This page is all 'then', there is no 'now' as the ferries are no longer in Folkestone, which is a great shame, as they had been there since the harbour was first bought by the South Eastern Railway Company in 1842.  At the turn of the last century, they did a very brisk business going to and from the Continent, both to Boulogne in France, and Flushing in the Netherlands.  Also the railway was responsible for the collier boats to begin bringing coal from the north.  These were very distinctive with their tall masts, necessitating a swing bridge to be installed in the harbour to allow them through.

Although this page is mainly for the ferries of Folkestone, you will also find other boats here, like the collier boats, the more modern Sea Cat catamaran and you might find the odd shipwreck!

Again, these will not be in order of date - or in any other order for that matter.  This is so I can add to the page as I get new photos, without having to revamp the whole page each time.

Wherever I have the name of the ship, I will tell you.  If you know, and I don't, be sure to tell me won't you?
Anyway, we are off to a good start, because I do know the name of this one.   It was the 'Maid of Orleans.'

I had an e-mail from Tina Watkins, who tells me she was a Shop Steward on this ship in the 1970's.  She said she loved this ship because it was the first time she had had a cabin and en suite facilities to herself.
What a fabulous job Tina, I am envious!
This was the South East Railway pier with a steamer waiting to be loaded.  You can see that this one was well equipped with lifeboats.  You can tell this photo is a lot older than the one on the left though, they didn't have paddle steamers in the 70's.
Turbine steamer 'Onward' leaving the harbour.
Another slightly fuzzy one of the 'Onward'
This doesn't look like Folkestone Harbour does it?  Well, that's because it isn't!  This was a ferry leaving Boulogne to go where?  Folkestone of course!
This outward bound paddle steamer was the 'Mabel Grace'
This must have been taken during the changeover period, because here we have both a steam ship and a sailing ship.  I would have loved to see that sailing ship in full sail, wouldn't you?
What a hive of industry the harbour used to be.  In the outer harbour you can see a paddle steamer arriving from Boulogne, and the inner harbour has huge sailing ships that must have dwarfed the local fishing boats, and now, in the 2000's, they have stopped the cross channel ferries altogether.  I don't think they will ever come back now, because the harbour has silted up, and would be too shallow for the big vessels without a lot of dredging expense.
I think this must be an art card of HMS Neptune, Royal Naval Masted Turret Ship in 1874
On the left you can see the boat train, which probably brought the passengers for the ferry you can see leaving for Boulogne.  That one looks similar to the 'Mabel Grace', but I don't know for sure.
I think this ferry was around when I lived there.  It was the 'Cote D'Azure'.
Zipping back in time to 1903, here we have a paddle steamer arriving.
Here is a busy scene showing the arrival of a turbine steamer, with a boat train standing by to take those passengers who want to go, on to London.
A lot more modern, here we have the Sealink 'Horsa'
And here are those colliers, all lined up against the sea wall.  Across the road, you can see the Pavilion Hotel.  Can you see the fellow adjusting his sail on the left of the picture?

It was because of these boats that Folkestone required a swing bridge in the harbour, but more about that on the Harbour page.
A branch railway line to the harbour was built in 1844 and used to take coal from the colliers up to the coking ovens by the Junction Station.
And here is how they looked from above.  You will never see boats like this again in Folkestone harbour.

Can you see the swing bridge behind them?
A Boulogne steamer in 1910.  Didn't they dress well in those days?  They really took a lot more care in their appearance than we do these days.
Here is an interesting card showing the fares from London to Paris via Folkestone and Boulogne.

You could buy a first class return ticket for Ł4.7s.10d
The arrival of the Flushing boat also meant the arrival of the Royal Mail.

This is the 'Mecklenburg of Vlissingen', which brought the mail to and from the continent. This photo was sent to me by René Hillesum.  Thanks René
Here are lots of people getting ready to board the boat in 1928 which would have been heading over to the continent.

I notice it is mostly men.  Works outing maybe? :-)
Judging by the clothing, this one might be around the same age.  It shows the SS Riviera leaving the harbour.  The Riviera was the sister ship of the Engadine, which went into service in 1911.
Here is another photo of the  'Mecklenburg of Vlissingen' taken in 1912
Now look at this amazing photograph!  It is from 1987 and was kindly loaned to me by Cliff Sherwood from the Virtual Tourist site.  (See links page)

Hengist had a couple of notable incidents in her Sealink career. In April 1987, not long after the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster, she sank a French trawler as she swung upon departure from Boulogne. Three members of the trawler crew were killed. Six months later, on the night of the 'Great Storm' that hit southern England, Hengist was forced to put to sea where the waves almost capsized her. Losing electrical power, the ship drifted helplessly onto the beach where she was badly damaged and holed. She remained beached for nearly a week, and repairs took well into the next January to complete
Apparently nobody was hurt.

I have seen a lot of photographs of the Warren, but this is the first time I have ever seen a ferry sunbathing on the beach!
Oh yes, business was very brisk for the ferries in those days.

I would guess this to be in the 30's or 40's wouldn't you?
I can't make out the name of the ship that is leaving, but the one docked has the name 'Walmer' 'London' on the stern.
This photograph was taken at an identical position but in a different time zone.  This time we know it was the Princess of Wales that was leaving - however, it was definitely not named after Diana, she certainly wasn't  born when this photo was taken.
Now you can see the Victoria leaving Boulogne
Steaming past the end of the new pier in 1910.
These lucky people are off on a trip to the Continent in 1924.  This photo too is clickable if you would like to get a close-up of the people.
Here is a picture of the Hengist, sister ship of the Horsa when she was not quite so land locked!  I have just discovered something dreadful about this ship - check the bottom of the page for an update on what happened to her after leaving Folkestone
Both above and below  are photos of the Invicta
Back to the genuinely old, this time it is the Isle of Thanet
This one is heading in the other direction.  Leaving Boulogne for Folkestone
The Maid of Orleans and the Biarritz
Here is the Maid of Orleans again.  It was in service from 1949 to 1975.  This photo was taken in the 60's.
Oh we are really going back in time now, right to 1890, so I guess this picture must have been coloured afterwards.  They did a very good job with it didn't they?

I suspect it was probably done digitally in very recent times.

It could very well be the Duchess of York again.
Here is an exceptionally clear photo of a paddlesteamer leaving the harbour.  I believe this was the Duchess of York, but can't make out the name.
Do you know this one? It was the Cote D'Azur in 1958.

Isn't it funny how the quality of this one makes it look like an older photo than the one on the left?  It's not though.
Now what a strange scene to turn into a Christmas card!  I guess it would be a good one to send to someone who worked on the ferries, but without a little snow or a robin or two, it sure doesn't look much like Christmas does it?
A picture of the South East & Chatham Railway Pier and the S.S. Mabel Grace.
SS Canterbury on her way out of the harbour.
The SS Duchess of York in 1897. 
Dateline 1905, and here is the SS Empress on her way.
The SS Victoria in 1909.

Want to imagine you are in your long flowing dress and about to step on board?  Click on the picture to get up close.

Erm.. fellas - you can leave out the dress visualization if you wish!
This was another one belonging to the Zeeland Steamship Company.  This time it is the  SS Oranje Nassau
Use your back button to return here afterwards.
This was the Princess Juliana in the 1920's.  This ship has the dubious claim to fame as the ship that inadvertently took escaped German P.O.W. Gunther Pluschow, who had escaped from Donington Hall, Leicestershire to Flushing in the Netherlands.  He was hiding under the tarp of one of her lifeboats.  He was the only German P.O.W. to make a successful escape from Britain in both World Wars.

I believe the Princess Juliana was in service at the same time as the Mecklenburg of Vlissingen

It is my understanding that Flushing was the English name for Vlissingen.
This was the talk of Folkestone in 1918, towards the end of the First World War.  A fire, supposedly started by an enemy agent - broke out in the Onward.  In order to save the quayside that she was berthed alongside, they opened her sea-cocks and the fire was put out, but the weight of the water caused her to roll over onto her side.  It took five steam locomotives to pull her upright again.
The Onward was the sister ship of The Victoria.
Photo Imperial War Museum, and information gleaned from 'Folkestone Boulogne 1843-1991 by John Hendy
I bought a reprint of a page from the Illustrated London News, dated October 3, 1896, and the above photo was printed of the day Folkestone had two ships run into trouble off her shores within hours of each other.  They were the Agder and the Baron Holberg.  If you would like to read the story which was printed alongside this photo, click HERE
This page updated January 28, 2022
Here is a great one of the Horsa on one of her last trips across the Channel.  It was sent to me by John Baker.  As you can see, she has undergone a paint job since the picture above.  The Horsa was the sister ship to the Hengist that you will see further down.  Thanks John!
Now this one has me curious.  It was a picture in the Illustrated London News dated September 21, 1861.  and was entitled 'Packet Boat Victoria Off Folkestone'.
Were there two ships called Victoria?  Because this one has paddles, but it doesn't look as if the one leaving Boulogne above does.

Also, I believe the Victoria was the sister ship of the Onward, and that wasn't a paddle steamer.  There must have been two of them!

Question answered!  This was indeed a different 'Victoria', which makes sense considering the length of Queen Victoria's reign, there were several ships named after her.  This was built in 1860 along with the matching 'Albert Edward' in 1861 for the South Eastern Railway, to run between Folkestone & Boulogne.  Duncan Mirylees, who sent me the info. says the engraving here is a bit of a lie, as she wasn't really the sleek ocean greyhound she appears to be, but a rather 'boxy' little thing, but still performed over thirty years of good service being broken up in 1895.  Thank you so much Duncan, and for your very entertaining e-mail!
Oh just look at this magnificent ship!  And to think I said we would never see large sailing ships in Folkestone Harbour again, how wrong I was!
Karen McLennan was kind enough to send me these photographs of the Grand Turk when she visited Folkestone recently.  Karen was lucky enough to go for a sail in her, and these are some of the photos she took that day.

I can't find Karen's e-mail any more, but think she said that this ship was made for a movie.  Was it Pirates of the Carribean?
Now we have a couple in the Sealink family.  On the left is the M. V. Vortigern in the 1980's, and on the right is the Earl William, which operated Weymouth/Portsmouth To The Channel Isles And Cherbourg With Relief Duties On The English Channel Routes Plus Services On The Irish Sea Before Withdrawal & Sale.
Another look at the BR/Sealink Maid of Orleans
This very worn 1903 card listed the fares from Boulogne to Folkestone - in English!
This was the Onward in Boulogne in 1914, and look below to see what happened to her just four years later!
I don't know if this catarmaran is still running from Dover, but I believe it was the last cross-channel vessel to run a regular route from Folkestone to Boulogne.
The year is 1922, and the ships are the Riviera and the Princess Juliana
"The Queen" was built in 1903 at the William Denny Brothers yard, Dunbarton. She went into service for the SE&C Railway Co. on the Folkestone to Calais route. She was the first steamer on the cross-channel run to be fitted with the new turbine engines. She was fast and comfortable, and could cross the Channel in less than 1 hour. In August 1916, during the First World War, she was caught by a German Destroyer, torpedoed and sunk off the Varne Bank.
This very old card is entitled 'Tidal Boat Starting'.  I don't know enough about ships to know if they always leave on the tide, or if it was only necessary to wait for that in the days of paddle steamers.  I am certain someone will tell me though!
If you have your own memories of Folkestone, be sure to share them with us by jotting them down in the book below
First Anglo-Dutch War. The war started prematurely with a skirmish between the Dutch fleet of Maarten Tromp and Blake off Folkestone on May 19 1652 - the Battle of Goodwin Sands.

The war proper started in June with an English campaign against the Dutch East Indies, Baltic and fishing trades by Blake, in command of around 60 ships. On September 25 Dutch Vice-Admiral Witte de Witt, underestimating the strength of the English, attempted to attack Blake, but due to the weather it was Blake who attacked on the 28th - the Battle of the Kentish Knock - with de Witt retiring on the 30th.

The English government seemed to think that the war was over, sending ships to the Mediterranean, and Blake had only 42 warships when he was attacked by 88 Dutch ships under Tromp on November 29, so losing the Battle of Dungeness and giving control of the English Channel, and later the Mediterranean to the Dutch.

Following a major reorganisation of the Navy, Blake sailed with around 75 ships to disrupt Channel shipping, engaging Tromp with a similar sized fleet in the Battle of Portland from February 18 to 20 when Tromp escaped with his convoy under cover of darkness. At the Battle of Gabbard Shoal on June 2 to 3, 1653, Blake reinforced the ships of Generals Richard Deane and George Monck, where the Dutch fleet fled having lost 20 of 100 warships for no English losses - though Deane was killed.

The Channel was at last returned to English control, and the Dutch fleet was blockaded in various ports until finally losing at the Battle of Scheveningen, where Tromp was killed.
Now you can stop feeling guilty about the amount of time you have spent sitting here today looking at these photos.  It's educational!
The decade is the 30's and you are looking at a Morris car being loaded onto a ship.
This is a motor tug built in 1959 and owned by Eurosalv of Folkestone
Chris Long kindly sent me this photo of the Hengist when she was beached at the Warren in 1987.  Seeing that building alongside, it makes you realise just how big those ferries are.  As you can see, the sea is still pretty rough at this stage.  It's a great photo isn't it?  Thank you so much Chris.
Nope it wasn't!  I heard from a lady who tells me she is prancing around this deck at the moment, dressed in a pirate's outfit!  She is Wendy James, and is a volunteer crew member.  Here is what she said:  "The Grand Turk was actually made for the TV series Hornblower, in which she was HMS Indefatigable, and the French Ship Pappilon (painted in two different colours on different sides!). She has also featured in Longitude, and the BBC's Coast- the list goes on.
"The Folkestone sailings were actually the most sucessfull I've known. However, there were problems as the tide varied so much- we had to put on/take off a "box" with a crane to offload passengers each time. The variations in height we had to deal with were pretty extreme! There was one night when we returned from the pub (sober, of course) and had to slide down the gangway on our bottoms- quite a sight!

At the moment, there are a core, full time employed crew of 14, which is pretty small. That is enough, however to crew the ship when she is under power.  When under sail- we need around 30, perhaps a couple less if they're very experienced. I've been involved with her for around 4 years, and haven't been around during filming, but many of the crew have. "
Needless to say, I had loads of questions for Wendy, I asked her about the Folkestone visit, and also how many crew members it takes to sail her.  I also wanted to know if she had taken part during filming.

Here is what she answered:
HMS Engadine,built by Denny as the Folkestone-Boulogne ferry for South Eastern & Chatham Railway Company,launched 23/9/1911 and named after the Engadine valley in Switzerland. Sunk by Mine in Manila Bay 12/1941
HMS Engadine was a seaplane tender which served in the First World War. She was taken over by the Royal Navy in 1914 along with her sister ship HMS Riviera and modified by the construction of cranes and a hangar aft of the funnels so that she could carry four Short 184 seaplanes. There was no flight deck, the aircraft being lowered onto the sea for takeoff and recovered again from the sea after landing.
Her aircraft participated in the Cuxhaven Raid on Christmas Day 1914. At the Battle of Jutland in 1916, one of her seaplanes, piloted by Lieutenant Frederick S. Rutland with Assistant Paymaster G.S. Trewin as observer carried out an aerial reconnaissance of the German fleet. This was the first time that a heavier-than-air aircraft had carried out a reconnaissance of an enemy fleet in action. Later in the battle she rescued the crew of the crippled HMS Warrior before taking her in tow. Later in the war she served in the Mediterranean.
She was sold back to her original owners, the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company in December 1919 and sunk by a mine with heavy loss of life in Manila Bay in December 1941 having been renamed Corregidor in 1933.   In the centre you can see her wearing her wartime 'dazzle' paint job.

The photo on the left, and the one below it prompted Stephen Carey to write to me.  He was tracing the life of his Grandfather, Fireman W. E. Carey.  He enclosed these scans of his Record Book of Contribution to the National Seaman's and Fireman's Union, noting there is an entry inside referencing the shipwreck of the S.S.Onward on October 21st 1918.  He also stated that the last stamp in the book would have covered that date, and the page was stamped 'Deceased'.  He therefore wanted to know if I knew of any casualties arising from that incident.  Being a Fireman, it certainly sounds feasible that he could have died fighting the fire on the Onward, but as yet have not been able to ascertain this information for him.  I will certainly keep trying though!.
Stephen also came across the newspaper clipping on the right about Mr. Fred Harris of Canterbury Road, who was employed by the Southern Railway and fell from the quay at Boulogne and drowned.  He tells me his Grandmother's maiden name was Harris, and he is hoping someone from Folkestone can shed some light on that mystery too.
Here's a photo I took myself on one of my visits home.  I believe it was a dredger clearing out some of the silt from the outer harbour.  What a huge job that must have been!
If anyone has any information regarding casualties as a result of this fire, please drop me a line to  because I would really like to clear this mystery up.
Another one of the Canterbury, on her way to Boulogne
Southern Railway's 'Riviera' sister ship of the Engadine, belching out some pretty black smoke.
Here are a couple of photos of the Biarritz, Built for the South Eastern & Chatham Railway in 1914 for Folkestone/Dover - Calais/Boulogne. Passed to Southern Railway in 1923. 1949 scrapped. 2,495 gross tons.
Another one of the Canterbury, owned by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway.  Built in 1901, she was sold to Lord Moyne in 1926 and renamed Arpha.561
Busy days at Folkestone Harbour, the pier is crowded with passengers coming and going.  The photo on the left shows the lighthouse that is still there, and there is a good view of a crane in action, loading some goods from the train, onto what I think might be the Onward.
The year is 1910, and the passengers seen here disembarking have come from Boulogne.
It's 1856 and the SS Mangerton of Folkestone runs into the Josephine Willis of New Zealand - total lives lost 70.  After an inquiry, a charge of manslaughter was levelled against  Richard Bouichier, the Captain of the Mangerton, however he had by then absconded.  To read the full account, check here:
Another nice clear photo of the Canterbury leaving Folkestone harbour.
Now this is a ship I can remember seeing regularly at Folkestone, it was the Cote D'Azur, built for the French National Railways in 1951.  It ran between Folkestone and Calais for many years, then from Dover to Calais.  She was sold in 1973 to Societe Anonyme Monegasque D'Armement et de Navigation (S.A.M.A.M.) Monaco, renamed Azur and again renamed Marie F. the same year.  The plan was to use her as a ferry between Monaco, Sardinia and Corsica, however, this didn't happen, and she was instead used as a casino ship in Monaco.  Later that same year she was laid up in Etang de Berre, Marseille, and in 1974 was sold to Jose Laborda Gonzales of Spain for breaking.
This is the same photo as further up the page, but in its original black & white format, cc 1890, and still looks like the Duchess of York to me.
Here is one going the other way, just leaving Boulogne Harbour.  Is it the same ship?  Very well could be, the funnels look the same don't they?
This card was postmarked 1936, and looks as if it might have been the Engadine, but if it was, the photo had to have been taken before 1933, because that was the year she was sold to the Phillippines and renamed Corregidor.
It's easy to read the name of the Brighton Queen on this ship, but I found it pretty hard to track down, as not much has been written about it.  However, I managed to find out that it was she was built by John Brown, Clydebank - 1905 for Barry Railway Co. (1905-1910) - Bristol Channel Passenger Boats Ltd (1910-1912)-Furness Railway (1912-1914)-W. H. Tucker (1918-1922)-P&A Campbell Ltd (1922-1940)  Previous Names: "Gwalia" (1905-1912) - "Lady Moyra" (1912-1933) - "Brighton Queen 11".

I am not sure where Folkestone fits into that history, this card was postmarked 1908.  According to the following, she didn't survive past 1915, unless she was re-built:  At two in the morning of October 6th, 1915, when mine-sweeping off Nieuport, she was about to head for Dunkirk when she struck a mine which exploded under her paddle-box. Boats were at once lowered from all the other ships, but seven lives were lost. Mine-sweeping during the hours of darkness always proved an intensely nerve-wracking and perilous operation. On different occasions long-distance torpedoes were fired at these paddlers while sweeping, and on this particular night several star-shells were discharged from the shore, brilliantly lighting up the ships and rendering them easily recognisable targets.
The loss of the Brighton Queen was a matter of peculiar regret. This excursion steamer had been the first paddler to be taken up in September 1914, and had during the following months assisted in the destruction of mines whose total value was much greater than her own. She had been the means of saving a considerable amount of shipping as well as many lives, and had been most busily employed in many parts of the North Sea — wherever, indeed, a new mine-field had to be swept up. As the Admiral in charge of the mine-sweepers remarked: " With mine below and bombs from above, in addition to torpedoes from submarines and heavy gunfire from the shore, these sweepers have so far borne somewhat of a charmed life which could hardly be expected to continue indefinitely." The Brighton Queen was called upon to pay the price.

Source:  HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR - THE MERCHANT NAVY, Volume 2, Summer 1915 to early 1917 (Part 2 of 2)
by Sir Archibald Hurd
The Canterbury had nice weather for the crossing on this day.
I bought another card the same as the one further up the page, and this time, with a magnifying glass, I can read that it definitely is the Duchess of York.
Unlike this one, that shows no name at Boulogne.  However, if I had to put money on it, I would opt for The Queen - or Onward, or possibly The Invicta.  Well, I did say I was no expert!  You notice the ship behind looks almost identical doesn't it, so that was probably one of these three too.
This one, also shown at Boulogne has me totally stumped.  All it says on the stern is Folkestone, and underneath that, London.  I haven't found another one that looks quite like this, so if you are a ferry expert, please get it touch.
Talking about cards that have had me stumped, I had almost given up on finding this paddle steamer listed anywhere, then I heard from Ian Boyle, who owns the website Simplon Postcards  and has a vast knowledge of ferries.  It turns out I was looking in the wrong places, because the S.S. Edward William was not a cross-channel ferry at all, this is what Ian tells me:  "S.S. Edward William was built by the South Eastern Railway in 1891 to run a ferry service across the Medway from Port Victoria to Sheerness, plus summer excursions on the South Coast running Folkestone-Deal-Ramsgate. The railway gave up excursions in 1908 and she was sold for use at Dubrovnik. Her name came from Edward William Watkins, Chairman of the railway. She had a sister Myleta."

Thank you SO much Ian - so now we know!

Entitled 'Going into Boulogne" circa 1900.  I don't know who the fellows were, but the one standing by the wheel looks a lot like King Edward V11, but then all men with a beard and moustache like that looked like King Edward V11 didn't they?  That being said, he did spend a lot of time in Folkestone, staying at the Grand Hotel with his mistress Alice Keppel - so maybe.......
Not certain which ferry this is, but might be The Onward.
Everyone was thrilled recently when they opened up the harbour arm to the public, but as you can see, back in 1908, the public were welcome to stroll down there and watch the ferries coming and going.  The difference is that the walkway now is where the railway lines once were, with no ferries to watch, and in 1908 they had no food kiosks or entertainment down there, except for the cafe for the ladies and bar for the men that they had for the convenience of the passengers.
Another photo of the Southern Railway's Isle of Thanet cross channel ferry.  Built in 1925 and scrapped in 1964
A hand coloured card of the Folkestone boat leaving Boulogne.
Paddle steamer Mabel Grace leaving Folkestone in 1907, and this card shows the coat of arms that Folkestone was using at the time.  The boat with the four heads is still used today, but I don't know the significance of it.  I have also tried to get a translation of the motto around it, without success.
Official blazon
Arms : Or, on a water barry wavy in base proper an ancient ship with four men's heads therein apparent as represented on the ancient seal of the borough of Folkestone, also proper; on a chief per pale gules and azure a demi lion passant guardant dimidiated with the hull of a ship gold.

Crest : On a Wreath Or and Azure, a demi double-headed eagle displayed sable, beaked Or, charged on the breast with a rose argent, barbed and seeded proper, dimidiated with a fleur-de-lys gold, and on each wing a ducal coronet also gold.

Supporters : On the dexter side a figure representing St. Eanswyth proper crowned with an ancient crown and holding on the exterior hand a pastoral staff Or, and on the sinister side a figure representing William harvey, the physician, also proper holding in the exterior hand a heart gules. Motto : ' SALUBRITAS ET AMOENITAS' - Healthiness and Delightfulness

The arms were officially granted on July 25, 1958 and transferred to the town council on November 30, 2007.
The vessel and crew are derived from that depicted on the ancient seal. The lion joined to a ship's hull refers to the town's connection to the Cinque Ports, it being a corporate member of Dover.
The black double headed eagle is from the attributed arms of Julius Caesar, who according to legend landed near Folkestone.
The supporters are St Eanswyth, the daughter of King Eadbald, and the founder Abbess of the first Nunnery in England, which was established at Folkestone. The other is Dr William Harvey who discovered the circulation of the blood who was born in Folkestone.

Picture and information gleaned from
Current Coat of Arms
Another nice photo of the Mabel Grace on her way out of the harbour, loaded with passengers
Ah now, the card on the left is very interesting because it says it is of the new pier, and you can see a fellow still working on the steps leading up to the new lighthouse.  The card was postmarked 1907, which gives us an approximate date of when the present day harbour arm and lighthouse came into existence.
I can't decide if the paddle steamer on the right is the Mabel Grace as well.  It looks very similar, but the port holes look a lot more prominent in this picture.  However, it has been hand coloured, so possibly the differences could be artistic license.
Disembarking passengers in Boulogne-sur-Mer trying to wade through the throng of passengers waiting to get onto the same ship.  I wonder if the dog was heading to Folkestone too?  The child holding him looks very young to be in uniform doesn't he?  These days we have dogs at points of travel to sniff out drugs, but I don't think that was much of a problem in 1917 was it?  Did they allow civilian passengers to travel across the channel during the first world war?  Possibly this photo was taken before the war, but was posted in 1917.
We may be nostalgic for the days of the turbine steamer ferries and the steam trains, but the air has to be a lot cleaner these days without them.  Just look at that black smoke belching out of those funnels, and that went on several times a day, with steam engines meeting them on both sides.  I dread to think of the colour of the dock worker's lungs.
Vlissingen, also known by the English name of Flushing in the Netherlands would bring the mail across from the continent.  Zeeland is the name of the Province, and also of this ship.
I normally buy postcards, but this photograph came up for sale, so I went for it, as it gives a lovely close look at the Vortigern.  Here is her history, gleaned from Vortigern was built as a dual car and train ferry in 1969 by Swan Hunter Shipbuilding, Wallsend (on the River Tyne). She worked as a car ferry in summer between Dover and Boulogne, and as a freight ferry in winter carrying freight wagons from Dover to Dunkerque. Vortigern ran aground off Oostende in 1982. In 1984 Sealink ownership passed to Sea Containers, with Vortigern running for Sealink British Ferries on the same routes. In 1987 and 1988 she covered on Fishguard-Rosslare, Newhaven-Dieppe, Folkestone-Boulogne and Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire, and also had a brief charter to Townsend Thoresen between Dover-Calais. Vortigern was sold to Lindos Line of Piraeus in 1988 and was renamed Milos Express. In 1999 Milos Express passed to Minoan Flying Dolphins, as the Express Milos with Hellas Ferries. In 2003 Express Milos was sold to the Saos Shipping Company as Nisos Lemnos, but went to Indian breakers in the following year, under the temporary name Lemon.
Looks like the Duchess of York again, this time heading back to Folkestone
From the old to the more modern.  This was the Princesse Astrid, chartered to Sealink, she was only on the Boulogne/Folkestone run for about a month in 1983
This view of a paddle steamer leaving the harbour gives us a good view of the pier, and the boat train.  I was watching an episode of 'The Chase' the other day, and Bradley Walsh said the difference between a boat and a ship is that you can fit a boat onto a ship, but you can't fit a ship onto a boat.  This may be true, but this 'ship' has lifeboats on board, and they call it the Boulogne boat, likewise, they always called the train the 'boat train', not the 'ship train'.  I am not going to lose any sleep over it though!
Peacetime sinking of two German Ships off Folkestone Friday May 31st 1878

German ironclad turret-ship Grosser Kurfürst (the Great Elector, meaning the Brandenburg Prince who was the founder of the kingdom of Prussia) was sunk off Folkestone by collision with a ship of the same squadron, the König Wilhelm.  Two hundred and eighty four of her men were drowned, or perhaps some of them were scalded to death, as her steam boilers seem to have burst while she sank, which took place within about nine minutes.

The squadron was three vessels, the König Wilhelm, Admiral's flagship, the Grosser Kurfürst, and the Preussen.  The Friedrich der Grosse had not yet joined the squadron while cruising in the British Channel.  The König Wilhelm, which was commanded by Captain Kuhace, is the largest ironclad in the German navy.  She was originally designed by Mr. E. J. Reed, C.B., M.P., when at the Admiralty, for the Sultan of Turkey, who
himself determined the length of the ship by fixing it at 365 ft. or one foot for each day in the year.  The name of the ship was at that time the Fetikh, and her construction was begun under the supervision of Mr. Reed and his overseers at the Thames Ironworks, Blackwall.  After a short time the Turkish Government found it inconvenient to continue payment of the instalments as they fell due upon the ship, and accepted an offer for her purchase for the German Government.  The construction and fitting of the ship were then withdrawn from English supervision, and placed under the care of German overseers, during the remainder of the building and fitting of the ship.  The name was also to changed to that of König Wilhelm.

To read the full story, as written in the Illustrated London News, and to see more pictures, click HERE
A nice one of the Flushing boat, dated 1928
This scan of the Flushing Line Nightboat Royal Mail Service was sent to me by René Hillesum, who has kindly sent me quite a few of these ships of the Netherlands.
Is that a little rowing boat between the steamer and the pier?  He's taking a bit of a chance isn't he?
No, this card isn't of a ferry, but it was bought and posted on one.  The mail boats obviously took passengers too, because like the Folkestone/Boulogne ferries you could buy a card and post it on board.  This card was sent to Austria, Bohemia, which tells you it had to be posted before the first World War, and it was indeed posted in 1912.  It's thanks to René Hillesum for this one too!
The Maid of Orleans leaving Folkestone in 1971
A nice one of the Onward in 1913, before she was sabotaged right there in the harbour.
The next six photos were sent to me by Seán Robertson, and are probably the closest we can get to 'now' photos.  They are all of Meridian's 'Spirit of Independence', formerly 'Innisfallen'.  Seán tells me he used to sail on her when she operated on the Irish sea, and when he heard she was going to be operating in Folkestone, he drove down to see her, and took these photos.  I don't know how long she was there, but I suspect not very long.
This one says 'Arriving for berthing trials in 1995'
Thank you very much Seán, these are great photos!
Sadly this is the only ship I have seen moored against the harbour arm during my last few visits.  In 2011 I took this photo of the 'Anglian Monarch' Coastguard tug.  Will Folkestone ever see the larger ferries again?  They tell me probably not, as the harbour has silted up, and is no longer deep enough for them, and as the arm has been converted into a pedestrian area for food and entertainment, it would cost a lot of money to put all the necessary buildings etc. back in place.  The railway lines are in the process of being removed, and the viaduct across the harbour is destined to be a pedestrian walkway.  Plans are also in the works to build housing right on the harbour, so phoenix will rise again from the ashes, but with completely new feathers.
This used to be Folkestone's 'Hengist', sister ship of the 'Horsa'.  After a spell as the 'Agios Georgios', she was sold to Ventouris Sea Lines, and became 'Panagia Tinou'.  The company ran into financial trouble, and was seized by the Greek government, moored up in the Port of Paraeus, where in April, 2016 she suddenly started to keel over.  There was no crew on board at the time.  They managed to bring her up slightly, and removed the immediate danger of fuel leakage, but last photo I saw, which was at Christmas 2016, she was still in the same place, with a definite list to one side.  Apparently, it will cost more to move her than she is worth, so while the haggle about money continues, there she stays.

Her sister, the 'Horsa', was also sold to a Greek company, and after a couple of other changes of hands, she ended up the 'Penelope A' for the Agoudimos Lines.  Financial difficulties again, and she ended up in 2014 being towed to lay up in Elefsis bay where she has remained ever since.  However, as they were built in 1972, that is a pretty long life for a ferry in daily use.
Have since been told by Duncan Mirylees, who wrote giving me a very entertaining history lesson,  that this pic is from a coloured lithograph, one of a number done by Frederick Mitchell, and the ship was built in 1878.  Duncan also told me that this ship was actually launched for the Brazilian Navy as 'Indepencia', but because of (yet another) war scare with that lot to the east of Poland (sound familiar?) was taken over by HM Navy instead.  She was rubbish mainly because the Brazilians had different ideas about how they wanted her armed and rigged.  We went overboard - and backwards.  Like all, bar one, ships in the Victorian Navy, she never fired a shot in anger.  The only memorable thing she ever did was to collide with H.M.S. Victory whilst on her way to the knackers yard!  I have directly quoted from Duncan's e-mail, I told you it was entertaining.  Think we should get him to write up the whole page? LOL!