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Although the main operators of paddle steamers were the operators of the so-called "Seebaderschiffe" linking the main north German coastal ports with the seaside resorts on the off-shore islands in the North Sea, there were smaller local operators running between the islands and to the nearby mainland.

German North Sea Coast and Islands : Operators based on the island of Sylt

Sylter Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft

The Sylter Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft, founded locally  in 1882, established a ferry connection from Munkmarsch on the island to the mainland at Hoyer, which at the time was German Imperial territory and only reverted to Denmark in 1920,
Their first paddle steamer was Germania which was bought from the Clauen Shipping Co and the new paddle steamers Sylt (1884) and Westerland (1885) quickly followed.

Above : Westerland in 1902 or 1903. Photo from wikicommons courtesy of the H-B Christiansen family collection
Westerland was built by Howaldt at Kiel in 1885. 32.3 m in length with a compound engine,

The company ordered to new Nordsee from J Howaldt for service from 1892 and kept the 36.7 metre-long, triple expansion powered vessel until 1904 when she was sold to Aktieselskabet Turisten, based in Copenhagen. In Denmark she was renamed Prince Hamlet and was the company's only paddler. From 1910 to 1921 she sailed out of Ringkobing on the coastal lagoon-like Ringkobing Fjord and then briefly out of Aalborg until she returned to Ringkobing for her final three years before being scrapped in late 1924

A number of small screw steamers joined the fleet but two larger paddle steamers were to follow : Frisia (1902) and Freya (1904)

The company, from 1907 under the control of a local bank, continued until 1927 when the opening of the Hindenburgdamm, a causeway linking the island to the mainland was opened with a new railway line.

Both of the relatively modern paddle steamers found further use, sailing between Lubeck and Travemunde on the River Trave as Adam (Freya) and Eva (Frisia). Interestingly they swapped names during their first season after Adam was involved in a collision with a bridge in Lubeck harbour, the reason was reportedly to avoid negative associations with the name Adam.  Both ships were sold to separate operators in East Prussia in 1933.
Westerland had been sold in 1926 to the nearby mainland town of Husum, renamed Stadt Husum and put into service operating local excursions until 1935  

Above : Freya of 1904 (photo source : wikipedia)
Built in 1904 by Janssen & Schmilinsky at Hamburg
Length : 35.4 m (116.3 ft) :  147 GRT
Engine : Compound diagonal
The last paddle steamer built for the Sylt company. Later named Adam and then Eva when at Lubeck, Freia was later successful sailing on the River Memel out of Tilsit for Captain Wilhelm Skorloff with the new name Grenzland. With the approaching end of World War II and the fleeing of the East Prussian population in the face of advancing Soviet troops, Grenzland, filled with refugees sailed west reportedly reaching Copenhagen although encountering difficulties on the Swedish shore near Karlskrona. Her life was not over. She served briefly at Lubeck again then as a static restaurant ship in Emden from 1950 to 1966, remaining under the ownership of Wilhelm Skorloff, captain turned restauranteur. Not finished yet, she spent a short time in The Netherlands when she sank at her moorings in the river Waal and was scrapped thereafter

German North Sea Coast and Islands : Operators based on the island of Foehr

On the island of Foehr, a service ran between the island's settlement Wyk and Dagebuell, close-by on the mainland

Fohringer Dampfschiffahrt Gesellschaft

Built in 1883 by G Howaldt at Kiel
Length 29 m (extended to 32.05m  in 1884)
Engine : compound diagonal
Operated until 1894 when it moved to Stettin to the JF Breunlich company
In 1896 it was transferred to the Lubzin-Berglander Dampfschiffs Verein and later to the local owners Josef Bahlke (1906) who renamed her Grossherzog Friedrich Franz and then to Carl Schroeder (1911)
In 1920 the ship was sold to Danish interests and in 1923 to the Aktieselskabet Lillebelt-Overfarten based at Assens who renamed her Queen Alexandrine. She sailed between Assens and Aarosund on the "Little Belt" crossing
Scrappped in 1931

A consortium of citizens of Wyk established the Wyker Rhederei Gesellschaft in 1885 - a company which can trace its life to the present day Wyker-Dampfschiffs-Reederei Foehr Amrun GmbH. Although its early ships were primarily small screw steamers, it did operate two paddle steamers :

Wyker Rhederei Gesellschaft

Built in 1866 by Janssen & Schmelinski at Hamburg
Length :  39.27 m   102  GRT
Bought in 1869 from Gebruder Burmester of Lauenburg
Sailed between Wyk (Foehr) and Munkmarsch (Sylt)
Sold in 1899. Scrapped in 1901

Built in 1877 by G Howaldt at Kiel
Length :  33.52 m   74 GRT
Bought in 1902
Sold in 1907 to Gebr. Burmester of Lauenburg and renamed Freya
Sold for use in Poland in 1923


Deutsche Seebaderschiffe 1830 bis 1939
By Claus Rothe
Published in 1989 by Transpress : VEB Verlag fur Verkehrswesen, Berlin
ISBN 3-344-00393-3
Short history of services to Germany's northern seaside resorts both North Sea and Baltic, including detailed vessel profiles of the many vessels.

Raddampfer auf der Niederelbe - Im Linien- und Faehrdienst, auf Seebaderfahrt : von 1816 bis 1964
By Kurt Grobecker & Hans V Buschmann
Published in 2002 by Convent Verlag
ISBN 3-934613-34-9
Comprehensive history of services and vessels on the lower Elbe and routes out to the seaside resorts

Go to

Bremen / River Weser based operators
Emden / River Ems, Borkum & Norderney based operators

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Historical Database