British Railways Board (BRB)British Transport Commission (BTC)FerriesPast and Present

TS St David (III) – Past and Present

ID Number: 530574

TS Holyhead

ex St David (III)

Roy Thornton Collection

St David – Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine ship, built by Cammell Laird & Co Ltd, Birkenhead (Yard No 1182) for Fishguard & Rosslare Railways & Harbours Co, in 1947 as a passenger and mail vessel

Technical Data

  • Length: 97.96m (321.4 ft) (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 15.40m (50.5 ft) (extreme)
  • Depth: 5.62m (18.5 ft)
  • Draught: 4.05m (13.3 ft) (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,783.46 – 3,747 gross/1,583.27 – 1,591 net/607 – 617 deadweight
  • Engines: 4 Parsons steam turbines, single reduction gearing, in two independent sets driving one screw
  • Power: 8500 shp
  • Speed: 15 knots (service) 19 knots (max) 20.75 knots (loaded trials)
  • Capacity: 1,200 passengers, 28 cars
  • Call Sign: MJMF,SWVP
  • ID Number: 530574
  • Official Number: 181676
  • Registry: London/UK 🇬🇧, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷
  • Sister-Ship: St Patrick


February 6th 1947: Launched.

Being owned by the Fishguard & Rosslare Railways & Harbours Co the ship was not part of British Railways and thus continued to wear her red funnel, while the GWR house flag was replaced by the former company’s own house flag.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

St David – Roy Thornton Collection

July 1947: Sea trials in the Firth of Clyde.

July 1947: She took up services on the Fishguard – Rosslare route.

Roy Thornton Collection

St David – Roy Thornton Collection

September 4th 1947 – October 4th 1947: Spent a short period on the Weymouth – Channel Island route to see if there would be any problems with the introduction of ST PATRICK on the route the following year.

January 1st 1948: Registered to the British Transport Commission.

November 1st 1948: Ownership under Midland Region, Southampton.

1964 -1969: Fishguard – Rosslare service

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

St David – Roy Thornton Collection

1964: Demand for more car space on the route British Rail decided to increase the car capacity of one the ships. All cars on both sides of the St Georges Channel had to craned loaded until 1964. It was therefore decided that she would be converted, to enable cars to be driven on at the side at both ports. She was therefore converted to have side-loading portals in that year.

1969: Relief on Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire service.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

St David – Roy Thornton Collection

1970 (Summer): Withdrawn from Fishguard and before being laid-up at Holyhead she served on the Heysham – Dun Laoghaire route.

Roy Thornton Collection © A G Jones

St David – Roy Thornton Collection (Left) 🆕© A G Jones (Right)

© William MacDonald © William MacDonald

St David – © William MacDonald 

1970: Advertised for sale with delivery at Heysham. Unfortunately her would-be purchasers defaulted.

1970: Again offered for sale with all bids due in by December 4th.

January 1971: The vessel was eventually purchased by Chandris Cruises and renamed HOLYHEAD.

January 17th 1971: Sailed from Heysham to Perama (Greece). Although never used by Chandris, details of her eventual fate are not clear, although some sources say she was broken up at Perama after being laid up.

Roy Thornton Collection

Holyhead – Roy Thornton Collection

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: A G Jones and William MacDonald for their assistance in producing this feature.

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

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