British Railways Board (BRB)British Transport Commission (BTC)FerriesPast and PresentSealink

MV Essex Ferry (II) – Past and Present

MV Essex Ferry

Roy Thornton Collection

Essex Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1957 at John Brown & Co., (Clydebank) Ltd (Yard No 694) for British Railways as a passenger and train ferry

Technical Data

  • Length: 121.9m (overall), 116.44m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of hull: 18.7m (extreme)
  • Depth: 5.79 m
  • Draught: 3.677m (summer)
  • Tonnage: 3,089 – 3,242 gross/1,477 – 1,502 net/1988 – 1957t deadweight
  • Engines: Two 6-cylinder Sulzer Oil 2CA (John Brown & Co (Clydebank)) Ltd single-acting diesels
  • Power: 1999 KW/2680bhp
  • Speed: 12.25 knots @ 177 r.p.m./ 14.2 knots @ 202 r.p.m
  • Capacity: Capacity – 12 passengers, 38 international railway wagons (Fitted with 2 overhead travelling electric hoists for lifting containers)
  • Call Sign: MXBT
  • IMO Number: 510665
  • Official Number: 185600
  • Registry: Harwich/UK
  • Sister Ships: Norfolk Ferry, Suffolk Ferry


October 26th 1956: Launched at a cost of £739,521.

January 13th 1957: Delivered to British Transport Commission, Southern Region, Harwich, England.

January 1957: Introduced between Harwich – Zeebrügge.

© Ken Smith

© Ken Smith

May 23rd 1972: Short period between Holyhead – Dublin.

1973: Stern modified to fit Dunkerque rail link span.

© Derek Sands

© Derek Sands

January 1st 1979: To Sealink UK, Ltd.

© Ted Ingham  © Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

© Fotoflite  © Brian Fisher

© Fotoflite (left) and © Brian Fisher (right)

June 12th 1979: Modified to fit the Train Ferry Berth at Dover.

June 1979: Relieved at Dover.

© A G Jones

© A G Jones

January 6th /7th 1982: Last trip Dunkerque – Harwich.

© Tony Garner  © Brian Fisher

© Tony Garner (left) and © Brian Fisher (right)

1982: Laid up in the River Blackwater, Essex.

April 27th 1983: Towed from Harwich to Rainham, Kent.

© Ken Larwood   © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (both)

April 28th 1983: Sold to Aston Dean Ltd., London for £37,000.

April 29th 1983: Arrived at Medway Secondary Metals for scrapping.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

June 10th 1983: Rebuilt as a pontoon and renamed ESSEX FERRY PONTON. Towed by the tug SUN LONDON from Rainham to Haugesund, Norway.

1983: Used as a support pontoon for the North Sea oil rig ALEXANDER KIELLAND.

1983: Broken up.

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: Brian Fisher, Tony Garner, Ted Ingham, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Derek Sands, Ken Smith and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.

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


  1. I was extremely pleased to find the photos by Ken Larwood of Bloors Wharf, in Rainham, Kent, when Medway Secondary Metals was operational. Although I and many others remember watching shipbreaking and seeing the jumbled heap of scrap metal, I have been trying in vain to trace any pictures. I’m currently trying to write a brief history of Bloors Wharf from the 16th century onwards, with the idea that there ought to be some record kept at the Visitor Centre at the Riverside Country Park which now includes the old wharf.

    Would Mr Larwood allow one or more of his photos to be reproduced, please?

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