FerriesPast and PresentSealink

TS Maid of Orleans (II) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5217543

TS Maid of Orleans

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine steamer, built and engineered by Denny’s of Dumbarton for the British Transport Commission in 1949 (Yard No 1414) as a passenger and mail vessel ( a replacement for the BIARRITZ). 

Technical Data

  • Length: 103.94m (341.3 ft) (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 15.24m (52 ft) (extreme)
  • Draught: 5.49m (12.5 ft) (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,777 (gross), 2,776 (net), 570 (deadweight)
  • Engines: Denny steam turbines, single reduction gearing
  • Power: 11,000 shp
  • Speed: 22 knots
  • Capacity: 886 1st class and 736 2nd class passengers/1,400 passengers and also 25-30 cars during winter time (crane loaded hold)(1962/66)
  • Call Sign: MACM
  • IMO Number: 5217543
  • Official Number:183012
  • Registry: London/United Kingdom 🇬🇧


September 9th 1948: Launched. First “Straits” vessel to be fitted with Denny Brown stabilisers.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection

May 1949: During trials attained just over 22.5 knots

May 18th 1949: Delivered to British Transport Commission, Southern Region, London, England

Courtesy of Derrick Packman

June 13th 1949: Left Dumbarton for Southampton

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

June 1949: Arrived Dover from the builders

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection © A G Jones 

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

June 22nd 1949: Made a cruise for press, port and railway representatives between Dungeness and South Foreland Lights.

Stéphane Poulain Collection Stéphane Poulain Collection

🆕 Stéphane Poulain Collection

June 23rd 1949: Maiden voyage from Folkestone to Boulogne.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection 

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

Stéphane Poulain Collection

Stéphane Poulain Collection

Nicolas Levy Collection  Nicolas Levy Collection 

Nicolas Levy Collection (both)

1958/59 (Winter): Due to exhaust fume problems her funnel was heightened and fitted with a “fireman’s helmet” type spark arrester during an overhaul in Southampton, and her second class accommodation was improved during subsequent overhauls in 1962 and 1966.

© P Ransome-Wallis  © British Railways Board

Courtesy of Derrick Packman (© P Ransome-Wallis)(Left) © BRB (Right)

© Courtesy of Michael Woodland

© Michael Woodland

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection 

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

August 1963: Wrapped her mooring ropes round her propellers when coming astern into No.1 berth at Folkestone. Took frogmen two days to free her.

🆕 (Folkestone, August 1963)

Roy Thornton Collection  Stéphane Poulain Collection 

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) Stéphane Poulain Collection (Right)

1964: Vessels painted in the new livery of British Railways, (blue hull and red funnels) and the “Double – Arrow”

Roy Thornton Collection © Ken Larwood 

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) © Ken Larwood (Right)

© A G Jones © A G Jones 

© A G Jones (both)

1964: Left on her own when the CANTERBURY departed.

Roy Thornton Collection  © A G Jones 

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

© A G Jones © A G Jones 

© A G Jones (both)

1965 (summer): The fleet reserve vessel ST PATRICK joined her. FALAISE, herself, acted as relief vessel to COTE D’AZUR and INVICTA.

© Ted Ingham  © Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

© Fotoflite Ref BWQ664

🆕 © Fotoflite

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 were painted in the new house colours.

© Brian Fisher  © Michael Woodland

© Michael Woodland (Left) © Brian Fisher (Right)

May 23rd 1970: Introduced for a short time on “Golden Arrow” service between Dover – Calais.

© Derek Longly

© Derek Longly (Newhaven, Winter lay-up 1970’s)

July 20th 1972 – July 22nd 1972: Used as a relief vessel between Weymouth – Guernsey – Jersey.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

August 7th 1972: Final day in service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

August 9th 1972 – September 30th 1972: “Golden Arrow” service between Dover – Calais.

1973 (Summer): One class service between Dover – Calais.

1973: Sealink trading name painted on hulls

June 28th 1974 – July 8th 1974: Operated between Weymouth – Guernsey – Jersey.

September 27th 1975: Final day in service.


© “ToptoToe”

September 30th 1975: Laid up in Newhaven.

© Ted Ingham

Roy Thornton Collection

November 3rd 1975: Stern damaged by collision. Damage made good.

November 6th 1975: Towed to Spain for breaking by tug IBAIZABEL TRES

November 9th 1975: Arrived at Santander, Steelnorte S.L., San Esteban de Pravia, Spain for scrapping.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions found. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Micke Asklander (Faktaomfartyg), Fotoflite, Ted Ingham, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Derek Longly, Nicolas Levy, Derrick Packman, Stéphane Poulain and Michael Woodland for there assistance in compiling this feature.

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


  1. Enjoyed viewing website, my uncle Len Brown was purser on the “Maid of Orleans” known as “Robin”,as a child I was taken on board, great memories.
    I wonder what happened to all the ship models that were in “Southern House” , I know Dover Transport Museum has one, I believe Maritime Museum has some, be good if these could be brought back to Dover and displayed!! after all its part of Dover history.
    Once again thanks for the nostalgia
    Eric Friend

    1. Eric,

      Thank you for your comments. It’s a labour of love!

      Agreed about the models although I’m unsure, other than the Lord Warden at Dover Transport Museum, what the other models were?
      I did hear that one was Vortigern. Personally speaking, I would love to see that!

      Thanks again and keep viewing
      Nigel Thornton

      PS Your father may remember mine, the “Major” in Southern House?

  2. Hi Nigel, I can remember these models in glass case’s in a top back room? I also knew Peter Wainwright who worked in Southern House.
    Eric Friend

  3. I served on the maid of orleans both as a boy and steward in the fifties, before going deep sea ,happy days.

  4. Hi
    I worked on the Maid of Orleans when she was doing the off turn (staying the night in Boulogne) over night, from Folkestone in the sixties
    great memorises.
    Loved seeing your photos

  5. Hi Jon, forive me if I am repeating myself if you are on other websites, but my conection with the “Maid of Orleans ” is as a boy my uncle Len (Robin) Brown was Purser on the “Maid of Orleans ” and other vessels, and would take me on board I can still remember the areas, and atmosphere of the “Maid” as you say good days!
    Eric Friend

  6. I went on a school trip to Boulogne c1973. We went out on a shiny new ferry but due to some problem or other we came back on the Maid of New Orleans. The seas were pretty rough and the journey was … memorable, to say the least. 🙂

  7. I remember going on the maid of Orleans. My father worked for British rail for over 40 years. We used to travel abroad with British railways touring club. We went to Spain Italy twice and Belgium. Had great times travelling through the countries. Can post photos If needed. Xx

  8. Is the Crew Manifestor a list of survivors of the Maid of Orleans sinking (28Jun ’44) still extant?
    All archive so far give the Master as Herbert Payne but an acquaintance of mine is researching whether he was actually the skipper on the day of the sinking as his family folklore insists that Payne was unavailable on that day and one of theyir family took his place.

    Would such a vessel have had two crews to rotate -and perhaps one nominated “Master” and a second qualified officer to stand in for him?
    Is it feasable that when looking up the vessel’s details Payne’s name always came up as Master and is reported as such even though he wasn’t necessarily on board on all occasons?

    1. Senior Master Captain HL (Len) Payne was on leave at the time attending his brother’s funeral. The ship was under the command of Captain Cecil Masters who was the reserve Master for the D Day operations.

  9. Loved reading this as in the first half of 1965 I went on a pilgrimage from Liverpool to Lourdes in 1965 by train and I remember that we went across the channel from Folkstone to Boulogne on the SS Maid of Orleans. As I was only about 10yo then ( I was 11 in the June), I was not allowed to roam around the ship but ‘escaped’ for a while saying that I wanted the toilet and managed to have a quick look on deck but it was a late crossing and dark. When we arrived in France, again in the dark, we boarded another train for the trip down to Lourdes in compartment coaches and with me being the smallest I was put up onto the luggage rack and slept wonderfully well on that. Tbh I don’t remember much about the return journey but I will never forget that journey down especially as it was my first time away from my parents. Brings back so many lovely memories.

    1. Hi Robert I was a catering boy and then became a steward on the Maid of Orleans at that time and remember the evening trips to Lourdes
      They were very busy trips and many people were carried on board on stretchers

      1. Hi Jon,
        Yes I remember how busy they were. The junior school that I went to in Whiston, came under the Liverpool Archdiocese ans then they had these pilgrimages about every five years. Then it cost about £35 and when your parents did not have much money that was a fortune but they told me the following day when I was going to school to tell them to put my name down.
        Obviously it was a long time ago, I’m 68 now, but remember quite a lot of it especially when just a week or two before we were due to leave I got measles and only got clearance to go on the Thursday before the Saturday departure. Funny how you can remember the train ride, the ferry name, the calm sea and the ride down through France to Lourdes but not the journey home.

      2. Yes it was very busy what with being the youngest and not being with my parents for the first time it was quite daunting. We had to carry our case, I like most only had one case, from the train to the ferry then I was taken below with the headmaster, as it was then, and we sat in the lounge/bar area for the duration of the trip across although I did manage to give them the slip for a while so that I could look on deck by telling them that I needed the toilet. It was the same mayhem when we got to Boulogne what seemed hours later, off the ferry, all muster together, on the train, find our compartment, mad. I was so lucky to be the youngest and smallest as they put me onto the luggage rack – and in charge of the light switch – so that I could get a good sleep. I remember it so well.
        Coming back was so different as I don’t remember hardly anything of the return journey, not even the return crossing or anything.

  10. Sometime late 60s our school day trip went to Boulogne on the Hovercraft, which was damaged in very rough seas on the way out. We returned on the Maid.

    This was with Lydden County Primary School. I was known as Billy Riley then.

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