Posts tagged: leopard

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 – November 2010

The Anthi Marina, Milena and Dimitroula laid up in Piraeus outer harbour.

The Anthi Marina, Milena and Dimitroula laid up in Piraeus outer harbour.

  • The laid up GA Ferries fleet in Piraeus has been put up for auction by the port authority. The following starting bids have been specified:

    DIMITROULA €1,277,000
    ANTHI MARINA €2,128,000
    ROMILDA €979,000
    MILENA €957,000
    MARINA €1,309,000
    RODANTHI €1,383,000
    DALIANA €957,500

    One wonders which shipboard delights make the Daliana €500 more valuable than her sister the Milena. Truthfully, I doubt many will miss most of these ships all of which were fairly grim clunkers at the very bottom of the market by the time GA Ferries finally gave up the ghost. The Dimitroula, whilst not an exception to that comment, was perhaps the most interesting, retaining many of her pocket Italian liner stylings through her Greek career. The fast craft Jetferry I, tucked up in the inner harbour adjacent to the berths of the smaller Blue Star ships, has already been repossessed by her secured creditors so is excluded from the list.

    There are some slightly haunting videos of the ships in the outer harbour, creaking and groaning at their berths here and here.

    The same set of videos also features a close up consideration of the Mediterranean Sky, once of Karageorgis Lines and before that Ellerman’s City of York but now a sunken, rusting hulk in a corner of Elefsis Bay.

    Meanwhile, near to the end of her operational days, life on board a Christmassy Romilda was captured by a nautilia user with the highly commendable name of ‘vortigern’.

  • The final departure of the Athens from Igoumenitsa en route for scrapping was captured for posterity – the vessel had served Ventouris Ferries for approaching a quarter of a century and had survived through all of the troubles of the family’s shipping operations – being right on the spot of disaster on occasion as pictures of her, freshly painted, alongside the sunken Grecia Express (ex-Norwind) prove.
  • Another former British ferry whose operational career in Greece was cut short at an early stage was the Theseus (ex-Dundalk, St Cybi). She did see service for a while however, as evidenced by this highly entertaining video of her berthing in rough weather at Kythira in 1993. Comedy highlights include the lost tyre bouncing around behind a disembarking vehicle and, somewhat cruelly, the lady who manages to drench herself as she attempts to embark by running up to and over the vehicle ramp.
  • ‘Mr Snail’ has a fine collection on flickr of images of and on board many of the lesser lights of the currently operational Greek domestic fleet, large and small.
  • The recent collision of the Superferry II (ex-Prince Laurent) with the pier in Tinos rang a bell and a quick search revealed a similar incident in Andros a couple of years ago – with rather more dramatic consequences for those on board.
  • The many and varied incidents which have affected BC Ferries’ fleet are documented in this remarkable youtube video which formed part of local TV coverage of the sinking of the Queen of the North.

    Meanwhile, this series of videos shows Tsawwassen terminal and the Queen of New Westminster being pounded by wet & wild weather in 2007.

  • Whilst Corsica Ferries seem somehow less accident-prone than rivals Moby, this image of the stern of the Mega Express shows that they still have their share of mishaps.
  • Continuing the theme of accidents and incidents, the former Ursula of Scandinavian Ferry Lines, latterly the Cozumel II, was washed ashore at Chinchorro Bank in Mexico during Hurricane Wilma in 2005. In May of this year she was finally released from her predicament as evidenced by this local television report.
  • Staying in Mexico, it is nearly three years since the Victory of Grandi Navi Veloci was sold to Baja Ferries where she operates as the Chihuahua Star alongside the California Star (ex-Stena Forwarder). She appears to have settled down quite well in operation, but, as can be seen from this voyage report, remains very much a GNV ship onboard.
  • Sessan Linjen was one of the more prestigious and upscale early car ferry operators and the company’s absorption by local rivals Stena Line in 1982 remains in many ways regrettable The vast majority of Sessan’s fleet were purpose-built and some interesting images are found here and here whilst a snatched recording of cars boarding the Prinsessan Desiree in Gothenburg in the early 1970s can be seen here. Today, Sessan’s Gothenburg terminal is the only remaining local link with the company, it now being home to Stena’s Kiel operation.
  • Mention of Stena and their early, rapid, growth prompts a quick link to one of my all time favourite ferry photographs, from the Dover Ferry Photos website, showing the little Stena Danica of 1965 in Dover alongside the Free Enterprise III and the Roi Baudouin. Stubby and small, she still manages to somehow outshine her equally modern rivals.
  • That Stena Danica image was taken during her brief charter to Townsend over the Winter of 1967/68 and just a couple of months later Pathé news ventured aboard the brand-new Dragon on her promotional visit to London to film this footage of one of the more attractive British-registered car ferries. The recording also resolves a minor query I had as to just what the Dragon featured in her main lobby, where her sister Leopard had a leopard clambering up the liftshaft (below). To the surprise of nobody it was a dragon (below x2), but still it is nice to see just what it looked like. As can also be seen both ships had Bayeux Tapestry extracts around the lobby’s upper circle.
    A leopard on the Leopard...

    A leopard on the Leopard...


    ...and a dragon on the Dragon.

    ...and a dragon on the Dragon.

  • The branch lines serving former railway ports still capture the imaginations of many and video tributes to those at Folkestone and Weymouth have found their way onto youtube. The Weymouth version includes some entertaining footage of cars being moved out of the way of the train as it passes along the quayside. Over at Folkestone, spread over three parts are some excellent clips of trains transiting the harbour line:
    Part One
    Part Two
    Part Three
  • The departure of the SNAV Sicilia (ex-Norland) for scrap is a reminder that this ship was once very famous indeed in her homeport of Kingston-upon-Hull. The Norland pub in Hessle remains a well-known local hostelry, whilst the name of Norland ARLFC continues to bring a wry smile to ferry enthusiast observers of the Hull & District League (this may indeed be a very limited number of people). Meanwhile a house on Norland Avenue doesn’t sound too bad a proposition, although that may depend on one’s view of the merits of living in Hull.

    The East Yorkshire version of the BBC’s Look North carried a decent segment on her demise (no longer available on iplayer but a related news item is here); the Hull Daily Mail predictably missed the story altogether.

  • It comes as a rude shock that some people don’t take ferry enthusiasm as seriously as this blog ceaselessly strives to. An entertaining critique of Brian Haresnape’s book Sealink, a revered tome in the eyes of this writer, can be found on the four pages of this link to an irreverent car forum – page 2 onwards are frankly not for the faint hearted.
  • Staying with Sealink and the ITN website has some interesting coverage of newsworthy events from the 1980s:
    ‘Save Our Senlac’
    On board the strikebound Earl Harold
    Refloating the Hengist
  • Lastly, the arrival of the Istra for scrapping in Aliaga didn’t go undocumented and below are some links to a series of images of and on board the old ship as she was prepared for cutting up (click on the thumbnails to go to the original urls):
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    (h/t Brodovi i pomorstvo)

  • Please send any contributions for ‘Things Seen’ to admin@hhvferry.com.

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