MV Royal Daffodil
Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1939 by William Denny Brothers, Dumbarton (Yard No.1330), for General Steam Navigation Co Ltd
- Length: 91.31 m (overall) m (between perpendiculars)
- Breadth: 15.27 m
- Depth: 3.02 m
- Draught: 2.71 m
- Tonnage: 2060 gross/938 net/1046 deadweight
- Engines: 2 x SCSA Sulzer diesel engines (Wm Denny & Bros Ltd, Dumbarton)
- Power: 627 kW/841 HP
- Speed: 21 knots (trial) 18 knots (service)
- Capacity: 2,385 passengers (one class)(Kent & Essex coast tours), 1,392 (cross Channel Tilbury/Gravesend/Southend/Margate – Calais/ Boulogne/Ostend)
- Call Sign: GSGL
- IMO Number: 5530130
- Official Number: 167210
- Port of Registry: London/UK
January 24th 1939: Launched.
May 1939: Completed.
May 27th 1939: Entered service for General Steam Navigation Co Ltd. In her inaugural season was used for continental trips from Tower Pier to Ostend.
September 1st 1939: Evacuated London school children from London to Norfolk, disembarking them at Lowestoft. After this she served as a troopship between Dover and Southampton and France.
1940: At Dunkirk.
The ship has the distinction of having evacuated from Dunkirk more men than any other vessel – 7,461:
May 28th 1940: Landed 842 at Dover
May 29th 1940: 1,703 at Margate
May 30th 1940: 1,599 at Dover
June 1st 1940: 1,817 at Dover
June 2nd June 1940: 1,500 at Margate
June 2nd 1940: A bomb went right through her hull and exploded outside. The hole was patched up by mattresses. She anchored off Ramsgate and was assisted by the salvage vessel FORDE from Deal. The tugs LADY BRASSEY (Dover Harbour Board) and DORIA towed her to Dover where she was beached. If the weather had been unkind she might have sunk.
June 3rd 1940: Departed Dover bound for repairs in London Docks.
September 1940 – January 1944: Served as a troopship, Stranraer – Larne.
February 22nd 1943: First vessel to use an Army built additional berth at Larne (later called the Continental Berth).
January 3rd 1944 – December 24th 1944: Chartered to London Midland & Scottish Railway for the mail run Stranraer – Larne (during which time she carried only passengers, mail and luggage without the necessary livestock or general cargo).
July 1944: Off service for overhaul.
December 24th 1944: Final sailing as mail vessel.
January 1945 – March 1945: Troopship, Larne
March 1945: Transferred south, where she served as a leave ship between Calais and Dover/ Dieppe and Newhaven.
Courtesy of John Hendy
April 9th 1945: Arrived at Dover from Portsmouth.
April 11th 1945: Commenced sailings to Calais (sometimes being diverted to Ostend)
Courtesy of John Hendy
January 1947: Returned to her owners and went to Denny’s yard at Dumbarton for extensive refit.
1947: Major re-conversion at Denny’s, completed at the New Medway Steam Packet Co,’s yard at Acorn Wharf on the River Medway at Rochester.
Courtesy of John Hendy
1947: Undertook non stop trips to France from Tilbury and Gravesend, calling at Southend and Deal in later years.
1955 (after): Made “no passport” trips to France.
© Ken Smith
1957 -1963: The General Steam Navigation held “Rock Across the Channel” events between 1957 and 1963. They included a 1962 crossing with Gene Vincent and in 1963 with Jerry Lee Lewis backed by the Outlaws, featuring a young Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) and Chas Hodges (of Chas and Dave fame).
Courtesy of John Hendy (03/08/1964)
© Ted Ingham (Margate, during her final season)
1966: At the start of the Seamen’s Strike she remained at Calais.
May 27th 1966: Moved to Gravesend.
1966 (season): Included evening cruises from Tower Pier, Tower Pier to Margate and Gravesend to Calais. The ship was commissioned soon after Easter for a series of charters (over a period of five weeks) carrying French schoolchildren from Calais to Tower Pier, returning from Margate to Calais.
July 2nd 1966: Opened the companies Gravesend – Calais sailings, also giving a Thursday French Coast Cruise.
December 1966: The General Steam Navigation decided they could no longer continue their Thames services, withdrawn and advertised for sale.
1967: Sailed from the South West India Docks in London under her own power for breaking up in Ghent.
February 1st 1967: To Van Heyghen Freres at Ghent for scrapping.
Courtesy of John Hendy (A cutting from the Daily Telegraph dated 2nd February 1967. The ship is pictured in the Terneuzen-Ghent Canal heading for the breakers’ yard.)
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: Ted Ingham and Ken Smith for their assistance in producing this feature.
Special thanks to John Hendy.