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Stranraer - Larne 
The shortest route from the British mainland to the island of Ireland was from the south-western point of Galloway in Scotland to the northern Irish coast. In 1865, the Caledonian Railway took over the operation of the privately-owned railway line to Stranraer and Portpatrick which had previously been operated in association with the Glasgow & Southwestern Railway. The Caledonian placed two small paddle steamers on a Stranraer to Larne service in December 1865 but the service was withdrawn after three years and an attempt by Irish interests to replace it lasted less than a year. An independent operator tried to establish a service between Portpatrick and Larne in August of 1871 but lasted twelve days with its steamer Aber sinking in a collision. 

In 1872, the Larne and Stranraer Steamboat Company was formed in association with the railway companies and placed Princess Louise on a service when agreement was reached with the Royal Mail that the Portpatrick Railway could carry mails.

In 1885, the route to Ireland was well established under the operation of the Caledonian Railway and the London & North Western Railway, its partner for services to the south but the concession on the route was ending. With the Glasgow & South Western Railway (in association withthe Midland Railway) interested in taking over the route, it was agreed that both Scottish railway companies and their London-based partners would form a joint company, buying out t
he shareholders of the two local companies and operating this and the associated steamer service as the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railways Joint Committee.

The new ownership placed new tonnage on the route in 1890 and 1892. Paddle steamer operation ended in 1910 although the route from Stranraer (and later Portpatrick) to Larne was well established and served by turbine steamers and later by car ferries under British Railways, Sealink and its successor guises



Above : Princess May was the final paddle steamer built for the crossing to Larne


Paddle Steamers for the Stranraer - Larne service.

Princess Louise (1872-1890)
Princess Beatrice (1875-1904)
Princess Victoria (1890-1910)
Princess May (1892-1910)


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Vessel Details:

Princess Louise
Built in 1872 by Tod & McGregor, Glasgow for the Larne & Stranraer Steamboat Co. of Belfast
Twin Cylinder engine by Tod & McGregor : 54 x 60 in
497 GRT
211 x 24 ft
Sold in 1890 to David MacBrayne Ltd of Scotland, renamed Islay and put into service in the western Isles
Wrecking in 1902 when approaching Port Ellen, Islay

Princess Beatrice
Built in 1875 by Harland & Wolff, Belfast
for the Larne & Stranraer Steamboat Co. of Belfast
Twin Cylinder engine by D Rowan
556 GRT
235 x 24 ft
Scrapped 1904 at Dumbarton

Princess Victoria
Built in 1890 by Wm Denny & Bros, Dumbarton for the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railways Joint Committee, Stranraer
Compound Diagonal engine by Denny & Co : 51 and 90 x 66 in
1096 GRT
280.5 x 35.6 ft
1910 : broken up at Blackwall, London

Princess May
Built in 1892 by Wm Denny & Bros, Dumbarton for the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Railways Joint Committee, Stranraer
Compound Diagonal engine by Denny & Co : 51 and 90 x 66 in
1096 GRT
280.5 x 35.6 ft

Sold in 1910 to private manager. Used by the Admiralty as an accommodation ship from 1916 until 1920
1921 : broken up at Garston


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