© Alex Duncan, Roy Thornton CollectionDHB Lady Brassey – Past and Present

DHB Lady Brassey

ex HMS Lady Brassey, Lady Brassey

© Alex Duncan, Roy Thornton Collection

© Alex Duncan, Roy Thornton Collection

Steam twin screw salvage steamer built by J P Rennoldson & Co, South Shields (Yard No 285) in 1913 for Dover Harbour Board. 

Technical Data

  • Length: 39.62m (130.1 ft)
  • Breadth of hull: 8.56m (28.1 ft)
  • Depth: 4.21m (13.8 ft)
  • Tonnage: 362 gross/348 net/148 deadweight
  • Engines: 2 x 2-cylinder J P Rennoldson comp
  • Power: 235 nhp
  • Winches: 5BH
  • Speed: 12 knots
  • Code/Call Sign: GQWY
  • ID Number: 114909
  • Registry: Dover
  • Sister-ships: LADY CRUNDALL

Selected History

July 24th 1913: Launched.

October 1913: Completed and delivered to Dover Harbour Board.

February 7th 1916: Assisted PEEL CASTLE when a fire broke out in the steward’s storeroom.

February 27th 1916: Went to assistance of S.S. MALOJA which had struck a mine two nautical miles off Dover. Eventually sank, 132 dead.



August 29th 1917: Went to assistance of barque CUPICA, anchored near buoy 13 and, wanting tow clearance of mines.



September 16th 1918: Assisted HMS GLATTON.

February 2nd 1920: Assisted in refloating the S.S. BERRIMA.



1934: Accompanied H. E. Temme as he swam the Channel, South Foreland to Cap Blanc Nez.

December 20th 1939: Commissioned as HMS LADY BRASSEY operating as a “Rescue Tug”

Courtesy of Andy Gilbert

Courtesy of Andy Gilbert

March 4th 1940: Went to assistance of tanker CHARLES T. MEYER which had stuck a floating mine.

April 16th 1940: Panamanian steamer ALBA ran aground on the Goodwins, 3½ miles 55° from Deal Coast Guard Station. Tug LADY BRASSEY and salvage vessel DAPPER sailed from Dover to assist. After jettisoning cargo and the efforts of seven tugs, she was finally refloated at 1830/17th, brought to the Downs and anchored.

May 28th 1940: Went to the assistance of the Examination Vessel OCEAN REWARD which had been reported in collision with a Hospital Ship off the Southern Breakwater.

June 1st 1940: Assisted PRAGUE (London and North Eastern Railway passenger ship) to be beached off Deal.

June 24th 1944: Assisted EMPIRE LOUGH, collier, which had been intercepted by German E-boats in the English Channel and set on fire. Beached near Folkestone but a total loss.

January 31st 1946: Together with tug PERSIA made unsuccessful attempt to tow S.S. LURAY VICTORY off the Goodwin Sands.

June 29th 1946: Returned to the Dover Harbour Board.

 Roy Thornton Collection   Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

February 24th 1951: During a gale collided with Belgian Marine Administration’s PRINCE PHILIPPE II. The Belgian ship being flung against the tug while the latter was berthed against the Prince of Wales Pier.

Courtesy of  Dover Marina.com

Courtesy of Dover Marina.com

1957-1958: She and her smaller ‘workmate’ LADY DUNCANNON were replaced in by two twin screw diesel-engined tugs DILIGENT and DOMINANT

November 28th 1958: Broken up by NV Machinehandel & Scheepssloperij, Nieuw Lekkerkerk.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Andy Gilbert and Nigel Scutt for their assistance in producing this feature.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)


  1. According to my father, she used to run trips out to sea now and again with a few passengers to open the bar and sell drinks duty free.

  2. When searching family history (George William Blackmore), I came across a ‘mentioned in despatches’ whilst he was serving on the lady Brassey. The citation was published in May 1941 – ‘for good services when an enemy aircraft was destroyed’; do you have any further information about this incident?

      1. Thank you – worth a try!
        Thank you for the information that you published above – really interesting and useful.

      2. Dear Nigel,
        You may have seen from the messages, below, that we may have made some interesting connections!
        Is there a way for you to allow access to my email address for Richard Marsh, so that we can go into a little more detail?
        Thank you!

    1. Hi Jane
      George William Blackmore was my Granddad. I have the original “mentioned in dispatches” letter from the war office; in fact I was just looking at it last weekend, when tidying up some papers. I also have a letter of congratulation from Dover Harbour Board. What’s even more exciting, is I have a set of binoculars from 1919, presented to Granddad by the US President, for the part he played in rescuing the crew of USS Piave when it sunk on the Goodwin Sands.

      1. My goodness; that’s brilliant! What a treasure trove of artefacts; it is lovely to find that these things survive and that the stories are kept alive.
        I came to this forum whilst looking through Armed Forces Records but with little information beyond names and birth dates.
        So, I’m not sure whether we are related to the same parts of the Blackmore family or not, I’m afraid – George and William seem to have been popular Blackmore names at that time!
        I’ll message the forum administrator and see if there is a way for me to pass my mail address on to you, so that we can exchange a bit more information, if you are happy to do so?
        Basically, the bit of my family tracks back: Geoffrey Frank Blackmore (b. 1930), Frank Blackmore (b. 1905) (his brother was a George William (b. 1896)), George Blackmore (b. 1862), Stephen Blackmore (b.1831). I don’t think my great uncle (George William) had any children, although I may be very wrong, but I wonder if we track back via Stephen Blackmore’s other son, William (b. 1865) and his son Albert (b.1897) – it would be intriguing to know a little more!!
        Many thanks for your message – the jigsaw puzzle of tracing family history is fascinating!

  3. My father was in the crew in1918, aged 18, he was a WTO(?). Didn’t see much action but was in attendance at one of the Zeebrugge raids.

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