The Ocean Steamship Company, otherwise known as the Blue Funnel Line, was established in 1865 by the Liverpool firm Alfred Holt & Company to participate in the lucrative China trade. The Holts were initially cotton traders who eventually got involved in shipping through Alfred Holt. He was also responsible for developing a compound engine that enabled steamers to cover long distances at an economical cost. By the late 19th century, the Blue Funnel Line had made inroads into Southeast Asian waters, in particular the transshipment cargo trade in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) where it provided feeder services to shipping firms that operated mainly ocean-going fleets. The company reached its peak in the short post-war boom following the end of the First World War, but had to subsequently contend with the decline in maritime trade following the Great Depression and the loss of over half its fleet during the Second World War. Rebuilding itself after the war, the company ventured into the aviation business when it became one of the founders of Malayan Airways in 1937. Following a series of takeovers and mergers in the last decades of the 20th century, the company ceased to exist as an independent entity.