British Railways Board (BRB)British Transport Commission (BTC)FerriesPast and PresentSouthern Region

SS Minster – Past and Present

ID Number (LR 1930-31): 78724

HMS Minster

Ex Minster

SS Minster

Steel twin screw steamer, built and engined by D. & W. Henderson, Glasgow, in 1924 (Yard No 634) as a Cargo ship.

Technical Data


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.

June 17th 1924: Launched.

August 18th 1924: Delivered to the Dover routes at a cost of £39,125.

SS Minster

SS Minster

December 5th 1928: In collision off Calais with a Boulogne based trawler. She continued to Calais where she discharged her cargo before returning to Dover

December 6th 1928: Came off service and sailed to Blackwall for repairs.

October 1936: The introduction of the Train Ferry Service caused a marked reduction in the general cargo traffic and thus she was transferred to Southampton to replace the elderly ALDERSHOT.

October 24th 1936: Her fist call at Jersey.

February 1937: The decision was taken to build accommodation for passengers, so as to bring her into line with other ships of the class based at Southampton which had the facility from new.

June 20th 1940 – June 21st 1940: Carried evacuees from Guernsey to Weymouth.

June 28th 1940: Set out from Southampton destined for Guernsey however news came through that the island was attacked by German aircraft and she was immediately recalled. She was thenn laid up at Southampton.

August 30th 1940: Requisitioned for fitting out as a Netlayer.

November 10th 1940: Left Southampton.

November 11th 1940: Commissioned as HMS MINSTER.

December 20th 1940: Known to be carrying out an experimental lay in the Gosport area where she was based.

January 10th 1941: Moored to the Vernon Buoy when bombs were dropped close by. Splinter damage and tore her wooden deckhouses from their fittings.

April 19th 1941: After repairs moved to the East Coast and was in collision with HM submarine SUNFISH.

April 21st 1941: After collision safely reached Hartlepool.

July 7th 1941: Completed laying nets in the area between Blackhall Rocks, north of Hartlepool, and Flamborough Head.

July 12th 1941: Moved to Lowestoft to commence  laying along the Suffolk coast off Dunwich and Minsmere,

August 24th 1941 – September 2nd 1941: Based at Dover for work in connection with the minefields and was then sent to Scottish ports.

March 1942: Laid nets at Scapa.

June 24th 1942: Arrived in Oban to work on a new boom.

July 20th 1942: Sailed to Iceland for the first of two visits. In the meantime she had been employed in the Clyde and Loch Alsh and Ewe.

April 9th 1943: After a refit at Grangemouth left for the Forth of Solent in preparation for playing  her part with Mooring Force A in the aftermath of the Normandy Landings.

June 6th 1943: Sailed out of the Solent for Utah beach-head.

June 8th 1943: A mine exploded in the area. Heavy loss of life resulted and she began to list heavily to port. The whole of the net deck was instantly swamped. Although she was only submerged to the top of her deckhouse, salvage was deemed impracticable


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. 

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

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