British Railways Board (BRB)British Transport Commission (BTC)FerriesLondon Midland and Scottish RegionPast and PresentRequests

TS Princess Margaret (1931) – Past and Present

ID Number: 528489

TS Macau

ex Princess Margaret


Steel twin screw steam turbine vessel built in 1931 by William Denny & Brothers Ltd., Dumbarton (Yard No 1252) as a passenger, vehicle and cargo ferry for the London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company (LMS)

Technical Data

      • Length: 98.75m (overall)
      • Breadth: 14.8m (extreme)
      • Draft: 3.57m
      • Tonnage: 2,523 gross (1931), 2,552 (1962), 3,670 (1964)/994 net/640 deadweight
      • Engines: Four self reduction geared Parsons steam turbines (initially coal fired)(oil fired from late 1951)
      • Power: 1,375 nhp (7,500 ihp)
      • Speed: 20 knots service, 20.7 knots (sea trials)
      • Capacity: (sleeping accommodation) – 161 (1931), 300 passengers (1964)
      • Cargo: 37850/1,071.8cu ft
      • Cattle: 236 + 37 horses (loaded through side doors aft)
      • Crew: 61 + 38 drivers
      • Call Sign: GMQF, ZENI
      • ID Number: 528489
      • Official Number: 134672
      • Port of Registry: Stranraer/UK, Hong Kong/UK
      • Sister Ship: Princess Maud (II)(1265)


May 5th 1930: Ordered at a cost of £180,000, actual cost £179,446

January 21st 1931: Launched and named by Miss Margaret Rose, daughter of the Chairman of The London, Midland & Scottish Railway Local Committee

March 12th 1931: Trials.

Trials – Roy Thornton Collection

March 17th 1931: Sea trials completed.

March 20th 1931: Delivered to London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company (Stranraer Section) for their Stranraer – Larne service. First class was amidships with 3rd class sleeping berths.

March 31st 1931: Special lunch with invited guests taken to Stranraer.

April 1st 1931: Took over the mail run.

June 7th 1931 – August 16th 1931: On alternate Sundays used for excursions from Stranraer – Bangor. These trips continued each year.


Roy Thornton Collection

June 26th 1932: Chartered to convey a party from Larne to Dublin for the Eucharistic Congress.

November 18th 1932: Carried Edward, Prince of Wales from Larne

1933: Funnel cowl top removed.

1935: Last year excursion trips offered.

August 18th 1935: Last excursion trip, Stranraer – Larne via Bangor, made by the vessel.

1937 – 1938 (winter): Alterations made to passenger accommodation.

April 17th 1939: Laid up.

July 7th 1939: With the arrival of the new PRINCESS VICTORIA (III) transferred to Heysham – Belfast

Roy Thornton Collection

September 5th 1939: Returned to Stranraer – Larne apart from a few trips engaged as an infantry-landing craft in the Normandy landing during the second world war.

December 1939: Developed engine trouble.

1939: Converted, at her builders, from coal to oil burning.

June 17th 1940: Requisitioned to carry troops and military stores on her normal Stranraer – Larne route.

June 20th 1940: Released from trooping duties.

October 1940: In fog, whilst returning from overhaul at Harland & Wolff , Belfast, collided with the Belfast, Mersey & Manchester Steamship Company’s GREYPOINT in Belfast Loch.

January 18th 1941: Whilst leaving Larne on the evening mail run when the strong south-east wind blew her on to a ship lying at the north pier. Subsequently withdrawn for a few days.

February 9th 1941: Collided with HAMPTON FERRY in Loch Ryan.

September 1941: To Holyhead for overhaul.

December 7th 1941- December 21st 1941: Engaged on special “milk runs” between Larne – Stranraer. Her onboard electric crane was removed prior to this to allow more space for perishable cargo.

December 1942: To Holyhead for overhaul.

January 4th 1944: Taken up for conversion to a Red Ensign Landing Ship (LSI (Small) pennant P 4.419). Assigned to Penarth for fitting out.

January 6th 1944: Arrived in the Bristol Channel.

March 13th 1944(Operation Neptune/The landings in Normandy): Equipped in her new role to carry six landing craft, arrived in Southampton to join the assault fleet, from Weymouth Bay on D-Day, due to reach Omaha beach-head. However she was switched to replace the damaged PRINCESS MAUD,

June 6th 1944 (D-Day): Sailed, with a destroyer escort, for the Normandy beaches where her function was to assist in the destruction of heavy coastal batteries. Also carried the first medical units to land in Normandy.  Made several further crossings.

October 24th 1944: Having been released, arrived on the Clyde where she underwent an austerity refit at Glasgow.

Roy Thornton Collection

December 25th 1944: Resumed on the Stranraer mail service.

October 1st 1945: Left for a complete overhaul at Glasgow.

November 5th 1945: Returned to service.

November 1945: PRINCESS MAUD returned from short overhaul and PRINCESS MARGARET is transferred to Heysham – Belfast.

February 11th 1946: Departs Heysham – Belfast service to relieve PRINCESS MAUD on Larne – Stranraer  for refit until she returned in August 1946.

March 1946: Commenced service between Heysham – Belfast.

September 1946 (mid): Returned to Stranraer to allow PRINCESS MAUD to work Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire route

March 12th 1947: Anchored off Corsewall Point with 300 passengers on board in a severe blizzard, diverted to Gourock on 13th after the railway line from Stranraer was blocked by the blizzard.

March 18th 1947: Replaced by PRINCESS VICTORIA IV and switched to Heysham – Belfast.

May 1947: Returned to Stranraer.

January 1948: The London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company became part of the British Transport Commission trading under British Railways

1949 (spring): Radar fitted

Roy Thornton Collection

July 20th 1949: Operated the first post-war excursion ex Larne, which sailed along the Antrim coast to Rathlin and back.

1951 (winter) – March 1952: During her overhaul she was converted to an oil burner by D & W Henderson of Glasgow.


Roy Thornton Collection

March 1954: To dry-dock for repairs to a fractured stern.

1956: Renovated and the accommodation updated. Transferred to Caledonian Steam Packet Co (Irish Services) Ltd.

December 16th 1961: Last sailing from Stranraer – Larne.

December 17th 1961: Withdrawn, to be replaced by CALEDONIAN PRINCESS, and laid up at Stranraer.

January 1962: Announced that she was to be sold.

January 3rd 1962: Left Loch Ryan for lay up in the Albert Dock, Greenock.

January 4th 1962: Laid up in Albert Harbour.

March 30th 1962: Sold to Shun Tak Shipping Company, Hong Kong for a reported £45,000.

April 25th/26th 1962: After being prepared in the Garvel Graving Dock, Greenock sailed for Hong Kong.

May 2nd 1962: Passed Gibraltar.

May 11th 1962: Arrived in Port Said.

May 19th 1962: Arrived in Aden, staying until May 31st

June 7th 1962: Arrived in Karachi.

June 28th 1962: Sailed from Karachi (touching land at Cochin, Colombo, Penang and Saigon on her way).

July 23rd 1962: Arrived in Hong Kong.

November 1964: Renamed MACAU. The original intention to rename her PRINCESS ALEXANDRA was not proceeded with (port of registry changed from Stranraer to Hong Kong).

December 1964: After an extensive refit (including an additional deck passenger accommodation), commenced service on the Hong Kong – Macau route.

  © Derek Longly  

© Derek Longly

August 13th/14th 1971: Suffered damage when hit by Typhoon “Rose”. Holed, the boiler-room and machinery space flooded.

September 13th 1971: Re-floated and salvage work completed. Towed to the Taikoo Dockyard for survey.  She was then laid up pending the outcome of the insurance claim.

March 1974: Handed over to ship-breakers Yau Wing Co., for breaking up in “Junk Bay“ at Hong Kong.

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 thanking: Derek Longly and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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

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