© David InghamTS Canterbury (II) – Past and Present

TS Canterbury (II)

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine steamer, built and engined by Denny’s of Dumbarton (Yard No 1218 )for the Southern Railway in 1929 as a passenger/mail vessel. 

Technical Data

  • Length: 329.6’(on deck), 341.6’(overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 47.1’
  • Draught: 12.10’(maximum)
  • Tonnage: 2,910 gross (3,071 from 1932), 1,153 net
  • Engines: 4 Parsons steam turbines in two independent sets, each working one of the twin screws.
  • Power: 8,500 shp
  • Speed: 21 knots (service)
  • Capacity: 1,700 (maximum, certificate)
  • Call Sign: GSXR
  • ID Number: 161199
  • Registry: London/United Kingdom


July 9th 1928: Keel was struck.

December 13th 1928: Launched.

March 2nd 1929: Sea trials.

March 15th 1929: Delivered to Southern Railway in Southampton.

April 29th 1929: Arrived at Dover.

May 15th 1929: Entered service between Dover – Calais.

1931 – 1932 (winter): Owing to mechanical problems she had an extensive refit.

May 1932: Re-entered service.

1935: Present at King George V’s Jubilee Naval Review at Spithead.

September 1939: Converted to a troop ship, painted grey overall and with one mast.

© Imperial War Museum

May 10th – 12th 1940: Hook of Holland disembarking Guardsmen.

May 21st 1940: Evacuated troops from Boulogne

May 22nd: Evacuated troops from Calais

© Imperial War Museum

May 25th 1940 – June 4th 1940: Made 5 trips to Dunkirk. Then employed as a “target ship” for the Fleet Air Arm.

June 6th – 16th 1940: Made various voyage from Southampton to Le Havre, Cherbourg and Brest. After a final return to Plymouth rested in the River Dart.

July 2nd 1941: Transferred to Larne- Stranraer. She also served as a target ship for the Fleet Air Arm/R.A.F.

June 1942: Eight month conversion to a troop landing ship at Ardrossan.

February 1943: Conversion completed.

Summer 1942: Became part of “Force J” and Naval personnel were added to her Southern Railway crew.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

June 4th 1944: Embarked 420 troops of the 3rd Canadian Division at Southampton. After taking part in the Normandy invasion she ran for just over 1 year as a military leave ship between Calais and the Kent ports after which she went for refit at Vickers Armstrong on the Tyne.

December 7th 1944: Operated as a trop ship between Dover – Ostend.,

December 23rd 1944: Conducted berthing trials in Calais.

January 1st 1945: Calais re-opened as a personnel port

May 12th 1945: Departed to Southampton for extensive refit.

July 1945: Returned to service in Southern Railway colours.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

October 23rd – 27th 1945: The “Great Gale” trooping sailings cancelled. Three ships were in Calais one in Dover.

October 24th 1945: Sailed “light” to Calais in Force 10 winds.

October 27th 1945: First ship out of Folkestone.

October 28th 1945: First ship out of Calais.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

December 31st 1945: Fog bound in Calais.

February 1946: Refitted at Vickers Armstrong on the Tyne.

April 15th 1946: Returned to the “Golden Arrow”.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

October 1946: Replaced by INVICTA she entered service between Folkestone – Calais where she remained.

January 1947: Six-month spell at Dover.

Stéphane Poulain Collection  Stéphane Poulain Collection

Stéphane Poulain Collection

January 1st 1948: Registered to British Transport Commission, Southern Region.

© Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

Nicolas Levy Collection  Nicolas Levy Collection

Nicolas Levy Collection (both)

1948 (summer): Moved to Folkestone – Boulogne. Became the first cross-Channel steamer to be equipped with Radar.

Stéphane Poulain Collection  Stéphane Poulain Collection

Stéphane Poulain Collection (both)

© David Ingham

© David Ingham

September 27th 1964: Made her final crossing.

Stéphane Poulain Collection  Stéphane Poulain Collection

Stéphane Poulain Collection

October 1964: Withdrawn and laid-up in Dover.


Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

1965: Sold to Belgian ship-breakers Scrappineco.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

July 30th 1965: Towed, by the Belgian tug BURGERMEESTER VANDAMME to Antwerp. She was stripped of her fittings and finally demolished by Brussels Shipbreaking Co at Willebroek.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions found. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Micke Asklander (Faktaomfartyg), Ted Ingham, Nicolas Levy and Stéphane Poulain for their assistance in compiling this feature.

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

1 Comment

  1. brings back memories as I took my first trip abroad on the Canterbury with my mum and dad in the late 50s from Folkestone

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