General Steam Navigation CompanyPast and Present

Mv Queen of the Channel (II) – Past and Present

Mv Leto

ex Oia, Queen of the Channel (II)

Courtesy of Ted Ingham

Courtesy of Ted Ingham

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1949 by Wm Denny & Bros Ltd., Dumbarton (Yard No 1415) as a passenger ferry

Technical Data

  • Length: 82.94 m (overall) 78.64 m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 13.42 m
  • Depth: 3.51 m
  • Draught: 2.388 m
  • Tonnage: 1472 – 1594 gross/603 – 818 net/1080 deadweight
  • Engines: 2 x Oil SA 8-cylinder Sulzer diesels
  • Power: 2207 kW/3000 bhp
  • Speed: 18 knots
  • Capacity: 1,500 passengers
  • Call Sign: GFMR, SYUB
  • IMO Number: 528805
  • Official Number: 183023 (LR 1967 -68)
  • Port of Registry: London/United Kingdom, Piraeus/Greece


February 25th 1949: Launched.

May 25th 1949: Completed. Similar to ROYAL SOVEREIGN (IV), “although had a larger forward observation saloon.”.

May 1949: Delivered to General Steam Navigation Co, Ltd, London, England as the ‘Queen of the Channel‘. “Sailed from Ramsgate in her first season and took trips to the French coast (non landing) or the Kent coast calling at Dover then cruising to off Dungeness. She later took on the London to Clacton service from Tower Pier, calling at Southend en route.

© Ken Smith

© Ken Smith

Courtesy of Ted Ingham  Courtesy of Ted Ingham

Courtesy of Ted Ingham

Courtesy of Ted Ingham (all)

Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection

1966 (end): Laid up at Rochester, on the River Medway, Kent (UK).

Courtesy of Ted Ingham

Courtesy of Ted Ingham.

© A G Jones

© A G Jones

1968: Sold to Aghia Papanti Cia, Mar, S.A. Piraeus, Greece and renamed OIA. Registered Manager; Kriton Steamship Co., Ltd.

Courtesy of Chris Howell  Courtesy of Chris Howell

Courtesy of Chris Howell (both)

1976: Sold to George Kousouniades Shipping, Piraeus, Greece and renamed LETO.

August 1983: Arrived Leodias Kladias Ltd, Eleusis, Greece for scrapping.

March 29th 1984: Scrapping commenced.

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: Chris Howell, Ted Ingham, A G Jones and Ken Smith for their assistance in producing this feature.

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


  1. Did a day trip on the Queen in the early 60’s, first time ever on a ship, liked it so much I ended up working on the ferries from Dover/Folkestone for 17 years.

  2. I saw the vessel as Leto laid up in elausis Bay, Perama, Greece about 1979, she was tied up along with about another 6 vessels swinging in the Bay, a very sad sight. I was interested to see her as never did while she was based in the UK.

  3. For a period of just over three years, between 1960 – 1963, I worked within the confines of British Railways goods yard in Rochester and during the winter months, was able to view this magnificent vessel on an almost daily basis when it was moored in the inlet adjacent to the yard of Robert Adllards builders merchants. It was especially great to see her each Spring after she had been spruced up and prepared for the new seasons revenue earning services. I had always promised myself that I would one day get to experience life afloat on her but it never came to pass as I moved with my job to Littlehampton in June 1963.

    My sincere thanks to all those that have contributed the pictures that have enabled me to take a nostalgic look back into the past.

      1. I am writing a book for a publisher on the three little liners Royal Daffodil, Royal Sovereign and Queen of the Channel. My late father was an Engineering Officer on two of the ships and I sailed on them many times. I am looking for any interesting stories from anyone who sailed on day trips on the ships or was also a crew member.

        1. Hi i went to school in Hertford Herts Abel Smith Junior School.
          Pupils aged 11 were offered a day trip (if you could pay)
          In 1955 we went on the Queen Of The Channel leaving from Tower Pier stopping at Southend pier Then terminating at Margate Pier. I remember spending the day in Margate’s Dreamland mainly on the ‘Steel Stellar’ switchback ride it was great.
          Not much spare cash in our family like many others so no holidays available except camping with the Sea Scouts
          Brian Bethell

        2. I was a boy rating on the Queen of the Channel, 1961 we sailed from Ramsgate and did day cruises to France, I worked in the tea bar, Then got a job in the ” Tuck shop” selling ice cream and chocolate. I remember a lot of the crew were Borstal boy’s, and I used to run credit, and if they did not pay at the end of the week I had a big A.B. threaten them . I did so well with the takings i was offered deep sea ships from London the first being the Laverock G.S.N.C. From then i worked many company’s ships From passenger to tankers to cargo ships. In 1974 with the decline of British ships i moved to Canada and worked on the west coast. Am now retired and living in Vancouver at 77 years of age. Barry Griffin…

  4. My dad, Len Gregory was a merchant seaman and worked on the Queen of the Channel 1956 and 1957. While in Ramsgate he met my mum, Pat Murphy and the rest, as they say, is history! They have been married for 62 years, have 5 children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great grand children. Dad’s memory isn’t so great these days but he can recall vividly his time on the Queen of the Channel. It’s been lovely to read about the ship and what happened to her and to see the photos. Thank you. By the way, I sailed on her August 1957 aged 3 weeks.

  5. In the mid 60`s I was taken by my parents for a day trip to Calais from Clacton pier, my first trip on a boat. I was aged about 6 or 7. What I do remember is the journey back as we encountered a force 8 storm. There was talk that the Queen of the Channel would have to go into Ramsgate but the storm eased a little and we carried on albeit slower. Lots of people including me we being very ill. However there were two ladies in the saloon who were eating oranges, they were not ill surprisingly. One of these ladies I believed worked at Woolworths and was called Tiger in my memory is correct.
    At least now I know what happened to the ship. Happy memories, thank you.

  6. When I was a young boy I played the cornet in the Margate silver band.We did the Calais trip many from Margate.We sometimes played a concert on the boat going over.When we arrived In Calais we then played a concert in the park opposite the town hall.On one trip the sea was very rough to get into Calais harbour the ship had to reverse into the port in those days.The Ship didn’t have stabilisers and was nearly flat bottomed.We thought we we all going to drown.Happy days.

  7. I remember going on it with my parents in the early sixties,
    I’m sure I they have a very good model of it in the maritime museum in Greenwich.

  8. I have a coloured postcard of a painting by J Nicholson of MV Queen of the Channel. The card is date stamped Clacton-on-Sea 11 July 1953, also stamped At Sea MV Queen of the Channel. It was sent by my grandfather to my father. He says that it is a “Grand Boat and a lovely day up till now”. He also says “This card is posted from ship”.

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