FerriesPast and PresentSealink

TS Falaise – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5111969

TS Falaise

Courtesy of Newhaven Museum

Courtesy of Newhaven Museum

Steel geared-turbine twin screw steamer, built by in 1946 Denny’s of Dumbarton (Yard No. 1400) for Southern Railways of Southampton for their cross-Channel service.

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 94,70m (310.6 ft), m (311.0 ft)(overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 14.64m (49.9 ft) (moulded)
  • Depth: 7.80m (25.6 ft)
  • Draught: 3.81m (12.6 ft )(maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,710 gross (1947), 2,416 (1964), 2,046 net (1947), 853 (1964), 575 deadweight (1947), 620 (1964)
  • Engines: Four Parson’s geared turbines
  • Power: 8,500 shp
  • Speed: 19 knots
  • Capacity: 1,450 passenger (1947) and 400 tons cargo (holds fore and aft), 700 passengers and 96 cars (1964)
  • Call Sign: GNWJ
  • IMO Number: 5111969
  • Official Number: 167923
  • Registry: Southampton/UK 🇬🇧


October 24th 1946: Launched.

Courtesy of Newhaven Museum

🆕 Courtesy of Newhaven Museum

June 8th 1947: Sea trials were conducted.

Courtesy of Newhaven Museum

Courtesy of Newhaven Museum

June 14th 1947: Delivered to Southern Railway at Southampton.

July 14th 1947: It was stated that “the ship is intended primarily for the Channel Islands traffic but she could be used on the Dover, Folkestone and Newhaven services and short sea cruises.”. In fact the ship was placed on the Southampton – St Malo route.

July 19th 1947: Arrived in Jersey for the first time, operating a direct service from Southampton once a week.

September 26th 1947: Completed her first season Southampton – St Malo.

Postcard Postcard

🆕 Postcards

October 19th 1947 – November 7th 1947: Sailed for Dover where she relieved the INVICTA on the Golden Arrow service.

January 1st 1948: Registered to British Transport Commission, Southern Region.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection (all)

May 1948: Commenced the first of her annual Short Sea Cruises including Rouen and Le Havre. These cruises ceased in 1963 and were notable for being the means of escape (25th May 1951), from the UK, of two of the five British members (Burgess and Maclean) of a KGB spy ring that penetrated the intelligence system of the UK. (http://www.nickelinthemachine.com/2012/01/the-day-the-traitors-burgess-and-maclean-left-town/)

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection

October 17th 1948 – December 1948: Again covered the Golden Arrow service at Dover, but this was the last time she undertook this task.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection (@ Dover)

1949: The frequency of the St Malo service was increased to three trips each week and thus the ship only visited the Channel Islands during her cruise visits. During the winter months the ship performed the occasional service as required but otherwise remained laid up in Southampton.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

1952: With the introduction of the NORMANNIA however, the ship then relieved regularly on the Le Havre route and , after the reorganisation of the services from Southampton in the Autumn on 1958, also operated to the Channel Islands

March 1960: Went to Barry where alterations were made to hatches to allow more cars to be carried and the wheel-house was extended forward to take in the walkway.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

May 5th 1961: The ship operated two cruises from Folkestone and at the end of the season returned to the Jersey route.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection (@ Dover)

January 1st 1963: British Railways Board succeeded British Transport Commission.

January 4th 1964: Completed sailings between Southampton – St Malo.

Matt Murtland Collection

Matt Murtland Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection 

January 4th 1964: Departed Southampton and proceeded to Vickers Armstrong (Shipbuilders) Ltd’s Palmers Heyburn-on-Tyne yard where she was converted to a car ferry. Outwardly the ship had not changed greatly with the exception of an extra deck of black paint, a white line painted at the waterline and the cabs removed from the wings of the bridge.

Roy Thornton Collection    

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

Roy Thornton Collection

May 13th 1964: Arrived back at Newhaven.

June 1st 1964: After trials, she entered service Newhaven – Dieppe.

August 31st 1964: Collided with the breakwater in Dieppe.

October 5th 1964: Collided with the breakwater in Newhaven.

© Mick Cutler  © Mick Cutler  

© Mick Cutler

© Mick Cutler

March 1965: Received “diagonal strip down livery” at Newhaven Marine Workshops, still with black hull.

© Ted Ingham  © Ted Ingham  

© Ted Ingham (both)

1965: Received new, blue, hull colours but, due to the joint-service working the Newhaven-Dieppe service, kept her yellow funnel.

Roy Thornton Collection  Matt Murtland Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) and Matt Murtland Collection (Right)

© Andy Gilbert  Ferry Publications postcard

© Andy Gilbert (Left) Ferry Publications postcard (Right)


Roy Thornton Collection  (both)

1966: It was decided to lessen the black top of the funnel and expose more buff yellow behind the ventilators. This idea was short lived and previous colours were restored

August 26th 1966:  Due to high winds she ran aground, on the left bank of the river, as she was coming in to dock and, after making temporary repairs to the bow by filling the hole with cement, she was repaired in Middlesbrough.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

© A G Jones (14/10/1966)

1967: The joint-service house flag was added to the funnel.

Roy Thornton Collection  © A G Jones  

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) © A G Jones (Right)

© Ted Ingham

November 1969: It was announced that British Rail’s Shipping and International Services Division (S.I.S.D.) had adopted the new brand name Sealink and as a consequence all vessels would be painted in the new house colours.

September 30th 1971 – October 10th 1971: Operated between Dover – Calais.

April 29th 1972: Sailed from Dieppe on a cruise to Guernsey, returning on May1st

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby (@ Dover)

September 25th 1972 – September 30th 1972: Operated between Dover – Calais.

September 30th 1972: Returned to Newhaven – Dieppe.

Roy Thornton Collection  Courtesy of Jim Ashby  

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) and Courtesy of Jim Ashby (Right)

1973: Sealink trading name painted on hulls

Roy Thornton Collection  © JK Byass

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) Roy Thornton Collection (© J K Byass) (Right)

January 8th 1973: Final day operating at Newhaven. Sailed for Holyhead to be converted for use on the new Weymouth-Jersey service. Had new stern door fitted.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood  

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (all)

April 21st 1973: Arrived at Weymouth and, after a trial trip at Jersey on the 25th and VIP voyage, she entered service between Weymouth – Channel Islands on June 1st.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby (St Helier 07/08/1973)

September 8th 1973: Final day in service between Dieppe – Newhaven.

1974: Returned to service between Weymouth – Channel Islands.

August 1974: Behaving badly with severe engine trouble the vessel eventually had to be withdrawn from service on the 14th August.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection (Sealink News)

August 21st 1974: Following her failure she was laid up in Newhaven. Eventually the ship departed for Holyhead in tow of the tug FAIRPLAY XIII. Upon her arrival at Holyhead it was deemed that the vessel was beyond economic repair and she was offered for sale.

December 24th 1974: Following a period of time “on the market” she was eventually sold to a Spanish ship breakers. She departed Holyhead for the breakers on Christmas Eve 1974.

December 31st 1974: Arrived in Bilbao, Spain for her scrapping to commence.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions. All items included in this article are subject to ©. We would like to thank: Mick Cutler, Ted Ingham, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Matt Murtland (for access to his collection) and Ken Smith for their assistance with this feature.

Special thanks go to Andy Gilbert (Newhaven Museum) and Jim Ashby.

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


  1. Hi, I was working on the Falaise in 1966 just thought I would suggest the following corrections. She ran aground on the left bank of the river as she was coming in to dock due to high winds and after making temporary repairs to the bow by filling the hole with cement, we took her up to Middlesborough for repairs…….not southampton.

  2. What exactly happens to ships when the ae scrapped? ..could this veteran old lady be living on in other forms? [ recycled steel]
    Or are they put into landfill?
    We sailed on this tiny ship in the mid 1960’s..and had a very rough crossing that remains in my memory..was a child at the time but glad to get off.
    Asking Dad ”are we nearly there yet” and him looking at his watch saying ”we have been at sea 1.5 hrs, so a few more to go yet”…I still remember the face of his watch, and the thought of ”surely it can’t be just an hour and a half..it feels like 4 hrs”….
    The deck was closed, and the only wat to get air [and spray] was from the open ‘windows’ where people stood in green silence praying for a sight of England.

    1. Hi Catherine,

      Thank you for leaving us a comment and Happy New Year to you. I am always interested in hearing people’s memories of a certain vessel and the stories connected to them. My late step father was a merchant mariner and even to this day I remember his stories with a smile.

      In regards to what happens when a ship is scrapped, that’s an interesting question. Even back in the day of when the Falaise was scapped I am sure the steelwork would have been melted down and reused. Nowadays ship ‘recycling’ is very big business as shipping companies try to dispose of old tonnage in the most environmentally friendly way.

      Best Wishes

  3. Hi Ray,
    What a fantastic surprise to find your terrific web-site, photos and information on the cross channel ferry TS Falaise.
    My father died in October 2016 and I have been going through his numerous glass slides, negatives, photos etc. I came across a tiny photo of my mum beneath a life-boat named “Falaise”. It is prominently dated “1953” but I have actually discovered a diary in which she records that the two of them cycled from Torbay to Southampton between 21st –22nd June 1952, and embarked on their ferry crossing on the morning of Monday 23rd June. I am such a novice on sea-faring matters that my question is “Would the life-boat have carried the same name as the mother ship?”
    If yes and you would like a copy of the photo, please can you give me your email address so that I can send you a scan?
    Peter Gosling

  4. Hello,

    I would like to contact Peter Thornton to find out if I can license some of the photographs of La Falaise for a documentary film.

  5. This Ferry was one we seemed to take a lot [according to mum] in the 1960’s. Ferries were so tiny then, compared to the behemoths now..re scrapping, and what happens, thanks for reply 🙂
    Scrapping of ships has become very dangerous work nowadays, [maybe it always was risky] ..a woman was shown sitting on a pile of asbestos , she was actually sieving it, no breathing apparatus, not even a basic face mask..
    When one thinks of the ship builders of years ago, and how many of them were affected by asbestos used in the trade in later life, one wonders what the fate of the Indian women will be..
    Dieppe was a very attractive harbour, where the ‘smaller’ ferries could fit.
    There is an old colour film on You Tube featuring Falaise at Dieppe.

  6. I remember going on a school trip to St.Malo from Stamford Exeter CE school in the sixties.
    We travelled on the Falaise and had a really rough crossing.
    We had to pay the Crew for the use of a deck chair and blanket to sleep in the deck.
    Am I right in saying the sister ship was The Brittany.

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