Then in 1861 a select Committee of the House of Commons that contained both Navy and Army officers, recommended unanimously the formation of a separate and distinct Transport Office under the sole control of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty "To carry out transport of every kind required by our government to any part of our coast and to all our colonies and possessions, including India". In 1862 the responsibility for the provision of transportation was divided and a separate Director of Transports appointed who headed a new Transport Department.

Transport Service

The Transport Service role, was responsible for “the hiring and appropriating of Ships and Vessels for the conveyance of Troops and Baggage, Victualling, Ordnance, Barrack, Commissariat, Naval and Military Stores of all kinds. It employed transport agents who represented the first quasi-professional specialization among commissioned officers.[3] The transport agents were uniformed Navy officers under the employ of the Transport Office.


Note: Below is a timeline of responsibility for transportation for the Royal Navy.

  • Navy Board, Victualling Office (Board of Victualling Commissioners), 1683-1793
  • Navy Board, Transport Office, 1794-1816
  • Navy Board, Transport Branch, 1817-1832
  • Board of Admiralty, Department of the Comptroller of Victualling and Transport Services, 1832-1861
  • Board of Admiralty, Transport Department, 1862-1917


  1. Philip J. Haythornthwaite (2001). Nelson's Navy. p. 14. ISBN 1855323346.
  2. Abell, Francis (1914). Prisoners of war in Britain, 1756 to 1815; a record of their lives, their romance and their sufferings. p. 4.
  3. N. A. M. Rodger. (2005) The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815. (W. W. Norton), p. 384.