FerriesMaritime FeaturesPast and PresentSealink

TS Dover (III) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 6510784

TS Tuxedo Royale

ex Sol Express, Earl Siward, Dover (III)

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine steamer, built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Newcastle, (Yard No. 2013) for the British Railways Board in 1965. Engined by the Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co. Ltd 

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 112.47 m (369 ft)(overall), 105.61 m (346.5 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull: 17.40 m (57.1 ft) (extreme)
  • Depth: 10.52 m (34.5 ft) (moulded)
  • Draught: 3.87 m (12.7 ft) (maximum),
  • Tonnage: 3,602 gross, 1,217 net, 818 deadweight
  • Engines: 4 Pametrada steam turbines, double reduction gearing, driving two, screw shafts.
  • Power: 12000 S.H.P./ 8,827 kW
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Capacity: 1,000 passengers, 200 cars.
  • Call Sign: GQQA, H2DE
  • IMO Number: 6510784
  • Official Number: 307813
  • Registry: London/UK 🇬🇧, Limassol/Cyprus 🇨🇾, Middlesbrough/UK 🇬🇧


March 17th 1965:Launched.

June 1965: Delivered to British Railways Board. This was the first ship to appear in the B.R. livery of “monastral” blue hull, with white waterline/ chocolate brown boot-topping; white superstructure, pearl grey masts, ventilators and davits, and red funnel with the white device of two railway lines with crossings between them. At the same time a pale blue house flag was adopted, having the same emblem.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

June 6th 1965: Arrived in Dover.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

September 1965: Operated between Dover – Calais.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

June 13th 1965: A press trip to Boulogne, the vessel on her arrival opening the newly- built car ferry terminal there.

June 14th 1965: Press visit to the Pool of London.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

© Frank Phillips, courtesy of the World Ship Society, East Kent Branch  © Frank Phillips, courtesy of the World Ship Society, East Kent Branch  

© Frank Phillips, courtesy of the World Ship Society, East Kent Branch

© Frank Phillips, courtesy of the World Ship Society, East Kent Branch

June 24th 1965: Entered proper service.


© John Hendy

© John Hendy (Dover, June 1965)

June 28th 1965: Suffered shortage of power, decreasing speed and intense vibration. Withdrawn.

July 5th 1965: Faults rectified and resumed service.

© Ted Ingham  © Ted Ingham  

© Ted Ingham

© David Ingham  © Fotoflite, Courtesy of Michael Woodland  

© David Ingham (Left) and © Fotoflite (Right)

September 1965: Operated between Dover – Calais.

 Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection (Visiting Ferry Dock, Dover for underwater inspection)(Anybody know when and why?)

July 14th 1966 (20.46 hrs): At Dover collided with the “Breakwater” upon entering the harbour prior to berthing at Eastern Docks. Also operated Fishguard – Rosslare

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

February 9th 1967: Carried out ramp tests at the Central Electricity Generating Board ramp at Folkestone. Results were inconclusive because the state of tides caused her car deck to be some 4 ft below the top of the quay.

1967 (Early): Sailed a short time between Newhaven – Dieppe.

© Andy Gilbert

© Andy Gilbert

1967 (Spring): Her restaurant was made self-service.

© A G Jones  © A G Jones

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (all)

October 6th 1967 – January 9th 1968: Operated between Newhaven – Dieppe.

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (October 1967)

October 1968: Operated again between Newhaven – Dieppe.

December 1968 (late): Left Newhaven for Dover, then operated Dover – Boulogne (off turn) service.

Roy Thornton Collection  © Ted Ingham  

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) and © Ted Ingham (Right)

1969 (summer): Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire when the VORTIGERN joined the Sealink service at Dover in July.

May 1969 (last two weeks): Dry-dock at Holyhead.

June 1st 1969: Operated between Preston – Dieppe/Boulogne (?) transporting 200 Ford cars. (NB. First Railway ship, in over 30 years, to enter Preston)

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.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

May 22nd 1970 – September 19th 1970: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire with experimental sailings from Dun Laoghaire (non profit making and ceased).

September 28th 1971 – December 12th 1971: Operated between Newhaven – Dieppe.

October 23rd 1971: Collided with the West Pier and suffered propeller damage. Repaired in Southampton.

November 8th 1971: Reinstated and returned to Dover.

June 1972: Passenger only sailings Folkestone – Boulogne.

September 25th 1972: Operated between Newhaven – Dieppe to relieve VILLANDRY and VALENCAY away on refit.

December 4th 1972: Arrived back off Dover then spent 3 days riding out heavy storms before entering the harbour. Resumed Dover – Calais.

1973: Sealink trading name painted on hulls

© J K Byass

Roy Thornton Collection

June 1974 – 1975 (end): Operated as extra cover for Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire in exchange for the HOLYHEAD I. The change was brought about by the need to provide more vehicle capacity at the port owing to unexpectedly heavy bookings

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (Dover 04/12/1974)

June 14th 1976: At Dover collided with the “Breakwater” upon entering the harbour prior to berthing at Eastern Docks. Also operated Fishguard – Rosslare

October 17th 1976: Returned to Holyhead to cover for damaged AVALON.

J Arthur Dixon postcard

(Postcard, J Arthur Dixon)

1977: Rebuilt at Aalborg Værft, Aalborg, Denmark as a drive through ferry (bow door etc… added). Renamed EARL SIWARD

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

July 1st 1977: Returned to Dover after conversion.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

© Cees de Bijl  © Cees de Bijl  

© Cees de Bijl 

William Macdonald  Roy Thornton Collection

Courtesy of William Macdonald (Left) Roy Thornton Collection (Right)

October 19th 1977: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

January 1st 1979: Registered to Sealink U.K. Ltd. Operated on the Irish sea for a short while.

May 1979 (summer): Covered VORTIGERN (train ferry duties at Dover) at Folkestone and during a French fishermen’s blockade of Channel ports, sailed to Ostend.

  Courtesy of Michael Woodland

© Bob Scott (27/10/1980) (Left) and Courtesy of Michael Woodland (Right)

November 2nd 1980: Stripped a turbine blade.

© Kenneth Whyte © Kenneth Whyte © Kenneth Whyte  © Michael Woodland © Kenneth Whyte

© Kenneth Whyte – © Michael Woodland (where noted)

November 2nd 1980 – December 17th 1980: Rep 

© Bob Scott

© Bob Scott (Wellington Dock, Dover, 29/11/1980)

January 16th 1981: Commenced service between Folkestone – Ostend (cover for VORTIGERN, off service after electrical fire).

© Karel Goutsmit

🆕 © Karel Goutsmit (Folkestone)

January 18th 1981: Off service with boiler problems.

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (Entering Wellington Dock, Dover for repairs 19/01/1981)

January 26th 1981: Resumed service

February 28th 1981 – March 1st 1981: Suffered engine failure and off service for repairs.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

March 6th/7th 1981: At Folkestone, whilst employed Dover – Boulogne/Calais/Ostend services, caught offshore wires around one of her screws taking 36 hours to free.

April 14th 1981: Final crossing between Folkestone – Calais. Thereafter sailed to Newhaven and laid up.

© Kenneth Whyte

© Kenneth Whyte

© John Hendy

© John Hendy (Newhaven)

May 15th 1981: Sent to Holyhead for unexpected refit.

June 6th 1981 – July 9th 1981: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

Courtesy of Pieter Inpyn

Courtesy of Pieter Inpyn (Holyhead 01/06/1981)

July 10th/11th/12th 1981: Operated three round trips between Weymouth – Jersey – Guernsey.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood 

July 1981: Laid up in Newhaven.

November 18th 1981: Sold to Sol Ferries Ltd., Limassol, Cyprus

November 21st 1981: Moved to ramp and loaded second hand commercial vehicles. Expected there for four hours but due to late customs clearance was not able to leave.

© John Hendy

© John Hendy

November 25th 1981: Left Newhaven for Greece.

1981: Having been renamed SOL EXPRESS refitted in Perama, Greece.

1981: Greece – Cyprus – Israel service

1982: Service between Brindisi – Igoumenitsa – Patras

Internet source

1983: Suffered boiler-damage beyond its insured value and laid up in Limassol.

© Steffen Weirauch

Roy Thornton Collection (Laid up @ Limassol May 1983)

1986: Sold to Quadrini Group, Chanson Lines Ltd.

March 6th 1986: Towed, by tug FORTIES SERVICE, from Limassol to Newcastle.

March 10th 1986: Passed through the Dover Strait.

© Fotoflite Ref 43698

© Fotoflite (April 16th 1986)

April 18th 1986: Arrived in Newcastle for conversion to a casino/restaurant/night club and renamed TUXEDO ROYALE.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection (Newcastle July 1986) (Left)(Newcastle, September 1986) (Right)

© Kenneth Whyte

© Kenneth Whyte

© Steven Brown  © Steven Brown  

© Stephen Brown

April 9th 2006: The End? “Departure of TUXEDO ROYALE (Middlesbrough Dock for Hull) seems to have been put back at present to 13.30 on Tuesday, 11 April.”

April 20th 2006: Left Middlesbrough Dock for Graythorpe Basin

2008: Moored at Able’s yard Hartlepool.

January 16th 2009: “Moved from Able UK to berth on Tees by Transporter bridge this morning. Seen with Tees Tugs: SVITZER SUN, FIERY CROSS and ORMESBY CROSS

May 5th 2011: Reportedly sinking at her moorings.

© Yevgeniy B  © Yevgeniy B  

© Yevgeniy B

May 31st 2017: Fire breaks out on the bridge of the vessel causing extensive damage to the forward section of the vessels accommodation.

“Five fire engines are battling a huge blaze on the Tuxedo Royale ship docked on the River Tees in Middlehaven. Thick black smoke is billowing across the river, and obscuring the view of the Transporter Bridge from the Riverside Stadium and the A66 as it comes into Middlesbrough town centre.”

Source: Chronicle Live


© Stephen Brown

© Stephen Brown

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: Stephen Brown, Fotoflite, Andy Gilbert, Karel Goutsmit, John Hendy, Pieter Inpyn, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, William Macdonald, Bob Scott, The World Ship Society (East Kent Branch), Yevgeniy B, Frank Phillips, Kenneth Whyte, Michael Woodland and Andreas Wörteler.

Special thanks go to Ted Ingham.

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


  1. Many thanks for a very interesting website. With regards to Earl Siward, and the date of her transfer to Sol Ferries, I came across the channel with her (Calais Maritime to Folkestone Harbour) on Saturday 5th January 1982 and she was still called Earl Siward according to my notebook.


    Mark Lamb

      1. Thanks John. I’m not a shipping enthusiast (I’m a railway enthusiast), but kept a note of which ships I’d been on. My notebook shows I went out to the continent on MV Horsa on Monday 17th December 1981 (16.10 ex-Folkestone – Calais) and back on MV Earl Siward (11.50 ex-Calais – Folkestone) on Saturday 5th January 1982. There’s an error there inasmuch as Earl Siward was a turbine ship, not a MV. As I don’t know where I’d have got the name Earl Siward from, and appear to have made an error, can you suggest what other ships would have been on cross-channel duties in January 1982 that I got confused with?

  2. John,

    My apologies. I’ve double checked my notebooks, and I find I was two years out. I went out on Horsa on 17th December 1979, and came back on Earl Siward on 5th January 1980. I’m now happy in my mind that I managed to catch a steamship, so thanks for challenging my dates!


    Mark Lamb

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