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German North Sea Coast and Islands
The establishment of "holiday resorts" can be traced back to 1797 with the development of Norderney. Steam navigation began in 1816 on the River Elbe between Hamburg and Cuxhaven with PS Lady of the Lake in an unsuccessful attempt by a British concessionaire to establish the new method of transport. In the following year PS Weser took up operation from Bremen on the river after which she took her name and from this point, steam navigation grew quickly with a proliferation of companies looking for a share of the burgeoning demand.

The offshore islands of Helgoland and, latterly, Sylt became popular destinations and substantial sea-going paddlers were required for what could at times be an extremely choppy crossing. A number of companies came to dominate the trade - Norddeutche Lloyd (NDL) at Bremen, Hamburg-Amerikanischen Packetfahrt (HAPAG) at Hamburg. These companies were also to become important players in the international shipping business. More localised services were also provided on the Weser and Elbe estuaries around Bremen and Hamburg.

The first iron-hulled steamer was the Greenock-built PS Helgoland of 1854, which brought new levels of speed and comfort to the Helgoland route. Motorised vessels were introduced during the 1920s. The paddler PS Hamburg survived on Elbe estuarine services until the outbreak of World War II, at which time PS Frisia IV was on the short crossing to Norderney and PS Westfalen running out of Emden on the longer trip to Helgoland

Paddle Steamer Operating Companies (with place of registration):

Norddeutche Lloyd (NDL) - Bremen
Hamburg-Amerikanischen Packetfahrt (HAPAG) - Hamburg

Other companies - Hamburg / River Elbe based:

Ballin's Dampfschiff-Rheederei-Gesellschaft - Hamburg
Johann Cesar Godeffroy & Sohn - Hamburg
Blohm & Voss -Hamburg
Wachsmuth & Krogemann - Hamburg
Frisia GmbH - Altona, Hamburg
Hafen Dampfschiffahrts AG (HADAG) - Hamburg
Hamburg-Stade-Altlander Linie - Hamburg
Cuxhaven-Unterelbe'sche Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft - Cuxhaven

Other companies - Bremen / River Weser based

BW Riedemann / Weser-Verkehrs-GmbH - Bremen

Other companies - River Ems based:

AG Ems - Emden
Leerer Dampfschiffsgesellschaft - Leer

Other companies - based in the Ostfriesische Islands:

Norderney Dampfschiffs-Reederei "Einigkeit" - Norderney
Dampfschiffs-Reederei Frisia - Norderney / AG Reederei Norden-Frisia - Norderney

A large number of smaller companies operating screw vessels existed to operate specific routes, usually short journeys from the mainland coast to the close offshore islands.

Further details of the following paddlers which followed PS Helgoland are available in the following publication:

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.

Helgoland (later PS Raccon)

Built by Caird & Co at Greenock, Scotland
Dimensions : 141 ft x 21.2 ft
Owner : JC Godeffroy & Sohn, Hamburg
Route : Hamburg - Helgoland
Sold in March 1863 for use in Britain as a tug under the name PS Raccon


Launched on August 17th 1864 by Caird & Co at Greenock, Scotland
Owner : HAPAG
Dimensions : 67.6 m x 6.8 m
402 Gross Registered Tonnes
Originally ordered as PS Herald by US Confedates for blockade-running, but bought by Stewart & Co of Glasgow
Sold to HAPAG in 1866 and renamed PS Cuxhaven
Sold in 1884 to the Cuxhaven-Unterelbesche-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (Cuxhaven-Lower Elbe Railway Co)
Sold in 1890 to the Ballin steamship company of Hamburg, but operated on the Baltic Sea out of Stettin
Stranded and sank off the north German coast on July 24th 1891 with the loss of three lives

Helgoland (ex - PS Ixion, ex - PS Svea)

Built in 1858 by Motala mekaniska verkstad, Motala, Sweden
Dimensions : 68.6 m x 8.4 m
618 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for operation in Sweden as PS Svea
Sold for use out of London, England in 1860 and renamed PS Ixion
Purchased by HAPAG in August 1872, being placed on the Hamburg-Helgoland route.
Sold in May 1879 to Schweffel & Howaldt, shipowners at Kiel
Heavily rebuilt in 1884 (gaining a second funnel and a new GRT of 729)
Sold in 1886 for use at Trieste as PS Cattaro
From 1897 was in operation at Naples, Italy
Scrapped in 1913

Delphin (later PS Furst Blucher)

Built in 1877 by Reihersteig Schiffswerft at Hamburg
Dimensions : 40.96 x 5.78 metres
Built for the Hamburg shipowners Wachsmuth & Krogemann and on the route from Hamburg to Harburg from 1878-1895
Sold to Franz Rathje of Warnemunde in 1895 and operated on the Baltic Sea as PS Furst Blucher
A series of quick changes of ownership led her to come into the hands of captain Ewald Moller in 1901 until sold in 1924

Prinzes Marie (later PS Germania)

Launched on December 10th 1877 by J Elder & Co at Glasgow, Scotland
Dimensions : 84.79 x 10.69 metres
1566 Gross Registered Tonnes
Ordered by the Stoomvaart Maatschappij "Zeeland" of Vlissingen, Netherlands as PS Prinzes Marie
Placed on the route from its home port to Queenborough in England
Sailed in 1896 under charter to Albert Ballin, a large Hamburg-based shipowner, on the Hamburg-Helgoland service
Sold in December 1898 to JF Braunlich for service out of Stettin to sassnitz and also to Trelleborg in Sweden and renamed PS Germania
Sold for scrapping in 1902

Forelle (known as PS Strandlust in 1925)

Built in 1881 by Bremer Vulkan at Bremen
Dimensions : 61.3 x 13.8 metres
298 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for Norddeutsche Lloyd for their Bremen-Bremerhaven service, but also with extended service to the coastal resorts
Sailed for NDL along with PS Hecht, PS Lachs and PS Delphin until sold in 1915 as NDL withdrew from Weser River services.
Came into the ownership of Mr B W Riedemann, who established the Weser-Verkehrs GmbH in 1920
Passed to Mr C H Boer in 1925 as PS Strandlust, but this existing ship owner and his company went bankrupt in August of that year
The ship was taken over by the Schreiber Brothers, also of Bremen, being given its original name Forelle.
Served between Bremen and Bremerhaven with intervening piers until sold to the German Navy in 1932 as a target ship


Launched on May 20th 1885 by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg
Dimensions : 71.9 x 8.1 metres
683 Gross Registered Tonnes
Operated by her builders, Blohm & Voss from Hamburg to Helgoland with occasional extensions to Wyk (on the island Foehr)
After her first season she was transferred to the Ostend - Dover ferry route and spent subsequent winteres on the Riviera.
She returned to her Helgoland service each summer, even after purchase in 1889 by the Ballin Shipping Company
Sold to JF Braunlich of Stettin in 1896, she was substantialy altered , being increased to 858 GRT
Sailed from Stettin to the coastal and the island of Rugen and also on the sea crossing to Trelleborg in Sweden
Scrapped in 1929.


Launched in May 1886 by Josef Meyer at Papenburg
Dimensions : 37.7 m x 5.04 m
116 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for the Leerer-Dampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft based at the small town of Leer on the Ems estuary
Served from Leer to the Ostfriesische Islands, particularly Borkum and Norderney
In 1901, Augusta became part of the fleet of A G Ems, her erstwhile competitor.
Scrapped in 1932


Launched on March 2nd 1889 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering at Glasgow, Scotland
Dimensions: 80.7 m x 10.1 m
1146 Gross Registered Tonnes
Ordered by the well-known Glasgow Burns company who had a domination of the Glasgow to Northern Ireland trade
Not taken into the Burns fleet she was briefly owned by North Wales interests and named PS St Tudno
Sold almost immediately during 1890 to the Ballin company at Hamburg and named PS Cobra
From 1897 her owners traded as Nordsee-Linie before being taken over by HAPAG in 1905
Served her summers on the hamburg to Helgoland and Sylt service
In the winter of 1902-1903 she sailed under cgarter from Genoa, Italy
Reboilered and refurbished in 1919 but passed to French owners as war reparations
HAPAG repurchased the vessel in 1920 but her time was short, being sold in December 1921 to breakers.

Hamburg (ex - Rhein)

Built in 1888 by L Smith & Zoon at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
Dimensions : 67 x 7.1 m
Built for service on the Rhine as PS Rhein until bought in 1924 by the Hamburg-Stade-Altlander-Linie
Given the name PS Hamburg, reflecting her being used mostly on the lower River Elbe around this city.
With her owners business, she passed to the Hafen-Dampfschiffahrt AG in 1929
Sold in 1939 to owners at Stettin on the Baltic Sea, she returned to Hamburg in 1940 and went soon afterwards to the River Oder.
Spent World War II as an accommodation vessel, returning to Hamburg in poor condition in 1948
Sold for scrapping at the end of 1954


Built in 1894 by F Schichau at Danzig (now Gdansk)
Engines : Triple Expansion
Dimensions : 71.2 x 9.2 m
724 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for Norddeutsche Lloyd's service from Bremerhaven to Helgoland
Spent the winter months in service at Naples, Italy
Spend World War I as a naval tender
After the war spent time in the Baltic Sea for NDL
Sold in 1928 and scrapped during 1929 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Willkommen (later Cuxhaven)

Click above for more details

Prinzessin Heinrich

Launched on April 11th 1896 by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg
Engines : Triple Expansion
Dimensions: 76.3 x 8.3 m
919 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for Ballin's Steamship Company of Hamburg which in the next year became the Nordsee-Linie GmbH
Chartered to HAPAG in 1904 for whom she spent winter months on the French & Italian Riviera
HAPAG took over the Nordsee-Linie in 1905
Laid up at Hamburg during World War I
Reactivated for a short period in 1919
Sold for scrapping in 1923


Built in 1899 by G Seebeck at Geestemunde
Engines : Triple Expansion
Dimensions: 75.4 x 9.2 m
728 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for Norddeutsche Lloyd for service from Bremen to Helgoland
Spent winter months in Italy.
Requisitioned by the Navy in World War I as a tender and auxiliary vessel
Returned to service in 1919 on the Baltic coast service between Swinemunde and Pillau
Purchased by Hamburg owner A Meyer in 1925 and registered with the Frisia GmbH in 1926
Returned to the Baltic and the port of Stettin in 1928
Scrapped in 1930 at Stettin

Hohenzollern (later Frisia IV)

Built in 1906 by Gebruder Sachsenberg at Rosslau/Elbe
Engines : Compound diagonal
Dimensions : 51.12 x 6.71 m
248 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for the Nordeneyer-Dampfschiffs-Reederei "Einigkeit" on their short Norddeich - Norderney service
Her owners went out of business in 1909 and new owners were the Neuen-Dampfschiffs-Reederei Frisia
Renamed PS Frisia IV
The Frisia company merged with another local operator in 1917 to form the AG Reederei-Norden-Frisia
Requisitioned for service in World War II in 1942 as a minesweeper.
Lost on war service


Built in 1907 by J L Meyer at Papenburg
Engines : Compound diagonal
Dimensions : 57.25 x 7.18 m
354 Gross Registered Tonnes
Built for the AG Ems at Emden for their service to the island of Borkum and for excursions to Helgoland
Requisitioned as a minesweeper in 1942
Sunk on June 15th 1944 during a bomb attack on St. Nazaire, France.

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