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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.  However, when I was there, there was talk about bringing them back. I really hope they do, Folkestone has suffered enough since they built the Channel Tunnel.
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 £4.7s.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' 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 wouldn't even have been 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.
Here is a picture of the Hengist, sister ship of the Horsa when she was not quite so land locked!
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.
Thist is  the SS Engadine leaving Folkestone in 1925, she was the sister ship of the Riviera, which the South Eastern & Chatham Railway brought into service in 1911, seeing off the last of the English paddle steamers.

I am amazed, now that I have gathered all these ferry photos together just how many there were over the years - and I probably don't have all of them either!
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
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This page updated May 20, 2007
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'.
Was 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!
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.
Embarking onto the Folkestone boat in Boulogne.  I wonder if the dog was travelling too?
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
I have just added a closer photo of this incident at the bottom of the page
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.

There are sailing days coming up from Chatham in July. "
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: