Valencay & Villandry

The distinctive funnel of Chantilly can be appreciated in this view of her as she approaches Dover (note the courtesy 'Red Duster' being flown from her foremast).
Photo: © Simon Lee.

In 1965, S. N. C. F. introduced the twins, Valencay and Villandry to the Newhaven/Dieppe service which was, at the time, operated on a joint basis with British Rail. They were built simultaneously by rival shipyards in Nantes. They were a remarkable pair of vessels, representing a huge advance in design compared with the elderly converted passenger steamer, Falaise. However, unlike Thoresen's superb 'Viking' ships, they were not fitted with a bow visor. It was not until 1976 that they were converted to 'drive through' ferries.

A modified sister, Chantilly, was delivered to the Dover/Calais route in 1966. She operated opposite the very first French car ferry, Compiegne (of 1958). Like the Dieppe twins, she had a bow door cut around the same time to facilitate simple 'roll-on roll-off' loading and unloading. Compared with British Rail's old fashioned looking Dover, the French demonstrated a flare for the sleek, streamlined modern design embodied in Chantilly and her earlier sisters. Valencay and Villandry were to survive nineteen years at Newhaven before they were sold to Greek shipping companies, the latter being scrapped in 1997. Chantilly was transferred from Dover to take their place. Her demise was sealed upon the arrival of Versailles in 1987.

M. S. Villandry and Valencay
Builder: Dubigeon-Normandie S. A., Nantes, France and Chantiers de Atlantique, Nantes, France.
Yard number: 809 and E23.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 104.86 x 17.68 x 4.2 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 3,433, 1,401, 668.
Engines: Two 16 cylinder, Pielstick diesel.
Power: 9,106 kW.
Speed (knots): 21.
Passenger certificate: 1,200.
Car capacity: 180.

20.11.1964: Villandry launched.
5.1965: Delivered to Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, Dieppe.
16.5.1965: Entered service Dieppe/Newhaven.
12.1975: Sent to Ateliers et Chantiers, Le Havre, for raising vehicle deck by 56 centimetres and cutting of bow visor.
9.4.1977: Returned to service.
10.1982: Laid up at Calais.
8.1984: Sold to Agapitos Bros., Piraeus, Greece. Renamed Olympia.
1986: Sold to Ionian Lines Shipping, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed Delos.
1997: Sold to Equester Shipping Company N.V., Kingstown, St Vincent. Scrapped.

6.2.1965: Valencay launched.
18.6.1965: Arrived at Dieppe.
21.6.1965: Delivered to Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, Dieppe, France.
13.7.1965: Entered service Dieppe/Newhaven.
1977: Returned to builders for partial raising of vehicle deck by 56 centimetres and cutting of bow visor.
2.1978: Returned to service.
9.1984: Laid up at Calais.
1985: Sold to Strintzis Lines S. A. Piraeus, Greece. Renamed Eptanisos.
5.2000: Sold to Ventouris Ferries, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed Pollux.
2003: Registered in Panama. Renamed Pollux I.

M. S. Chantilly
Builder: Dubigeon-Normandie S. A., Nantes, France.
Yard number: 822.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 109.91 x 17.84 x 4 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 3,255, 1,559, 640. After conversion: 5,691, 1,707, 925.
Engines: Two 12 cylinder, Pielstick diesel.
Power: 6,988 kW.
Speed (knots): 20.
Passenger certificate: 1,350.
Car capacity: 190.

9.11.1965: Launched.
6.5.1966: Delivered to Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, Calais.
2.7.1966: Entered service Calais/Dover.
12.1975: Sent to Chantiers Caillard, Le Havre for conversion to drive-through capability.
23.6.1976: Returned to service.
5.8.1982: Collided with Cote d' Azur at Calais. Out of service for repairs.
6.4.1986: Transferred to Dieppe/Newhaven.
22.4.1987: Sold to Olympiad Maritime Company, Piraeus, Greece (Agapitos Bros. Ferries). Renamed Olympia.
17.5.1990: Sold to Winston Shipping Limited, Nassau, Bahamas. Renamed Europa Link.
27.1.1993: Sold to Plough Navigation Inc. Monrovia, Liberia. Renamed Baltavia.
14.4.1996: Sold to El Salam Shipping & Trading Establishment, Alexandria, Egypt. Renamed El Salam 93.

At Newhaven a relatively new Valencay is found at the berth. This view would date before 1973 when the 'Sealink' trademark was introduced to the hulls of the railway-owned fleet. Dieppe vessels featured buff coloured funnels (as opposed to red) and a flag emblem denoting the Anglo/French joint service.
Photo: © Ted Ingham.

Here Valencay navigates the tight confines of the River Ouse at Newhaven on an afternoon arrival from Dieppe. Note that she now has a bow visor, her anchors having been relocated further along her hull. Her passenger accommodation is also somewhat higher for most of her length due to an increase in her vehicle deck headroom created at the same time as her conversion to 'drive-through' operation. Her funnel also had some extensions added to it too.
Photo: Ferry Fantastic Collection.

Here Chantilly arrives at Dover Western Docks in a 1985 scene. Behind her the bow end of St. David can be seen (this vessel was employed on a short-lived British-flagged service to Oostende that year).
Photo: © Brian Fisher.