Angleterre-Lorraine-Alsace (ALA)FerriesPast and PresentSealinkSouthern Railway

TS Twickenham Ferry – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5371478

TS Twickenham Ferry

Roy Thornton Collection

Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine steamer, one of three identical stern-loading railway ferry boats ordered by the Southern Railway in 1933 for their intended new Dover-Dunkirk ferry service. Built by Messrs. Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd., Walker-on-Tyne (Yard No. 1446), and engined by Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Co. Ltd., Messrs. Yarrow & Co. of Scotstoun, Glasgow, providing the oil-fired boilers

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: 360 ft (overall),346.8 ft(105.36m)(between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of hull: 60.7 ft (18.50m)¬†
  • Depth: 18.2 ft (5.55m)
  • Draught: 12.5 ft (loaded)
  • Tonnage: 2,839 gross/2,014 net/1,044 deadweight
  • Speed: 16.5 knots (max), 15 knots (service)
  • Engines: 4 Parson‚Äôs single reduction steam turbines of 948 nominal horse power in¬†two sets, each driving one screw
  • Fuel Consumption: 3.0 tons per hour (Full Power)/1.6 tons per hour (Economical speed)
  • Power: 3,300 kW/4900 hp
  • Capacity: 500 passengers, 12 sleeping cars and 2 baggage wagons (or 40 x 25¬†foot(7.62m) goods wagons), 25 cars.
  • Power: 3,300 kW/4900 hp
  • Capacity: 500 passengers, 12 sleeping cars and 2 baggage wagons (or 40 x 25foot (7.62m) goods wagons),25 cars.
  • Call Sign: FOSA
  • ID Number: 5371478
  • Official Number: 163583
  • Registry: Dunkerque.
  • Sister Vessels:¬†Hampton Ferry, Shepperton Ferry


“One of three identical ships originally coal fired and, economically, using Kent coal transported direct to Dover, Eastern Arm, by overhead cable way”

March 15th 1934: Launched

Twickenham Ferry – 🆕

Twickenham Ferry –

July 1934: Delivered to Southern Railways, London, England. Delays in finishing the terminal at Dover meant she was sent to Southampton.

Twickenham Ferry – (@ Southampton)

September 3rd 1936: Sent to Dover.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection (Arrival @ Dover. Noted as flying Southern Railway “House Flag”)

September 22nd 1936: Transferred to the French flag with home port of Dunkerque.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

September 26th 1936: Handed over to her new owners.

October 6th 1936: Commenced service as a train ferry between Dover – Dunkerque.

August 25th 1939: Ceased in commercial traffic.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

August 25th 1939: Ceased in commercial traffic.

August 26th 1939: Requisitioned by the British Admiralty in Dover and renamed HMS TWICKENHAM. Rebuilt as a minesweeper and transferred flag to Great Britain.

June 1st – June 2nd 1940: Berthed at Southampton.

June 16th 1940: At Brest. With the German advance rapidly approaching and being a coal-burner, the crew had to burn the wooden bridge over the car deck in order to sail from the port. On board were Foreign Legion personnel en route to join the Free French Army in Britain.

June 19th 1940: Arrived in Plymouth.

July 14th 1940: Left Plymouth to operate between Stranraer – Larne

July 1940 – December 1940: Operated as a troopship between Stranraer – Larne.

July 25th 1940: Collided with the Stranraer pier. Damaged her fenders and degaussed cable.

March 1941 – January 1944: Operated as troopship between Stranraer – Larne.

January 1944: Withdrawn to be fitted with a stern gantry.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

HMS Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

June 24th 1944: Arrived in Southampton

July 29th 1944: Made her first cargo call at Cherbourg.

October 26th 1944: Arrived at Newport for refit and on completion she sailed for Dover.

December 14th 1944: Joined SHEPPERTON FERRY to create a daily frequency on the train ferry connection with Calais.

January 3rd 1945: Damaged her port side amidships against Dover’s Prince of Wales Pier

January 24th 1945: En-route to Calais sank the inbound tug EMPIRE RUPERT. Damaged her stem plates and forepeak and off service for repairs.

May 20th 1945: Resumed after repairs.

September 27th 1945: Routed from Antwerp to Southampton which became her base for troopship duty to Havre.

October 1st 1945: First sailing on troopship duty.

July 16th 1946: Completed government duty and underwent a refit at Glasgow ie, conversion to oil-burner and refitting for commercial service, stern gantry also removed.

Roy Thornton Collection

Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

October 27th 1947: Left Dover for Dunkerque to be handed back to the French

Estel Postcard

Twickenham Ferry – 🆕

October 31st 1947: Transferred to A.L.A, Dunkerque, France. Renamed TWICKENHAM FERRY.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

November 1947: Together with SHEPPERTON FERRY restored train ferry services between Dover – Dunkerque

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

Twickenham Ferry – Roy Thornton Collection

© Ted Ingham

Twickenham Ferry Р© Ted Ingham

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

© Ken Larwood   

Twickenham Ferry Р© Ken Larwood

© A G Jones

Twickenham Ferry Р© A G Jones (1970)

May 5th 1974: Final day in service.

© Ted Ingham

Twickenham Ferry Р© Ted Ingham

May 24th 1974: Sold to D. Bernardo Sanchez.

May 26th 1974: Arrived at Stellnortem, San Esteban de Pravia, Spain for breaking.

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, Ted Ingham and Ken Larwood for their assistance in compiling this feature.

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


  1. Greetings, I am planning to build a model of the ts Twickenham Ferry, and would like to know if purchase of copyright photo’s is possible, also if there are any plans available; Thks & Rgds, Peter Dixon

  2. I travelled on the twickenham ferry in 1971 aged 9. It was cold and overcrowded but with very nice French crew. Looking back I can’t believe an old prewar ferry was still on the route up to 1974. At night outside in the cold people were sleepin on deck chairs. I still rembering the twin funnels and the train loading on the back. Not like the modern boats now. A forgotten age.

  3. As a schoolboy in Dover in 1958, one of the highlights of my day was watching from the Prince of Wales’s Pier as the Twickenham Ferry and Shepperton Ferry hove-to, turned about and went astern into the British Railways dock. They can’t have been doing more than 5 knots, but their massive freeboard made it look like 15! Happy memories. And they must have been the biggest minesweepers/minelayers in naval history. Love the photos.

  4. Hello,
    I am writing a book about the war and i see that you have a diagram of the ship HMS Twickenham and i would like to enquire about the purchase price.
    Regards Pat

  5. quel plaisir de revoir ce bon vieux “twick” il a transport√© les v√©t√©rants anglais et beaucoup de passagers c’√©tait l’ambiance british dans le salon, comme son moteur marchait au fuel pas de tr√©ssautements, comme sur le ST Germain qui fonctionnait au fuel lourd (on entendait les verres tintaient dans le restaurant) tandis que sur le Twick une fois en mer on ne se rendait pas compte qu’on arrivait tout en douceur.
    les équipages étaient sympas et ils accueillaient les passagers avec savoir faire,
    j’ai travaill√© 23 ans a l’ALA, quand le twick est parti a la casse tous les employ√©s √©taient tristes, le patron avait la cloche de brume duTwick sur son bureau quand le ferry est parti a la casse.
    fier et valeureux ferry qui a transport√© des troupes, des trains, des passagers, des camions de bierre, des animaux en cirque, c’√©tait un moment d’activit√©s quand il accostait .
    il avait un √©quipage super qualifi√© et nous le personnel on √©tait tr√®s chouchout√©s quand on passait a bord, tr√®s peu d’emply√©s sont all√©s faire du shooping a douvres (tr√®s peu parait couramment l’anglais!)
    merci pour ce bon souvenir

  6. I have memories of the Twickenham Ferry as a student returning from University in Switzerland in mid-Summer of 1973 and having one of the worst Channel crossings I have ever experienced aboard her !
    Nigel thank you so very much for this page as I saw very little of the ship since I boarded her late at night and was lying flat on a bunk for the entire voyage before racing to disembark. Now I have a greater appreciation of her and her very distinguished history.

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