British Railways Board (BRB)British Transport Commission (BTC)Past and Present

MV Isle of Ely – Past and Present

MV Spice Island Girl

Ex Spice Island, Isle of Ely

Steel single screw motor vessel, built in 1958 by Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co., Ltd (Yard No. 512), for the British Transport Commission

Technical Data

  • Length:¬†73.72 m (overall) 68.89 m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 11.43¬†m
  • Depth: 7.01¬†m
  • Draught: 4.331¬†m
  • Tonnage:¬†866.46 – 1,059 – 1,492 -1,451 gross/277.99 – 767 – 794 net/935 – 929 – 944 deadweight
  • Engines:¬†8 – cylinder, type 8VOXM single acting 4 stroke Ruston & Hornsby, Lincoln diesel
  • Power: 1604 kW/2150 BHP
  • Speed:¬†15.45 knots (max), 13.5 knots (economical)
  • Capacity:¬†89,171 cu ft bale, 42 standard type containers or equivalent general cargo/150 cellular containers
  • Call Sign:¬†GBHW, HOXK
  • IMO Number:¬†5164980
  • Official Number: 187876
  • Port of Registry:¬†Harwich/UK, Panama
  • Sister-Ship: Colchester (III)


July 18th 1958: Launched. (Specifically designed to carry full loads of rail containers or general cargo, or alternatively part loads of each)

October 1958: Completed and based at Harwich.



October 27th 1958: Maiden voyage (Harwich – Antwerp) replacing SHERINGHAM


1963: Ownership transferred to British Railways Board

© Bob Scott

© Bob Scott

May РJune 1968: Converted by Redhead’s to a container-ship.

June 1968: Harwich – Rotterdam, the service to Antwerp being terminated at the end of May.

October 24th 1969: Transferred to Holyhead – Dublin.

January 31st 1972: Transferred to Heysham – Belfast.

July 11th 1973: Last trip Heysham – Belfast.

July 11th 1973 – August 5th 1973: Laid up.

July 6th 1972: First sailing of three sailing Southampton – Channel Islands

August 20th 1973: Transferred to Fishguard – Waterford.

November 8th 1975: Last trip Fishguard – Waterford.

November 12th 1975: Transferred to Harwich – Dunkirk.

December 8th/9th/10th 1975: Sailed Harwich to Barrow for lay-up.

1978: Reverted to a cargo ship.

March 11th 1978: Sold to Pounds Marine Shipping Ltd for £70,000 and renamed SPICE ISLAND

1978: Sold to Desio Shipping Co

1979: Sold to Grail Shipping Co and renamed SPICE ISLAND GIRL. She was holed at this time and served with an Admiralty writ as ‚Äúunsafe‚ÄĚ

Courtesy of PWR

Courtesy of PWR

1980: Sold to Annandale Trading & Finance Inc.

March 29th 1982: Laid up at Portsmouth.

September 1984: Sold for scrap.

December 31st 1984: Broken up at J. Bakker & Zoon, Bruges

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: “PWR”, Bob Scott and Andreas W√∂rteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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

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