Posts tagged: boulogne

Brochure Browsing – P&O Normandy Ferries, 1977

In 1976 Normandy Ferries expanded from their original operations in the western Channel based at Southampton and opened a new service between Dover and Boulogne – the latter approximately 90km from Normandy itself. The operator, established in 1967, had been a joint venture between the British P&O and French SAGA, SAGA having been a storied cross-channel operator in their own right in the inter-war period.

The Boulogne service used the Lion, late of P&O’s Ardrossan-Larne service (formerly Burns & Laird) and was something of a gamble. P&O’s presence at Dover was not welcomed by the establishment operators, and memoranda from meetings of the cartel that fixed rates and operations around this time express the view that Normandy Ferries were a “black leg” (sic) who would not be invited to “join the club” (P&O subsequently attended various meetings but were always resented by Sealink and Townsend Thoresen for adding further capacity to a market which already had too much and for driving down fares so that everyone struggled to make money).

This brochure shows the Normandy Ferries operation just after the commencement of the Boulogne service and before the second vessel, the nf Tiger, was brought into operation in 1978.

Whilst the Dragon and Leopard were superior, elegant overnight car ferries with comfortable interiors and harmonious lines, the Lion was a robust little ship with only a few concessions to real luxury.

Whilst the Dragon and Leopard were superior, elegant overnight car ferries with comfortable interiors and harmonious lines, the Lion was a robust little ship with only a few concessions to real luxury.

"We don't put our car ferries on any old route." In reality Normandy Ferries had spotted a gap in the market as BR/Sealink had focussed on the shorter Dover-Calais operation rather than Dover-Boulogne which, just a decade earlier, had been the centre of their short-sea car ferry services.

“We don’t put our car ferries on any old route.” In reality Normandy Ferries had spotted a gap in the market as BR/Sealink had focussed on the shorter Dover-Calais operation rather than Dover-Boulogne which, just a decade earlier, had been the centre of their short-sea car ferry services.

"Lion obligingly provides a comfortable sun deck!" Complete with deckchairs, perhaps the last to be seen on a short-sea ferry.

“Lion obligingly provides a comfortable sun deck!” Complete with deckchairs, perhaps the last to be seen on a short-sea ferry.

Our passengers have espied something interesting from the Lion's upper forward lounge.

Our passengers have espied something interesting from the Lion’s upper forward lounge.

"Lion gives you individual shops plus a shipboard supermarket - to give you one of the best shopping centres afloat". These facilities had certainly been beefed up compared to her Irish Sea days when a dual information desk/shop was supplemented in the summer by the conversion of a cabin into an additional retail outlet.

“Lion gives you individual shops plus a shipboard supermarket – to give you one of the best shopping centres afloat”. These facilities had certainly been beefed up compared to her Irish Sea days when a dual information desk/shop was supplemented in the summer by the conversion of a cabin into an additional retail outlet.

Enjoying a full English in the Lion's cafeteria.

Enjoying a full English in the Lion’s cafeteria.

Things look slightly more formal in this view of the restaurant on either Leopard or Dragon.

Things look slightly more formal in this view of the restaurant on either Leopard or Dragon.

The neatly-detailed main lobby on the Southampton pair, with its central lift shaft, oval mezzanine and sweeping open-tread staircase remains one of the most attractive spaces on any cross-channel ferry.

The neatly-detailed main lobby on the Southampton pair, with its central lift shaft, oval mezzanine and sweeping open-tread staircase remains one of the most attractive spaces on any cross-channel ferry.

The Dover-Boulogne service expanded to three ships in 1980 and, after SAGA’s exit, operated under the P&O Ferries name. Both routes were acquired by Townsend Thoresen in late 1984 and the five ships fairly quickly withdrawn from Channel service.

Things seen – October 2011

  • The Villandry is captured on Youtube in the 1960s in these timeless home movie reels – she is seen at Newhaven here and here and at Dieppe here. The ship also makes an appearance in this video which captures some excellent scenes of Britons at leisure in the 1960s but the star of the show is undoubtedly the Falaise, arriving at Newhaven stern-first.
  • Later in her life, the former Villandry is studied in this video at Kefalonia in 1990 and here arriving at Delos.
  • The Villandry and Valencay, as built, joined the Dieppe-Newhaven car ferry pioneer, the Falaise, and that ship’s first season is captured at the start of this Pathe newsreel, which continues past the ferry operation with a consideration of Dieppe and the surrounding area.
  • The former Heysham steamer Duke of Lancaster remains something of an enigma but the dukeoflancaster.net website now has dozens of past and present pictures which help to answer a few of the questions as to what she is like aboard.
  • The Arran steamer the Marchioness of Graham had a notable career, staying close to home through the Second World War and surviving locally until the late 1950s. Later rebuilt in Greek service, this video documents her launch back in 1936.
  • The Munster of 1968.

    The Munster of 1968.

  • Alongside modern coverage of Stena’s Irish Sea ships, this remarkable retrospective featured on RTE’s Nationwide programme includes footage of and on board B+I Line’s 1960’s Munster. “Form filling and tiresome customs delays have largely disappeared. A visitor only needs a current driving licence, an international motor insurance card and a pass covering the temporary exportation and re-importation of his car…”
  • A couple of years ago the former Hovertravel AP1-88 Double-O-Seven found herself in trouble in her new home of Sierra Leone. On a related theme, James’ Hovercraft website has had an overhaul and is worth a look.
  • The hoverport at Boulogne is captured in its heyday in this video from 1982.
  • Trouble for the Tor Anglia in 1976.
  • The famous Danish motorship Jens Bang, which went on to have a lengthy Greek career as the Naias, lives on in this outstanding model by Per Rimmen which came up for auction a couple of years ago. Meanwhile some classic DFDS views of a vintage similar to the Jens Bang can be found here.
  • This significance of this remarkable video, including close-up views of the open bow visor and ramp arrangements of the Wasa King (ex-Viking Sally, later Estonia) arriving at UmeÃ¥ is self-evident.
  • Was Gothenburg the coolest place on Earth in 1973? One would think so from this video – and if, like the folk seen from 10:15 onwards, you could sail in and out on the Stena Jutlandica, Stena Olympica, Prinsessan Christina and Tor Anglia or jet around on those Finnair or KLM DC-9s who can argue?
  • The Stena Danica of 1965 at Gothenburg.

    The Stena Nordica of 1965 at Gothenburg.

  • The first Stena Nordica burnt out in Venezuelan service in 1980 but the wreck remains off the island of Cubagua where it is popular with divers. The original Stena bow markings are still visible in this shot.

    What, meanwhile, has become of the ‘Nordica”s sister, the first Stena Danica? The ship saw lengthy service after 1969 as the Lucy Maud Montgomery in Canada before disposal in 1999. The most recent images I can find of her are as the Lady Caribe I, laid up in Key West in the early 2000s. In late 2007 Shippax reported her sold to “Dominican buyers” but there the trail goes cold.

  • Jadrolinija capers in Drvenik Mali. The ship is the PeljeÅ¡canka, locally-built in 1971 and based on the design of the earlier trio of ships bought by the company from Greece.
  • It is not always plain sailing in Croatia as this rough weather film taken aboard the Ero (ex-Aero) in the late 1960s demontrates. This ship was laid up several years ago and reported sold for scrap in late 2009; however as of May 2011 she still lay amongst the Jadrolinija reserve fleet in Cres.
  • The Lovrjenac seen during her terminal lay up at Mali Losinj in August 2008. The bridge of her similarly retired fleetmate, the Novalja, can be seen to the left.

    The Lovrjenac seen during her terminal lay up at Mali Losinj in August 2008. The bridge of her similarly retired fleetmate, the Novalja, can be seen to the left.

  • The latest edition of Ferry & Cruise Review includes a picture of the Lovrjenac (ex-Norris Castle) being scrapped at Aliaga, to which she was towed, along with the Novalja (ex-Kalmarsund V) in late May. The Lovrjenac’s Red Funnel and Jadrolinija fleetmate the Nehaj (ex-Cowes Castle) also found her career at an end this year – like the Božava she was scrapped near Venice.

  • With her interlude as a floating bar in Mali Losinj apparently not a success the veteran Marina (ex-Kronprinsessan Ingrid (1936)) has been relocated to Rijeka which will hopefully be better able to support her activities.
  • Although it is hard to establish whether the Middle Eastern operator Namma Lines are still operating, a few months ago the company did post some Youtube guides to two of their ships: the Mawaddah (ex-King Minos) and the Masarrah (ex-St Columba).
  • The sister to the Mawaddah, the former N Kazantzakis/Shiretoku Maru is today the Kowloon-based cruise ship Metropolis.
  • The Lissos.

    The Lissos.

  • ANEK’s Lissos was sent for scrap earlier in the year and her arrival in Alang was captured for the record. The Lissos was an interesting and slightly-awkward looking ship but one I will miss. Certainly the officers of the cargo vessel featured in this near-miss video will not quickly forget her.
  • The final demise of the GA Ferries fleet was extensively recorded locally – here is an interesting video taken on board the Daliana just before her departure for the scrapyard whilst the final, slow, death march of the Romilda out of Piraeus can be seen here. Similar videos can also be found showing the final departures of the Daliana, the Marina and the Samothraki.
  • This 1994 video of Chandris’s The Azur (ex-Eagle) transiting the Corinth Canal shows what an exciting part of any voyage on any ship this is for passengers.
  • Crazy drivers in Piraeus are nothing new it seems – various classic passenger ships make cameo appearances in this clip from the movie The Burglars of 1971.
  • © hhvferry.com

    © hhvferry.com

  • The author of the the guidebook Greek Island Hopping, Frewin Poffley, sometimes appears to be lacking in any real understanding of the ferry business but has managed to carve out a niche selling his book to travellers to the Greek islands. Good luck to him – but repeated requests that he address the unauthorised use of the Aqua Maria image featured here (taken by me on the quayside at Drapetsona on 23 November 2010 and included in this post last year) have met with no response. Poor show old chap.
  • If you are going to plagiarise images from across the internet, then at least there should be the upside of creating a useful resource; this plundered collection of photographs of the Greek Naxos show the ship throughout her Greek career.
  • Another locally-built Greek ship, a few years younger than the Naxos, was the Santorini which subsequently passed to Indian owners, remaining there until apparently being withdrawn earlier this year. The ship is pictured here alongside the former Suilven (now Bharat Seema) in India whilst there are some interal pictures here and an outstanding voyage report here.
  • The Kefalonia.

    The Kefalonia.

  • Since the original company was absorbed into Attica several years ago it has been a rare sight to see more than one Strintzis ferry in port at a time. On the occasion that the current pair of ships of the revived Strintzis Ferries switched routes in July, however, it was possible to view the Eptanisos and the Kefalonia side by side.
  • The state of the Greek economy means rumours fly around regarding the futures of several of the ferries owned by operators in that country. Whilst Endeavor Lines earlier in the year strongly denied those concerning their operations, their Ionian Queen has recently appeared as a ‘premium listing’ on the website of a well-known ship broker. For six years this ships and her sister, the Ionian King, have been the best ships in Southern Adriatic service and the sale of the ‘King’ back to Japanese owners by Agoudimos Lines earlier this year was tempered somewhat by the survival of the ‘Queen’. The departure of both ships would be a sad loss to the ferry operations out of Brindisi and Bari.
  • Endeavor’s other operational ship is the Elli T which one has to think stands a chance of heading to the breakers rather than further service were she to be sold. Leaping back to her original life as the Japanese Okudogo 3, this series of images show what an eccentric but fascinating ferry she was (and to large degree still is) aboard.
  • A ship which sailed from Japan to Greece in 2010 was the 1991-built New Hiyama, purchased by ANENDYK for local Cretan service. The ship, renamed Sfakia I, berthed in the port of Souda (Chania), ostensibly for rebuild, but has remained there ever since – to the intrigue of locals. An interesting video providing a tour of the accommodation has appeared on Youtube.
  • Last but not least:
    Hengist (as Agios Georgios)
    Horsa (as Penelope A)
    Vortigern (as Milos Express)
  • Boulogne & The Canterbury

    Boulogne in in 1965 or 1966 with the St Patrick and Normannia at the Gare Maritime. Across the Liane on the Quai Gambetta is the General Steam Navigation Co.'s Queen of the Channel which operated excursion sailings from various Thames ports until 1966.

    Boulogne in 1965 or 1966 with the St Patrick and Normannia at the Gare Maritime. Across the Liane on the Quai Gambetta is the General Steam Navigation Co.'s Queen of the Channel which operated excursion sailings from various Thames ports until 1966.


    Visits to Boulogne-sur-Mer are always slightly haunting for me. This port town, which was massively damaged in the Second World War, rebuilt itself into the Channel port in the 1950s and much of the 1960s. For my family, it was almost always the continental port of arrival for motoring holidays – even back in the ’80s it was still a major port with two or three million passengers passing through each year. The years since then have been tough, and it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the busy, tourist and transport-oriented Boulogne of my childhood to the more sedate town of today. Boulogne lost out to Calais in the end for a variety of reasons but it was a protracted decline, culminating in December 1991 when Sealink Stena Line, ultimate successor to the railway operators who had placed such importance in sailings to Boulogne, closed their car ferry service from Folkestone.

    Just over twelve months after Sealink’s exit, the final mainstream conventional ferry service, operated by P&O, closed. Various low-profile freight services continued to Folkestone for a few years, together with Hoverspeed’s SeaCat but both ceased not long after the turn of the century. For three long years the port was desolate until Speedferries, sometimes more of a PR machine than a ferry operator, arrived in May 2004. As with most of the more recent operators, they proved to be a short-lived affair and closed amidst unpaid port dues and an arrested Speed One in late 2008.

    LD Lines are the latest operator to try their hand in Boulogne. Their Norman Arrow and Côte d’Albâtre have operated between them from Dover for much of 2009 but now it seems that the route’s real saviour will be the Norman Spirit (ex-Prins Filip/P&OSL Aquitaine). Operations will, however, be from the new hub port in the Darse Sarraz Bournet – which is nearer the hoverport at La Portel than the Gare Maritime in the heart of town. And so, any unanticipated future operation by Euroferries aside, use of the traditional arrival point for cross-channel passengers has come to an end. I’ll be looking at the history of Boulogne in more detail in the future, but here are a couple of images of the famous quayside from last month. The sad state of the linkspan at berth 15, built in 1965 to coincide with the introduction of the Dover, is of particular interest – this was for many years used by Sealink’s Hengist and Horsa and is the oldest remaining span at the port; the original 1952 linkspan around the corner at berth 13 was replaced by the present double deck structure in 1984 which, having been modified for fast craft use, was in operation right up to the transfer of LD Lines to the new port in September 2009.

    Berth 15, October 2009.

    Berth 15, October 2009.





    Standing on the Quai Gambetta to take those images, with the post-war Gare Maritime in the background, one can turn 180 degrees to see further evidence of the post-war reconstruction. Firstly, still dominating the portscape are the ‘Quatre buildings du Quai Gambetta’, four twelve-storey tower blocks, icons of French modernism which were recently the subject of an interesting exhibition at the local School of Art. Along the quayside slightly is the 1950s Chamber of Commerce building, whose interest in this case lies inside where it houses a model of perhaps the most contemporarily famous ship ever to have served the port.

    The Canterbury at Boulogne.

    The Canterbury at Boulogne.

    The Canterbury was completed by Denny of Dumbarton in 1929, being launched just before Christmas the previous year. She was built especially for use in connection with the all-first class Golden Arrow which operated from London Victoria to Paris Nord (via Dover-Calais) from May 1929 onwards. The Canterbury benefits from perhaps the finest biography of any cross-channel vessel, the mesmerising The Canterbury Remembered, a difficult to find limited edition of only 150 copies by Henry Maxwell. Certainly I find it hard to dispute Maxwell’s assertion that the Canterbury was “probably the best known, certainly the best loved cross-channel steamer there has ever been”. It is difficult to place this fame in a modern context when ferries only attain such prominence through infamy. Yet, used as she was by the ruling elite on one of most important transport connections with the Continent she, and the Golden Arrow, seeped into the public consciousness.

    Modern historians, rightly, look for an empathetic angle to any historical situation – this first class deluxe service is all well and good but how did the “real people” live, what does this ship have to do with them? During World War 2 and in her later years, the Canterbury managed to bridge the class divide that she was born in many ways to represent. A notable war service saw the ship deliver troops to Calais and Boulogne not long before both ports fell, then being present at both Dunkirk and D Day. Post-war, replaced at last by the new Invicta (which had been due for delivery in 1940 but entered railway service in 1946) she was moved over to Folkestone and operated for most of the rest of her career to Boulogne where, latterly, her passenger complements were, “in the great majority either day excursionists or members of tourist parties organised by the big travel agents: Lunn, Workers Travel Association, Wayfarers and the like”.

    As such, and together with the Isle of Thanet and the early car ferries, she helped re-popularise Boulogne both as a transit port and a destination. And it was the Canterbury which opened the new Gare Maritime which we today note the closure of: designed by the architects Georges Popesco and André Lacoste this was a modernist, almost utopian vision of the future with sweeping concrete ramps and a quite unique and complete integration of car ferry terminal with railway station. Delays in the completion of the car ramp saw the official opening delayed until 16 June 1952 with an arrival by the brand new Lord Warden but it was the Canterbury which made the maiden sailing, on 30 May.

    The post-war Gare Maritime with, alongisde, the Canterbury and Lord Warden (bottom left, the latter at the original car ferry berth) and the Isle of Thanet (top).

    The post-war Gare Maritime with, alongside, the Canterbury and Lord Warden (bottom left, the latter at the original car ferry berth) and the Isle of Thanet (top).


    New & old at Boulogne - the Canterbury alongside one of the curving concrete roadways used by departing vehicles after they had disembarked from the new car ferry at berth 13. The Quatre Buildings du Quai Gambetta can be seen on the other side of the Liane.

    New & old at Boulogne - the Canterbury alongside one of the curving concrete roadways used by departing vehicles after they had disembarked from the car ferry at berth 13. The Quatre Buildings du Quai Gambetta can be seen on the other side of the Liane.


    The Canterbury arriving at Boulogne stern-first late in her career.  In the foreground is the post-war Casino, designed by Marcel Bonhomme and opened in 1960, which replaced the structure damaged by fire in 1937 and left in ruins after the war. This is now the location of Nausicaä, the French National Centre for the Sea, opened in 1991.

    The Canterbury arriving at Boulogne stern-first late in her career. In the foreground is the post-war Casino, designed by Marcel Bonhomme and opened in 1960, which replaced the structure damaged by fire in 1937 and left in ruins after the war. This is now the location of Nausicaä, the French National Centre for the Sea, opened in 1991.

    The model of the Canterbury which resides in the foyer of the Chamber of Commerce was presented to the French nearly 50 years ago, on 4 December 1959. It was the (BR) Southern Region’s own model and was given to Boulogne at the suggestion of M. Sarraz-Bournet “as a permanent reminder of the town’s historic links with England, and as a souvenir of the ship’s long association with the port”. To this day, however, it retains its little sign noting that “this model is on loan from the collection of the British Transport Commission” (BTC).

    The BTC was abolished by the Transport Act of 1962.






    Boulogne was the quintessential Cross-Channel port – unlike Calais, the ferry port was physically a part of the city itself, yet clearly with a view beyond its visible horizons. Boulogne was the first taste of France for hundreds of thousands of travellers over many decades and for many the experience of arrival by ship and onward connection by rail was gripping and memorable. In his book Gateway to the Continent E W P Veale remembers “the childhood thrill of a day trip from Folkestone to Boulogne in the Lord Warden [of 1896], the old town of Boulogne rising behind the quay and crowned by the Cathedral; in the foreground the unfamiliar French rolling stock, French locomotives with working parts freely exposed and stove-pipe funnels; carriages in the smart green livery of the “Nord”; and the brown match-board panelling of the Wagons-Restaurants and Wagons-Lits.”

    Recent years have not been kind – the post-war Gare Maritime remains, but in a continually declining state. Until just a couple of years ago however it was possible to wander around the abandoned railway station with its ripped up railway lines and the adjacent quaysides. Today, chain link fencing prevents even that nostalgic pleasure. Despite its cultural and architectural significance, the only future seems likely to be demolition.

    The Canterbury was towed away from Dover for scrapping in Belgium in July 1965. For now, the Gare Maritime which she opened still glowers across the Liane at the Chamber of Commerce building housing that perpetual reminder of both the ship and of the sea links between Boulogne and England.

    The Canterbury alongside the post war Gare Maritime.

    The Canterbury alongside the post war Gare Maritime.


    The Gare Maritime in August 2008, with berth 15 to the left.

    The Gare Maritime in August 2008, with berth 15 to the left.


    “She is moving. She is moving ever so slightly forward and as she moves her bow swings round to port and she is headed up towards the jetties…. she becomes an anthology of images: she is a swan gliding upon a lake, a floating island upon some inland sea, a seagull with wings folded at rest upon still water, a ballerina bourree-ing her way before the footlights. Barely moving and yet already with all her lines, rakes and sheers melting and deliquescent.

    And now she grows in size and majesty as she enters the channel between the jetty arms, seeming taller as funnel and masts converge into one ascendant perpendicular; moving with only a sluggish ripple curving from her bows, and with another lazily upheaving behind her stern: surprisingly and surpassingly beautiful.

    And behind her, in the Inner Port, there is a sudden emptiness as her presence is withdrawn – that presence which all afternoon has drawn the eye and which has constituted, of itself, a kind of heart-beat in the port, a heart-beat now stilled.

    And all along the seaward-reaching jetty fishermen with their rods and lines, and innumerable strollers promenading there, see her pass. And the sluggish tide beneath them, already low about the jetty piles, falls in her wake lower yet and is sucked backwards uncovering the dark barnacle-encrusted stone on which the piles are set.

    And the water as it is swallowed backwards and then sluggishly regurgitated produces a sound as of a low, reluctant sigh: as if the tide were bidding the departing ship adieu.

    And as she passes the jetty’s end and stands out into the roadstead the afternoon sunlight falls directly upon her retreating stern, illuminating it with golden fire so that the lettering across it seems all to be ablaze –
    CANTERBURY
    LONDON

    Henry Maxwell, A Boulogne departure in ‘The Canterbury Remembered’

    The Canterbury leaving Boulogne.

    The Canterbury leaving Boulogne.

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