TS Holyhead Ferry I – Past and Present

TS Earl Leofric

ex Holyhead Ferry I

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine steamer, built and engined by Hawthorn, Leslie, Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1965 (Yard No. 757) for the British Railways Board (London Midland Region) Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire service

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 112.47m (369 ft) (overall), 105.61 m (346.5 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull: – 17.43 m (57.2 ft) (extreme)
  • Depth: 10.52 m (34.5 ft) (moulded)
  • Draught: 3.03 m (12.9 ft) (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,879 gross, 1,461 net, 870 deadweight
  • Engines: 2 Hawthorn Leslie steam turbines, double-reduction gearing, connected to  two screw shafts.
  • Power: 12000 S.H.P.
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Capacity: 1,000 passengers, 150 cars (1965), 725 passengers,  205 cars (1976)
  • Crew: 75 (1965 for Short International Voyages)
  • Call Sign: GRJH (1965 – )
  • IMO Number: 6508470 Official Number: 307845
  • Registry: London


Roy Thornton Collection

Builders Model

February 17th 1965: Launched.

Sealink Heritage  Sealink Heritage

Sealink Heritage  Sealink Heritage

Sealink Heritage

Sealink Heritage

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Courtesy of Michael Woodland

Courtesy of Michael Woodland

Roy Thornton Collection  bar0102

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Roy Thornton Collection (all as noted) Courtesy of Jim Ashby (as noted)

Roy Thornton Collection  (Trials)  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Roy Thornton Collection  (Trials)(Left) Courtesy of Jim Ashby (Trials) (Right)

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

July 1965: Delivered to London Midland Region, London, England.

July 19th 1965: Commenced service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire. February 14th 1966 – March 26th 1966: Operated between Stranraer – Larne.

March 27th 1966 – January 8th 1967: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

© William MacDonald

© William MacDonald

January 9th 1967 – January 20th 1967: Operated between Stranraer – Larne.

Roy Thornton Collection  bar0036

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

January 21st 1967: Commenced service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

November 1969: It was announced that British Rail’s Shipping and International Services Division (SISD) had adopted the new brand name Sealink and as a consequence all vessels would, in the future, be painted in the new house colours.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

June 27th 1970 – September 19th 1970: In addition to her Holyhead sailings operated between Heysham – Dun Laoghaire.

© William MacDonald

© William MacDonald (Heysham, passing ST DAVID)

December 1972: Continued to maintain service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

1973: Sealink trading name painted on hulls

March 2nd 1973: Relieved Weymouth – Channel Islands.

January – February 1973: Service at Dover.

May 1973: Commenced service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

© A G Jones

08/07/1973 in Boulogne © A G Jones

December 1973: Service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire. Suffered a choked oil pipe on her first trip and spent 4 hours off the Irish coast.

March 18th 1974 – April 11th 1974: Operated between Stranraer – Larne.

April 1974: Service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

June 1974: DOVER exchanged routes with the HOLYHEAD I. The change was brought about by the need to provide more vehicle capacity at the port owing to unexpectedly heavy bookings. This was the second season in succession that this had happened, for the two ships were originally destined for their “own” routes throughout the 1974 season.

November 28th 1974 – December 19th 1974: Operated between Stranraer – Larne.

March 3rd 1975: Took the first sailing of the revised commercial vehicle ferry which had been seasonal and now became one round trip daily (not Sundays) all year round.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

January 1976 – September 1976: Rebuilt at Swan Hunter Ship-repairers Tyne Ltd.

September 1976: Renamed EARL LEOFRIC.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

© Cees de Bijl  © Cees de Bijl

© Cees de Bijl (Roy Thornton Collection)

September 23rd 1976: Arrived at Dover for berthing trials and, three days later took over from the chartered RMT car ferry ARTEVELDE on the first day of the winter timetable.

© Ken Larwood  © Kenneth Whyte

© Ken Larwood (left) and © Kenneth Whyte (right)

September 25th 1976: Commenced service between Dover – Boulogne.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

October 14th 1976: Took 20 hours on a Boulogne-Dover passage in the worst Channel gales of the year.

© Kevin Hoggett

New” © Kevin Hoggett

December 27th 1977 – January 18th 1978: Operated between Newhaven – Dieppe.

January 1978: Returned to Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

February 21st 1978: Collided with St Michael’s pier in Dun Laoghaire and holed her bow visor. Reduced to a stern loader.

March 1978: Left Holyhead and returned to Dover.

© Ian Scott Taylor  © Ian Scott Taylor

© Ian Scott Taylor (Leaving Holyhead March 1978)

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

February 26th 1979: On a journey from Calais to Folkestone, collided with a breakwater.

September 29th 1979 – October 1st 1979: Sailed to Rouen for her overhaul as there was no dock available at Dunkirk

October 1st 1979: Returned to Dover.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Dover 01/10/1979)

Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection , Thanks to Jane Spall (Dover 21/05/1980)(Right)

October 27th 1980: Final day in service between Dover – Calais. Laid up in Newhaven.

November 9th 1980 – December 17th 1980: Operated between Dover – Calais.

December 1980: Laid up in Newhaven.

© Andrew Gilbert  © John Hendy

Laid-up @ Newhaven 08/03/1981 © Andrew Gilbert (left) and laid up in Newhaven together with Earl Siward © John Hendy (right)

May 1981: Sold to Desguaces Avilés, San Esteban de Pravia, Spain for breaking.

May 30th 1981: Towed to Desguaces Aviles, San Esteban de Pravia, Spain by tug ADELANTADO for breaking.

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: Andrew Gilbert, John Hendy, Kevin Hoggett, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, William MacDonald, Ian Scott Taylor, Sealink Heritage, Simonwp, Kenneth Whyte, Michael Woodland and Andreas Wörteler.

Special thanks go to Jim Ashby and Jane Spall.

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

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