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North Sea Ferry Services : UK to Netherlands

Great Eastern Railway
International Services

The Great Eastern became the dominant railway in the Essex and Suffolk areas of the UK and operated tidal river excursions as well as a ferry service from Harwich to Rotterdam and later Hook of Holland and Antwerp. After 1923 became part of the London and North Eastern Railway, British Railways from 1948 and later Sealink Ferries and Stena Line.

Avalon (1864-1888, sold and eventiually went to Jamaica and was wrecked in 1909)
Richard Young (1871-1890, converted to screw propulsion and renamed Brandon)
Claud Hamilton (1875-1897, sold to City of London. Scrapped in 1914)
Princess of Wales
Lady Tyler

Adelaide  (1880-1896)

The last paddlers for Great Eastern's Harwich to Rotterdam service were built in 1880. Whilst of similar size, they were from different builders and fitted with completely different engines. The next new-builds (Ipswich and Norwich of 1883) were screw steamers

Above : Lady Tyler. Image in public domain

Lady Tyler
Built in 1880 by T & W Smith of North Shields (Yard no. 69)
Length :  261 ft (80m).  995  GRT
Engines : 2 x 3-cylinder diagonal  33, 44 and 44 in x 60 in  by R & W Hawthorn, Newcastle
Sold in 1893 to Earle's Shipbuilding & Engineering of Hull as a coal transporter
Briefly operated an unsuccessful ferry service between Liverpool and Douglas, Isle of Man in 1895 in opposition to the incumbent operators to Isle of Man Steam Packet Co.
Renamed Artemis in 1897
Sold for use as a coal hulk at Gravesend and survived in this role until 1955

Built in 1880 by Barrow Shipbuilding Co. (Yard no. 74)
Length :  254.2 ft (80m).  976  GRT
Engines : Oscillating 45 and 87 in x 72 in  by builders
Hulked in 1897


Local ferry and river excursion Services in East Anglia

The Great Eastern Railway also operated a number of river excursions between Ipswich and Harwich with small paddle steamers and some slightly larger vessels on coastal excursions from Harwich

Cardinal Wolsey
Ipswich (1864-1873)
Stour (1864-1878)
Pacific (1872-1877, originally built in 1864)
Orwell (1873-1890)
Stour (1878-1900, later used on the River Thames by the Thames Seamboat Co (1897) Ltd)

Norfolk (1882-1897, later Onyx for the Eastham Ferry Pleasure Gardens and Hotel Company)
Essex (1896-1913, sold for further use. In Greece 1919-1929)
Suffolk (1895-1931)
Norfolk (1900-1931. Sold for use at Edinburgh. Scrapped in 1935)

Above : post card view of Norfolk. The ultimate coastal and estuary steamer for the Great Eastern's local services was a ship comparable with those of many of the UK's coastal cruising areas. She was withdrawn along with her older fleet mate Suffolk in 1931, bringing about the end of paddle steamer operations in the area
Acknowledgement : Clydeships datanase / R Cox collection. Image in the public domain


Built in 1900 by Gourlay Bros. of Dundee (Yard no. 194)
Length : 184 ft (56 m)
Engines : Compound diagonal  23.5 and 45 in x 45 in.

Gourlay Brothers only built ten paddle steamers : five in the period 1861-75 and five from 1894-1903. Norfolk was their second-last.

Woolwich Ferry, River Thames, London

Woolwich (1890-1908, sold for use on the Queensferry Crossing, Firth of Forth)
Middlesex (1890-1908)

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Historical Database