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North Sea Ferry Services : UK to Netherlands

Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland (SMZ)
The company was established in 1875 and operated from Vlissingen in the Netherlands to Sheerness in Kent but switched to Queenborough for its second season. Paddlers maintained the Queenborough link. Prins Hendrick, built in 1895 was the last of the paddlers to be built. Screw ships were ordered from 1909 onwards and these more modern vessels were used on a new run to Folkestone. SMZ eventually went into partnership with the UK's London and North Eastern Railway and later with British Railways and shared the Hook of Holland to Harwich service with the British state-owned company which later became Sealink. In 1989 the Stena Line bought SMZ and in 1990 acquired Sealink, which had by then been privatised and owned by Sea Containers. 

The new company purchased three older steamers. Liverpool-built Stad Vlissingen and Stad Middelburg had served as blockade runners in the American Civil War as Southern and Northern. Stad Breda was the former Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Snaefell, built by Caird & Co at Greenock, For new tonnage, SMZ  went to the Clyde for its paddle steamer tonnage from John Elder & Co, which changed its name to Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co in 1886. New ships were ordered in batches of three, but after the 1895 sisters, the next batch, in 1909 and also from the Fairfield yard, were turbine steamers. This led to a cull of the paddlers, with those remaining in the fleet taking the day services and the turbines the night runs.

The 1886/7 sisters were 286.5 ft long and had twin cylinder engines. Gross Registered Tonnage was 1648

The final three paddle steamers were the largest both in terms of length (320 ft) and engine size : triple expansion with cylinders of 51, 75 and 112 inches with a stroke of 78 inches.  This generated 9500 NHP and drove the ships at 19.5 knots. Gross Registered Tonnage was 1947

For more information, go to Ian Boyle's Simplon Post Cards website

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