Holyhead Ferry I / Earl Leofric
& Dover / Earl Siward

Dover is seen approaching Boulogne in the pre-1972 British Rail livery of 'monastral blue' hull, white superstructure, grey masts and red funnel (with the famous 'double arrow' insignia). The 'Sealink' brand name was later applied in large sans-serif white lettering to the hull.
Photo: © Ted Ingham.

Like the French car ferries of 1965/6, these two vessels were originally built as stern only loaders. The first was Holyhead Ferry I, delivered, as her unimaginative name would suggest, to the Holyhead/Dun Laoghaire (near Dublin) route for British Rail. Her similar sister, Dover, made her debut on the Dover/Boulogne service. Although hard to differentiate externally, Holyhead Ferry I featured cabin accommodation which reduced her vehicle capacity in comparison with Dover. Unlike the modern French vessels of that time, British Railís technical director insisted on continuing with expensive and obsolete steam turbine propulsion for its two new ships rather than switch to more efficient diesel engines found in Chantilly, for example.

As British Rail adopted the Sealink brand name in the 1970's, so its emphasis changed on its 'short sea' routes from Dover. Sailings to Calais were increased at the expense of Boulogne and to facilitate this it was decided to transfer Holyhead Ferry I from the Irish Sea and operate her opposite Dover. She had already spent considerable periods swapping routes with her half sister in order to better cater for demand from traffic. Both vessels were converted to 'drive through' ferries with the cutting of bow visors into their prows. They were inaugurated on the Dover/Calais service under the new names of Earl Leofric and Earl Siward respectively.

The pair lasted until the late delivery of St. Anselm and St. Christopher in 1980/1. They were an embarrassment to Sealink when they were latterly operating in competition with Townsend Thoresens' 'Spirit Class' vessels. They simply looked totally out dated compared with the new rival tonnage in service. Earl Siward can still be found in British waters, in the inauspicious role of a floating night club moored on the Tyne. She is now Tuxedo Royale. Her sister met an untimely fate with the breakers in Spain at only sixteen years of age, demonstrating how out-of-date her she was in design.

T. S. Dover
Builder: Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Limited, Newcastle, England.
Yard number: 2,013.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 112.48 x 16.79 x 4.11 metres.
Tonnages (gross, deadweight) 3,640, 818.
Engines: Four Parsons turbines.
Power: 8,827 kW.
Speed (knots): 19.5.
Passenger certificate: 850.
Car capacity: 205.

17.3.1965: Launched.
6.1965: Delivered to British Transport Commission, Southern Region, London.
6.6.1965: Arrived at Dover.
9.1965: Entered service Dover/Boulogne.
22.5.1970: Holyhead/Dun Laoghaire (near Dublin) summer service.
1977: Sent to Aalborg Verft, Aalborg, Denmark for conversion to drive-through capability.
1.7.1978: Renamed Earl Siward.
1.1.1979: Registered for Sealink U.K. Limited
1981: Laid up at Newhaven.
25.11.1981: Sold to Sol Ferries Limited, Limassol, Cyprus. Renamed Sol Express.
1986: Sold to Quadrini Group, Chanson Lines Limited.
6.3.1986: Left Limassol for Newcastle.
18.4.1986: Arrived at Newcastle. Converted for use as a floating night club. Renamed Tuxedo Royale.

T. S. Holyhead Ferry I
Builder: Hawthorn Leslie Shipbuilders Limited, Newcastle, England.
Yard number:
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 112.47 x 17.43 x 3.81 metres.
Tonnages (gross, deadweight) 3,879, 1,461.
Engines: Two Hawthorn Leslie turbines.
Speed (knots): 19.5.
Passenger certificate: 1,000. After conversion: 725.
Car capacity: 150. After conversion: 205.

17.2.1965: Launched.
7.1965: Delivered to British Transport Commission, London Midland Region, London.
19.7.1965: Entered service Holyhead/Dun Laoghaire (near Dublin).
1.1976: Sent to Swan Hunter Ship repairers Tyne Limited For conversion to drive-through capability. 9.1976: Renamed Earl Leofric.
25.9.1976: Entered service Dover/Calais.
17.12.1980: Laid up at Newhaven.
30.5.1981: Sold to Desguaces Aviles, San Esteban de Pravia, Spain for scrap.

Here the former Dover is found in her next guise as Earl Siward. She is off service receiving maintenance work at British Rail's own ship repair depot in Holyhead.
Photo: © Pieter Inpyn.