Paddle Steamer Picture Gallery


TSS Twickenham Ferry

Builders: Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd Newcastle 1934

Propulsion type: Single reduction geared turbines

Owner: Southern Railway, (joint ownership with Angleterre-Lorraine-Alsace Societe Anonyme de Navigation)

Service dates: 1934-1974

Tonnage: Gross 2839


In 1934/5 three ships were constructed in Newcastle for the Southern Railway, which wanted to run through trains from London Victoria to the Continent at Dunquerke, the only place on the Continent which had a rail terminal which could accommodate the service. Twickenham Ferry and her sisters, the Hampton Ferry and Shepperton Ferry, were designed to carry rolling stock over the English Channel and each had four tracks in their hulls. These could carry 12 Wagon-Lits (sleeping cars) or 40 goods wagons, as well as separate passengers quarters for those who required them. There was also space for up to 25 cars in the lower car deck and after some instability on trials, an extra 200 tons of ballast had to be added to each boat, although they still retained a tendancy to roll in a heavy sea, resulting in frequent cancellation.

At Dover, a special Train Ferry Dock was added but it took time and a lot of engineering work before this was operational, due to the challenges of loading trains on to the boats, in an area of tide variation of around 25 feet. The ships had their two funnels placed side by side, rather than in line, due to the space required for the trains and whilst only travelling at 16 knots in service, the vessels were popular, with passengers being carried overnight and goods during the day. Twickenham Ferry in 1936 was given a French flag and was jointly owned by ALA, although she retained her original colouring. During the Second World War the boats were used for transport purposes and at the end of the war Twickenham Ferry was the first Southern Railway boat to enter Cherbourg. In 1947 the sisters were converted from coal burning to oil. In 1974 Twickenham Ferry was withdrawn after her boilers were found to be worn out and she was disposed of for scrap.

I am grateful to Frederic Logghe, Founder & Webmaster Maritime Digital Archive for supplying this picture.

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