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Vessel Archive 1921-1950

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PS Princess Elizabethpaddle steamer
Registered No:149297
Builders:Day, Summers & Co. Ltd Northam
Entered service:1927
Tonnage:388 tonnes gross
Dimensions:195'0" x 24'2"
Machinery:paddle compound diagonal

Sister ship of the ill fated Princess Mary. She was a Passage Steamer for the Bournemouth leg of the service until 1936 when the Gracie Fields replaced her. She, like her sister was recruited for the war effort as a minesweeper, in the Second World War. After the war she returned to her original role, the only difference was that she was based in Yarmouth and then Southsea. Her career at sea ended in 1959 whe she was sold, eventually being converted into a restaurant.

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MV Medina (III)motor vessel
Registered No:161721
Builders:J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Max Speed:11-13 knots
Tonnage:347 tonnes gross
Dimensions:143'0" x 28'1"
Machinery:2 x diesel, twin propeller

The Medina broke with tradition, she was the first diesel driven vessel to operate on any of the Solent crossings. This was her main role even through WWII. There was space for cars and as the passenger accommodation was of a higher standard than the old paddlers she proved popular. She was unsuitable for calls at piers, owing to her widely flared bows, although pontoons were no problem. Maximum speed was 11 knots, increasing to 13 knots when re-engined in 1953. She was sold by Red Funnel in 1962 and sailed out of Gibraltar until 1971, thereafter returning to home waters and eventual convertion into a restaurant.

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Sea Coach Island Enterprisemotor launch
Registered No:167277
Builders:British Power Co. Ltd, Hythe
Max Speed:20 knots
Tonnage:9 tonnes gross
Dimensions:36'1" x 8'2"
Machinery:2 x 6cyl, 100hp, 200bhp

She was the first attempt to establish a high-speed service between Southampton and Cowes. In 1936 the craft was described as a "fast (35 minute crossing), eleven passenger, powerful twin-engined motor cruiser, affording speed, comfort and safety to passengers in all weathers. The luxurious cabin was fitted with eleven coach type seats, and had toilet facilities and hand baggage accommodation." Whilst there was no winter service the Island Enterprise provided a particularly safe service in fog.

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PS Gracie Fieldspaddle steamer
Registered No:166825
Builders:J. Thornycroft & Co. Ltd, Woolston
Entered service:1936
Tonnage:396 tonnes gross
Dimensions:195'11" x 24'11"
Machinery:paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn:1940 (lost at sea)

Launched on 8 April 1936 by her namesake, who sung "Sing As We Go" at her launch. She was unusual in that she was named after a celebrity, rather than the tradition of royalty and nobility. Similar to Princess Elizabeth, she was an improved version, with a raised forecastle, designed to keep the spray off the cars she carried in her well deck. Originally she had an open bridge, but a wheelhouse was added in 1937. Performing a variety of duties including, excursions, tendering and packet services she was a popular ship. On 26 July 1936 she was chartered by her namesake to take orphans on a trip from Bournemouth to Brighton, where Miss Fields was performing. She was requisitioned for minesweeping duties in 1939 and went to Dunkirk for the evacuation. After one successful trip she was hit by a bomb and was badly damaged. Her crew were taken off by HMS Pangbourne, which tried to tow her home. However, her rudder was stuck and she was taking on water and sank on 30 May.

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MV Vecta (I)motor vessel
Registered No:166825
Builders:J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Max Speed:unknown
Tonnage:630 tonnes gross
Dimensions:191'6" x 30'2"
Machinery:English Electric Co diesels, twin Voith-Schneider propellers
Withdrawn:1965 (scrapped 1996)

The new design of the engines and propellers on this vessel gave it greater versatility and much greater manoeuvrability. Due to these qualities Vecta could be used on various duties, she tendered to some of the worlds famous liners, carried cars between Southampton & Cowes and was used for excursions. She set-off for Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in 1939 but turned back with mechanical problems. Due to the War, obtaining spares from Germany was difficult and she was later fitted with conventional propellers. She was sold to Townsend Car Ferries Ltd for use in the Bristol Channel and renamed Westward Ho before being converted for shoreside use.

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TSS Uptonsteam vessel
Registered No:147343
Builders:Cammell Laird & Co. Ltd, Birkenhead
Built:1925 (acquired 1946)
Max Speed:10 knots
Tonnage:462 tonnes gross
Dimensions:145'1" x 32'0"
Machinery:steam triple expansion, twin screw
Withdrawn:1950 (scrapped 1953)

An ex Birkenhead ferry, she was purchased to help replace losses during WWII and was deployed on the Southampton-Ryde service in May 1946. Upton was a slow steamer and struggled with her schedules. She only carried passengers (no room for cars) and was tried on the Poole- Bournemouth and Swanage service. Her bulky shape and wide hull belting did not endear her to the local piermasters and after just one month she returned to Southampton. For a while she continued the Ryde service but the polio outbreak on the Isle of Wight in 1950 saw a vast drop in passengers and she was laid up at Northam. An attempt was made to try her as a tug tender in 1951 but she proved unsatisfactory and was again laid up before being scrapped in 1953.

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MV Norris Castle (II)motor vessel
Registered No:182326
Builders:A. Findlay, Old Kilpatrick
Built:1942 (acquired 1947)
Max Speed:unknown
Tonnage:473 tonnes gross
Dimensions:180'0" x 38'1"
Machinery:12 cyl oil engines, twin screw

This vessel was originally designed as a landing craft for the D-day mission. As she could load from both the front and side, Norris was used on the East Cowes service. Her crossing time was longer at 1½ hours but she had a greater capacity than most of the vessels at that time. She also performed jobs tending other vessels, along with cargo runs. In 1962 she was sold to a service in the Greek Islands.

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TSS Robinasteam vessel
Registered No:135726
Builders:Ardrossan Dry Dock Co. Ltd
Built:1914 (acquired 1948)
Max Speed:unknown
Tonnage:306 tonnes gross
Dimensions:159'6" x 26'1"
Machinery:twin screw, triple expansion
Withdrawn:1949 (scrapped 1952)

The Robina led a nomadic life, in her career she was owned by several companies, and to her credit managed to maintain her name through all these changes. Her career with Red Funnel was short lived due to consistent boiler troubles, she was eventually scrapped in 1952.

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PS Lorna Doone (II)paddle steamer
Registered No:148380
Builders:Ailsa Shipbuilding Co. Troon
Tonnage:798 tonnes gross
Dimensions:235'2" x 29'1"
Machinery:paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn:1952 (scrapped 1952)

Originally purchased to perform a cross channel service for Red Funnel, this former minesweeper and control ship was later used on Bournemouth excursions during the summer season. It was decided in 1952, when the vessel was being refitted, that she would be scrapped.

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PS Solent Queen (II)paddle steamer
Registered No:160696
Builders:W. Hamilton & Co. Ltd, Port Glasgow
Tonnage:792 tonnes gross
Dimensions:234'9" x 29'1"
Machinery:paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn:1951 (scrapped 1951)

The Solent Queen was the sister ship of the Lorna Doone and their careers mirrored one another. She performed the Southsea and Shanklin crossings. In 1951 when in for a refit the engine room caught fire and the Solent Queen was completely gutted.

Balmoral Diamond Jubilee
MV Balmoralmotor vessel
Registered No:183576
Builders:J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built:1949 (launched 27 June 1949)
Max Speed:16.25 knots
Tonnage:688 tonnes gross
Dimensions:203'6" x 32'0"
Machinery:2 x 6 cyl oil, twin screw
Withdrawn:1969 (sold to P&A Campbell)

With capacity for 10 cars, Balmoral's main role was the Southampton-Cowes service but at times she performed tending and excursion duties. Adjustments to the vessel were made as her role became more orientated around the excursions until they finally ended in 1968. After this the Balmoral was sold and has had a number owners since. She is now owned by Waverley Steam Navigation Limited and operates excursions throughout the summer. On 27 June 2009 the ship celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. More about Balmoral

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Southampton <> West Cowes, Isle of Wight

Service is operating normally


Southampton <> East Cowes, Isle of Wight

Service is operating normally

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