British Transport Commission (BTC)FerriesPast and PresentSouthern Railway

TS Maidstone (II), Past and Present

Official Number: 148754

TS Maidstone

ex H.M.S. Bungay, Maidstone.

Roy Thornton Collection

TS Maidstone – Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw steamer, built and engined by D. & W. Henderson, Glasgow, in 1925 (Yard No 729) for the Southern Railway.

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 69.82m (220.7 ft)
  • Breadth of Hull: 10.24m (33.6 ft)
  • Depth: 3.94m (114.2 ft
  • Tonnage: 688 (1926), 821 gross/269 (1926), 627net/298 deadweight
  • Engines: Two Self-Reduction 6-cylinder 15”,25”,41”-24”steam turbines
  • Power: 1,850 ihp
  • Speed: 15 knots
  • Capacity: 5 passengers, 30,000 cu ft of cargo space
  • Call Sign: MNQV
  • Registry: London
  • Number in Book (Lloyds Register 1948-49: 67005 
  • Official Number: 148754
  • Sister Ships: Deal (818), Minster (634), Tonbridge (633), Hythe (II) (706), Whitstable (707), Fratton (720), Haslemere (719) Ringwood (730)


From 1924 to 1928 nine new twin-screw cargo steamers were put into commission on the Dover, Folkestone and Southampton services by the new Company (Southern Railway) ; the above seven were allocated to Dover and Folkestone, the remainder being based at Southampton, though a certain amount of interchanging has occurred from time to time. These ships were all alike though their gross tonnage varied between 680 and 750; they came from Meadowside Yard of Messrs. D & W Henderson, Glasgow, the firm so closely identified with the old Anchor Line. They were handsome ships of their class, each with a single funnel, two masts and cruiser stern.

March 16th 1926: Launched and based at Dover.


TS Maidstone – Roy Thornton Collection (Wellington Dock, Dover)

November 1935: During a southerly gale hit Folkestone pier. Bow damaged.

May 17th 1940: Sailed from Folkestone , via Newhaven, to St Malo to establish, with TS TONBRIDGE, a new cargo service to Plymouth.


TS Maidstone – Roy Thornton Collection

June 14th 1940: Owing to the advancing German forces precluded cargo discharge.

June 16th 1940: Returned to Plymouth not only with her outward cargo.

June 22nd 1940: At Guernsey to embark evacuees for Weymouth whereupon, before the German occupation of the Channel Islands, brought the service to a close and she sailed to a lay-up berth at Plymouth.

April 21st 1941: Badly damaged in an air raid on Plymouth, when one bomb exploded in her engine room and another on the adjacent quayside.

May 18th 1941: After temporary repairs towed by tug GOLIATH and arrived in Falmouth.

July 21st 1941: Requisitioned to serve as a Balloon Barrage vessel and fitted out accordingly.

September 27th 1941: Commissioned as HMS BUNGAY.

November 6th 1941: Arrived in Southampton to join the Channel Mobile Balloon Barrage service.

May 1943: Served as a harbour inspection and boom defence layer.

May 21st 1943: Paid off at Southampton to lay-up once again under the name of  MAIDSTONE.

November 1st 1943: Left Southampton for a month between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly, then moved round to the Mersey to handle government stores, with sailings from Liverpool, Ellesmere Port and Manchester to Dublin and Belfast.

November 18th 1944: Left Manchester to start carrying salvage equipment for the U.S. Navy.

November 25th 1944: Sailed out of the Clyde, via Swansea and Falmouth to Havre.

December 13th 1944: Sailed to Cherbourg.

January 2nd 1945: Completed her service with the Americans with an arrival in the Bristol Channel.

January 23rd 1945 – March 17th 1945: Ran on the Special Milk Service between Larne and Stranraer, before returning to the Mersey.

June 27th 1945: Left Liverpool for refit in Southampton.


TS Maidstone – © Ted Ingham (Wellington Dock, Dover)

August 9th 1945: Returned to her owners and reverted to her original name. Reinstated the Folkestone cargo services, although it wasn’t until December the following year that a full passenger service restarted.


TS Maidstone – Roy Thornton Collection (both)

January 1st 1948: Came into the possession of British Transport Commission.

1953: Served on the Heysham – Belfast route.

December 17th 1954 – December 22nd 1954: Also served as a relief on the Stranraer – Larne mail route.

April 22nd 1958: Laid up in Barrow.

December 14th 1958: She was sold for scrapping and towed away by the tug POOLZEE.

December 19th 1958: Arrived in Antwerp for breaking.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Ted Ingham for his assistance in producing this feature.

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


  1. An interesting read, thank you. There is a puzzle here for me, you have her laid up in Southampton, May – November 1943. My father (Jack) has an entry in his seaman book as an AB on her 6/10/43 to 25/10/43 start and end in Southampton. Perhaps another reader can cast some light? Incidentally he went from her to her sister, Deal, for three voyages

    1. David,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Although my research does say the vessel was laid-up at Southampton I believe your fathers seamans book was his personal record and not the ships? He could very well have been in the “lay up” crew which may not have had the same as the ship dates?

      Best wishes
      Nigel Thornton

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