Past and PresentSouth Eastern and Chatham Railway (SE&CR)

TS Riviera – Past and Present

TS Lairds Isle

Ex HMS Lairds Isle, Lairds Isle, Riviera

Triple screw turbine steamer, built in 1911 by Denny’s of Dumbarton (Yard number 937) for the South Eastern and Chatham Railway English Channel services.

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: 98.45m (overall) 96.32m (registered)
    Breadth of hull: 12.5m
    Depth: 5.03m
    Draught: 4.34m
    Tonnage: 1,674 gross/1203 under deck/649 net
    Engines: 3 compound direct drive steam turbines, one of high pressure driving the centre screw (ahead only), and two of low pressure, driving the side screws, (the latter fitted also for astern sailing). All supplied by Parson’s patent Marine Turbine Company Ltd., of Wallsend-on-Tyne.
    Boilers: Six Babcock & Wilcox w/t 172lb/sq in
    Power: 13,800 shp/10,300kW
    Speed: 20.5 knots (22.164 knots trial)
    Berths: 105 1st, 45 2nd
    Crew: 56/197 + 53 aviation crew (1918)
    Call Sign: HSVG, GPBR
    Lloyds Register Number (1934 -1935): 7908
    Official Number: 132546
    Registry: London, Glasgow
    Sister ship: Engadine


June 10th 1910: Ordered by South Eastern and Chatham Railway as a repeat of EMPRESS (III) and VICTORIA (III), but with some alterations and ½ knot more speed. The building of this vessel was to be done in a covered shed, and to be kept secret as long as possible. This finally produced ENGADINE.

April 1st 1911: Launched. The naming ceremony was performed by Miss Bonsor , daughter of Mr and Mrs Cosmo Bonsor , London , who were also present . Final cost £85,106. Hull cost £47,565, machinery £35872. Profit to Denny and Co £717, to W Denny Bros £952. Price per ton £7.00. A new feature was the provision for the carriage of motor cars.


May 30th 1911: Trials, reaching 23.3 knots on the measured mile.

May 31st 1911: Capt. Charles Hancock and the new crew left Dover to take the vessel over from the builders. The new turbine would take the Directors of the S.E. and C. Railway to witness the review at Spithead.

June 7th 1911: Delivered at Dumbarton.

June 8th 1911: Left Denny’s yard for Dover.

June 9th 1911: Arrived at Dover from the Clyde. “Although generally after the type the older boats, there are many improvements that will tend towards greater handiness. The chief alteration is that the deck-house aft has been done away with. The after deck is quite clear, and the entrance to the second class cabin is the end of the deck cabins amidship. The bulwark of the upper deck opposite the deck-house is all closed in instead of open rails. The vessel is not so high out of the water, and has slightly more beam. It is a knot faster, and the steam is generated in water tube boilers —a new departure. A motor boat was brought round to Dover in the steamer.”.

June 9th 1911: Maiden voyage to Calais. Her entry onto service saw the departure of the last of the paddle steamers.

June 24th 1911/June 25th 1911: Went to Calais where several of the representatives of the Nord Railway were embarked. At banquet on board the vessel the toast of the Republique Francaise was proposed by Mr. Cosmo Bonsor, and the toast of King George by Mr. H. Henon, the guest of the Chamber of Commerce. She then called at Newhaven, and then went on to Spithead (for the Coronation Fleet Review) returning to Dover on Sunday evening. The vessel first of all called at Boulogne to land the French guests.

September 20th / October 1st 1911: The Calais Services were run without interruption, although with delay. The condition of matters at Calais, where the seas drove straight into the mouth of the Harbour, were very bad. The RIVIERA, which crossed with the early morning service from Calais had a very bad time in Calais Harbour, where the swell and pressure of the wind broke mooring rope after mooring rope. The S.E.C. Railway turbines on Sunday went to Boulogne instead of Calais, whilst the Ostend service was partially suspended.

October 3rd 1911: Had to go on the hard (ie the grid iron) at Folkestone, in order to clear one of its propellers of some rope that had got entangled in during the gale. Its place in the service on Tuesday was taken the paddle steamer CALAIS (one of her final passages?).

October 22nd 1911: Whilst alongside the Admiralty Pier Extension landing stage, a fireman, named King , was washed overboard. Boats were promptly lowered by his own ship and the Ostend mail steamer PRINCESS CLEMENTINE, and happily the Belgian sailors succeeded in saving King , who was taken aboard the RIVIERA.

July 26th 1913: Carried King Alphonso of Spain and Queen Victoria to Dover from Calais. The King and Queen travelled from Dover to Victoria in a special saloon attached to the boat train.

September 1913 (Late): Became the first of the passenger/ mail steamers to adopt the use of local Tilmanstone coal, the results of which were described as ‘highly satisfactory’.

August 11th 1914: Requisitioned by the Admiralty.

September 6th 1914: Commissioned.

1914: Converted at Chatham into a seaplane carrier for 3 planes. As with the ENGADINE, the initial alterations were found to be insufficiently comprehensive to enable the seaplanes to be maintained and worked to the best advantage. She was assigned to the Harwich Force with the ENGADINE and EMPRESS.

© Imperial War Museum

December 25th 1914: Nine aircraft from all three ships took part in the Cuxhaven Raid on the Zeppelin hangers. Seven aircraft successfully took off but only three returned to be recovered. The crews of the others ditched but were picked up.

February 1915: Purchased by the Admiralty.

February 14th 1915 – April 7th 1915: Modified by Cunard at Liverpool. Now with a permanent four-aircraft hanger in the after superstructure. She then rejoined the Harwich Force.

August 4th 1915: RIVIERA and ENGADINE attempted to launch aircraft to reconnoitre the River Ems in the hope of luring out a Zeppelin but this was unsuccessful.

1915: Joined the Dover Patrol and was operating near to the French coast, a 2 pdr pom-pom was added on the roof, just forward of the twin W/T masts. Also on the hangar was a pigeon loft to house the birds which were taken up in the seaplanes and released during observation flights. How the pigeons coped with the coal-fired boiler gases emanating from the ship’s funnels just a few feet forward of their loft is not known.
She was moved to the South-West Approaches for nine months.

May 1918: Joined ENGADINE in the Mediterranean. She was based on Malta conducting anti-submarine patrols.

February 1918: Received short two month refit at Avonmouth when two sets of rails were secured to the hanger deck making it easier to stow seaplanes.

© Imperial War Museum (Coaling at Constantinople, New Year 1918/19)

May 31st 1919: Sold back to the SE&CR.

1920: Refitted at Chatham.

April 1920: Returned to service.

Dover Express: 11th June 1920
The Victoria has taken the place of the Riviera on the Folkestone-Boulogne service, and the Riviera is now berthed at the Prince of Wales Pier.

Dover Express: 31st December 1920
The South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company are still short of boats, as their steamers have not yet all been returned from reconditioning after war service. The Maid of Orleans commenced to run in May, and the Engadine returned a few weeks ago, the other steamers running the route being the Riviera and the Invicta. The Biarritz, the Empress and the Victoria are still away. The South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company’s cargo service has also been resumed.

Dover Express: 21st January 1921
The S.E. & C.R. cross-Channel steamer Riviera has come into the Wellington Dock for refit. It is the of the Company’s large steamers use this dock since the war, and it took its berth the Esplanade Quay where large fender posts have recently been erected for the purpose of such boats being accommodated there. (left on 26th January when the Invicta came in to replace her. She had been running the Folkestone service)

Dover Express: 23rd December 1921
The South Eastern & Chatham Railway Company, now that the Biarritz has returned to Dover, have four spare boats. The Engadine and the Riviera are in the Granville Dock as stand-by boats, and the Empress in the Wellington Dock has been laid up for the winter. It is, of course, possible to start another service, but it is more than doubtful if there is any call for it. If the modern boats could be used instead of the old French paddle-boats, it would be great advantage, but their retention seems be a condition of carrying the French mails.

Dover Express: 13th January 1922
The cross-Channel steamers the Empress and the Invicta are both laid up the Wellington Dock for the winter. The Invicta came off the service when the Biarritz arrived at Dover from reconditioning, and it has been placed alongside the Commercial Quay. The Engadine is now running the service, with the Maid of Orleans on the 12.50 Calais service. The stand-by boats are the Victoria and the Riviera.

Dover Express: 2nd June 1922
FRENCH PROPOSAL TO SEIZE THE VICTORIA AND THE RIVIERA. The Paris correspondent of the ” Daily Chronicle ” states that a curious affair, which will inspire French authors of humorous music hall scenes, came before the correctional court of Boulogne last week. On the alleged ground that two S.E. and C. Railway mail passenger steamers, Victoria and Riviera, transported to England £370 worth of Camembert cheese in 1920, the French Custom authorities are seriously asking the Court to order the confiscation of the vessels. The demand is made on the ground that the export of Camembert was at the time prohibited by the French regulations. The S.E. & C. Railway, which pleaded not guilty, argue that they acted in complete good faith and did not smuggle any goods. The Customs’ declarations for the incriminating Camembert were filled up in regular fashion with the nature of goods, and the latter were openly taken to the ship in the presence of French Custom officials, who permitted shipment of the Camembert.

Folkestone Herald: 8th July 1922
STEAMBOAT TRIPS S.E.C.R.’s ATTRACTIVE PROGRAMME Our readers will learn with pleasure from the advertisement columns that the successful T.S.S. Riviera trips of last summer will be repeated, beginning Sunday, July 16th, when a long-day trip to Ostend, for the Races, allowing 8 hours at ‘‘The Queen of Belgian Watering Places,” will leave Folkestone Harbour at 11-30 a.m. A further Ostend excursion will leave Folkestone Harbour at 9.15 a.m. on Thursday, July 20th, for the races. The return fares for both trips will 20/- saloon. In addition to the daily trips from Folkestone to, Boulogne by the 11.15 a.m. ordinary daily service, the T.S-S. Riviera will make a special long-day trip to Boulogne on Sunday, July 23rd, leaving Folkestone Harbour at 11.30 a.m. and returning from Boulogne at midnight. The return fare for this long-day trip will be the same as by the ordinary daily excursion, viz, 15/- saloon. A unique opportunity of visiting Calais from Folkestone is provided on Sunday, July 30th, when T.S.S. Riviera will leave Folkestone Harbour at 11-30 a.m., returning from Calais at 8 p.m. The fare will 15s. saloon. Calais will be en fete on this date on account the Races, which begin at 2 p.m. Passports ill not be required for any of the Ostend, Boulogne, or Calais day trips. The popular three hours steamer trips from Folkestone along the the coast will be run by the T.S-S- Riviera, on Wednesdays. July 19th and 26th, and Friday, July 28th, leaving Folkestone Harbour at 3 p.m., returning 6 pm. The fare will be 5s. for adults and 2s. 6d. for children under twelve. One-and-sixpenny teas will he served board in the splendidly-appointed deck restaurant.

Folkestone Herald: 26th August 1922
COASTAL TRIPS. —Three-hour trips from Folkestone along the Coast by the T.S.S. “Riviera,” “Cuxhaven Raid” fame are announced for Wednesdays September 6th and 13th. These, the last of the season will leave Folkestone Harbour at 3 p.m., No one should miss these last opportunities.

January 1st 1923: Transferred to Southern Railway. Buff funnels, black tops


Dover Express: 14th September 1923
DAY EXCURSION TO BOULOGNE. LAST OF THE SEASON. The Continental excursions organised the Southern Railway which have been so successful this summer finish next Thursday (20th September), when a grand day trip will run to Boulogne-sur-Mer. The season is by means over at this popular French watering place, all the attractions at the Casino being still in full swing. Special trains will leave Margate Sands, Ramsgate, Canterbury, Sandwich, Deal, Walmer and Dover Priory for Folkestone Harbour, where the passengers will embark on the magnificent turbine steamer Riviera, which, during her war service, took part in the British raid on Cuxhaven on Christmas Eve, 1914. Those participating this excursion will have about six hours at Boulogne. This being the last trip of the season record bookings are expected, so to avoid disappointment our readers should secure their tickets as early as possible on Thursday morning.

Folkestone Herald: 12th July 1924
Prime Minister Ramsey McDonald crossed from Folkestone to Boulogne in the Riviera on the morning sailing on 8th July. On his way to Paris for a conference with the French President – heartily cheered by crowds on the harbour arm!

1925: Replaced by new steamers and relegated to reserve and summer work.

Dover Express: 30th January 1925
The Riviera has completed its repairs, and has gone on the service, relieving the Victoria, now in the Granville Dock.

Dover Express: 2nd October 1925
The Riviera, which went to Folkestone with tug assistance last Thursday (24th September) to go on the gridiron for examination and adjustment of one of its propeller shafts, returned to Dover the next day under its own power. The Maid of Orleans went out this week to go on the Boulogne service in place of the Engadine. The Isle of Thanet does not come off the service till the Maid of Kent arrives and will not go to Southampton, as has been stated.

Dover Express: 16th April 1926
The Victoria returned to Dover on Wednesday (14th) after repairs, etc. Whilst it was away the Southern Railway Company had no stand-by boats Dover available. The Riviera, the only of their passenger boats in dock, was undergoing a very considerable refit, and some of the funnel casing is being altered

Dover Express: 30th April 1926
The Riviera left for Southampton to dock on Sunday (25th April) and returned on Wednesday (28th).

Folkestone Herald: 7th August 1926
STEAMER IN COLLISION- Whilst the Southern Railway Company’s steamer Riviera (Captain HW Emery) was crossing from Boulogne to Folkestone on Monday evening (2nd August) during dense fog, a slight collision occurred with an unknown British or French trawler. The Riviera only struck the trawler a glancing blow, the boat’s mizzen mast being carried There were nearly seven hundred excursionists on board the Riviera. After ascertaining that no serious damage had been occasioned by the collision, Captain Emery continued on his way to Folkestone, which was reached about 10 minutes behind scheduled time.

Folkestone Herald: 6th November 1926
THE PRINCE’S RETURN: The Prince of Wales, accompanied by Brig General W. Trotter, arrived at Folkestone Harbour on Sunday evening (31st October) on his way to London after his visit to Paris. His Royal Highness made the Channel crossing with nearly two hundred other passengers on s.s. Riviera. The passage was a rough one, but as the Prince, attired in a heavy overcoat and light coloured cap, stepped off the vessel and walked to his reserved compartment in the Pullman car of the boat express, he appeared to be in high spirits. He was smoking a cigarette, and carrying in his left hand his bowler hat and an umbrella. A number of people recognised the royal traveller and raised their hats.

Folkestone Herald: 26th November 1926
Last Saturday’s Gale (ie 19th November)
The cross Channel services from Folkestone were maintained in the face of great difficulties. The steamers from Boulogne and Flushing left punctually in the morning, but soon as the vessels had left the shelter of the harbour they were subjected to a terrific buffeting. Large numbers of people on the Leas watched the departure of the boats. The s.s. Riveria, which was running on the midday service from Boulogne to Folkestone, was only a little late, but there were some exciting incidents before the captain was able to bring his boat into the shelter of the harbour. When the Riviera left in the afternoon for Boulogne she was struck by a number of terrific seas and the captain’s bridge was hit by six great waves in almost as many seconds. The Flushing steamer arrived at Folkestone in the evening only a little late after a terrible crossing. On the outward journey in the morning the s.s. Prinses Juliana lost a lifebelt. The gale had abated considerably when evening Boulogne boat arrived at Folkestone shortly before nine o’clock.

Dover Express: 8th April 1927
The Maid of Kent has been to Southampton for dry docking, and the Biarritz and Riviera have gone out of dock, and the Engadine come in. (Riviera returned to dock on 16th September)

Dover Express: 16th March 1928
The Riviera has returned from Southampton, where it has been overhauled. A considerable amount of work is to be done at Dover. The Engadine has gone out on the Boulogne service; and the Biarritz has come from that service for overhaul.

Dover Express: 25th May 1928
On Monday (21st May) the Riviera came into Dock, and on Tuesday the Engadine went out.

On 6th July 1928, Nottingham Conservatives left on a tour of the Flanders Battlefields. Two LMS trains took the participants to Folkestone where they boarded the chartered Riviera which sailed at 02.30 on 7th to Ostend (arrived 06.00).

Folkestone Herald: 16th June 1928
TRIP TO CALAIS.—For the first time in many years the Southern Railway is running a long day excursion from Folkestone to Calais on Sunday July 1st. The trip will be made in the s.s. Riviera, which will leave Folkestone at 11.30 a.m. allowing eleven hours in France. First class, adult, 12s. 6d., child 6s. 6d. The trip provides a fine opportunity to visit France, and tickets will, no doubt, be in great demand.

Dover Express: 3rd August 1928
HEAVY CONTINENTAL TRAFFIC. The Continental traffic at Dover is now very heavy, and all the Railway Company ‘s boats are out of Dock in readiness for this weekend’s rush, which includes the transport from Dover to Calais of 7,000 of the British Legion who are re-visiting the battlefields. On Wednesday the one o’clock service required two steamers. Last Saturday (28th July) there were so many passengers for Ostend that the Southern Railway Co.’s steamer Riviera had to put on to assist the Belgian Government’s steamers, and took to Ostend over 1.000 passengers. In addition to the Southern Railway services, the Artificer (on charter to Capt Townsend) which embarks motor cars at the Eastern Arm, is doing very considerable business. Since it commenced to run on the 9th of last month, just on 300 cars have been taken to Calais and over 60 brought back. The space is fully taken each day.

Dover Express: 21st June 1929
The Golden Arrow boat Canterbury went to London last week for the overhaul to its engines. The Maid of Orleans went out of dock this week after overhaul, and took the place of the Riviera which came into Dover from the Folkestone service.

Dover Express: 28th June 1929
Southern Railway advert: “Enjoy a pleasant sea trip in the magnificent turbine ss Riviera” – Grand long day trip to Calais for the Anglo-French Fete on Sunday 7th July – 7 hours in France, no passports required.

Dover Express: 9th August 1929
HEAVY HOLIDAY TRAFFIC TO THE CONTINENT. POPULAR OSTEND ROUTE. 10,000 PASSENGERS IN ONE DAY. The Channel traffic during August Bank holiday has been exceptionally heavy especially that to Ostend, and between 40,000 and 45,000 passed through Dover from Wednesday until Monday night. In connection with the noon service from Dover to Ostend on Friday four trains were run from London and a relief boat provided, two boats conveying some 2000. Four trains ran for the midnight service to Ostend and the Riviera left as relief with about 900 passengers (this on 2nd August), and the Stad Antwerpen with 650. Altogether some 7250 passengers passed in and out of the port, including those the Calais service. Saturday, about 13.500 people passed in and out of the port, over 10,000 of whom were conveyed in nine steamers to Ostend in connection with the 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2.20 and 4.30 services to Ostend. Fifteen trains ran from London, Thirty six boat trains ran to and from London during the day. On Sunday, about 6,000 passengers passed in and out, the 12 noon service to Ostend being heavy, the Princesse Elizabeth leaving with a full complement.

Dover Express: 20th September 1929
The two cross-Channel steamers, Biarritiz and Riviera, are back into dock on the conclusion of the excursion trips at Folkestone. It is said that 20,000 more passengers were carried this year, due to the low excursion fares.

Dover Express: 1st August 1930
The Southern Railway Co.’s steamer Riviera came into dock at the week end. It has been running some excursion services, and is reported, according to “Lloyds List,” to have sustained bottom damage whilst lying aground at Folkestone Harbour. The Maid of Kent went out of dock to take over these services.

Folkestone Herald: 2nd August 1930
S.S. RIVIERA TAKEN OFF SERVICE Whilst lying aground in Folkestone Harbour towards the end of last week the Southern Railway Company’s steamer Riviera sustained bottom damage. The Riviera should have gone into service on Friday evening (25th July) , to operate the special week-end service between Folkestone and Boulogne but as a result of the damage sustained she was withdrawn from service, her place taken by s.s. Engadine. On Saturday (26th) the Riviera proceeded under her own steam to Dover for examination and repairs. She apparently received a strain for the stanchions in the engine room were found to be buckled. The cause of the damage is being investigated.

Dover Express: 13th May 1932
The Southern Railway steamer Engadine, which was used last year excursion work at Folkestone, and has been laid up during the winter in the Wellington Dock, has been chartered for three months for excursion work on the Thames. The vessel has been painted and its funnels altered to the light yellow of the London excursion steamers. Its sister ship, the Riviera is laid up in the Camber. It has been frequently rumoured that it has been sold but none of the negotiations has been concluded. Both ships took part in the war. The Engadine was the only seaplane carrier at the Battle of Jutland and towed the battered cruiser Warrior out of the fight. The Riviera was used as a seaplane carrier in the Dover Patrol.

Dover Express: 30th December 1932
The Riviera, which for a good long time had been laid up at Dover, has been sold. (Sold November for about £5,000)
Actually purchased by J B Couper of Glasgow on behalf of H M S (Harold) Catherwood. They resold her almost immediately to Burns & Laird of Glasgow who renamed her LAIRDS ISLE, converted her to oil firing and began running her on the Ardrossan – Belfast route.

1932: Bought by J.B.Couper for Burns & Laird Lines Ltd, of Glasgow and almost immediately sold to Burns & Laird, Glasgow.

1933: Converted to burning oil instead of coal and renamed LAIRDS ISLE. Ardrossan (day) – Belfast.

August 28th 1939: Requisitioned by the Admiralty and, after a very brief conversion at Ardrossan, in which one 4-inch and two 20mm guns were fitted, again entered RN service, this time as an Armed Boarding Vessel based at Dover.

September 15th 1939: Commissioned as HMS LAIRD’S ISLE. Her tonnage was recorded as 1784 gross and the pendant number allocated was 4.21.

September 18th 1939: Left Ardrossan.

September 24th 1939: Arrived at Dover to be used to intercept any ship carrying contraband cargoes, which, in effect, were any goods which Germany needed.

September 27th 1939: Slightly damaged in collision with GRANGETOFT.

October 2nd 1939: Had to proceed at full speed in pursuit of the Norwegian motor vessel GERMANIA to overtake and divert her into the Examination Anchorage.

November 7th 1939: Broke two blades on her starboard propeller and badly buckled a third against the dock wall at Dover: She was sent to Blackwall (Pool of London).

November 14th 1039: Arrived Blackwall for dry-docking. The opportunity was taken of fitting her with Paravane arrangements (Paravanes were developed 1914-1916 by Lieutenant Burney and Commander Usborne as a direct result of the First World War, due to the need to destroy oceanic mines. They consisted of arrangements of booms, wires, winches, chains, and ropes towing delta-shaped metal “fish”. The paravane would be strung out and streamed alongside a towing ship, normally from the bow. The wings of the paravane would tend to force the body away from the towing ship, placing a lateral tension on the towing wire. If the tow cable snagged the cable anchoring a mine then the anchoring cable would be cut, allowing the mine to float to the surface where it could be destroyed by gunfire. If the anchor cable would not part, the mine and the paravane would be brought together and the mine would explode harmlessly against the paravane. The cable could then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted. The method was still in use in the Second World War.).


December 1939: Fitting out.

February 7th 1940: Work completed.

February 7th 1940: Left Blackwall, but got no further thatn the Tongue Lightship at the entrance to the Thames Estuary, when she collided with the merchant vessel HARMATTAN.

February 12th 1939: Back at Blackwall for repairs.

April 15th 1940: Arrived Portsmouth, to be based as a PV Ranging tender to HMS VERNON, the Torpedo and Mining Establishment, and remained there while the Battle of Britain raged overhead.

May 4th 1940: Mooted that she would be “paid off” and assist with troop movements to and from Norway.

October 1940 (late): When the “Blitz” began, the ship moved round to Milford Haven, to be based there until late May 1941.

June 10th 1940: Arrived at Havre to disembark beach parties (Operation Cycle) and return with 286 troops, 65 wounded, military stores and 80 naval ratings of demolition parties, together with their unused explosives.

June 11th 1940: Left Portsmouth for St Vakery-en-Caux, escaped attack by two aircraft en route but off the French coast came under shore fire so was ordered back to Portsmouth without being able to rescue troops.

September 9th 1940: Arrived at her new base of Milford Haven, to range paravanes daily, weather permitting.

October 9th 1940: In collision with BARON BELHAVEN, but was undamaged.

October 24th 1940: Exploded an acoustic mine, again undamaged.

April 1941: Risk of air attack became too great so activities were moved the Kyle of Lochaish.

July 7th 1941: Moved to Firth of Forth.

October 14th 1941: After repairs at Granton and Leith she resumed paravane trials only to be withdrawn 3 weeks later with boiler trouble.

1942 (first half): Persistent problems continued.

August 14th 1942: Replaced by MANX MAID and she was taken in hand at Leith for boiler re-conditioning.

October 1942: Due to return to service but by mid-November was again undergoing lengthy repairs at Rosyth.

December 30th 1943: After two and a half years there left Leith, having been selected for Combined Operations work with the growing fleet of specialist invasion and assault ships.

December 31st 1943: Arrived at West Hartlepool.

1944 (early): Began conversion to a Landing Ship, Infantry, Headquarters (LSI(H))

March 26th 1944: Conversion to Red Ensign Landing Ship, Infantry (Hand hoisting) was completed. At this point her armament was two 2 pdr and two 20mm AA. With addition of fittings her length was now 328 ft 1 in. She left Hartlepool for Middlesbrough and the English South Coast.

June 5th 1944: Left the Solent as part of Assault Convoy J9.

June 6th 1944: Landed troops at Juno beach-head.

June 9th 1944: Sent to Newhaven to embark her next troop contingent.

August 26th 1944: Crossed from Southampton to the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches.

December 7th 1944: Visited the Mulberry harbour at Havre.

January 3rd 1945: Left Solent for Harwich.

January 4th 1945: Started troop carrying to Calais, but was soon in need of essential work.

January 22nd – March 3rd 1945: Under repair at North Shields. She then returned south to take up sailings on the Tilbury – Ostend route.

April 11th 1945: Switched to carry troops between Southampton and Havre.

January 29th 1946: Service closed and she went for refit at Southampton.

February 1946: Repaired and reconverted for mercantile use.

July 29th 1946: Returned to her pre-war Ardrossan – Belfast route.


August 6th 1957: Eleven years later she was withdrawn, making her last run from Belfast. Laid-up at Greenock for while her possible successor, IRISH COAST, was tried out.

October 1957: Sold to the British Iron and Steel Corporation and sent for scrap at Troon.

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 sincerely thanking John Hendy for his assistance in producing this feature.

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

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