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Name: TRAIN FERRY NO 1
Type: Train Ferry
Launched: 03/08/1917
Completed: 11/1917
Builder: Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd
Yard: Low Walker
Yard Number: 921
Dimensions: 2683grt, 1085nrt, 350.6 x 58.7 x 15.5ft
Engines: 2 x T3cyl (18, 29 & 47 x 27ins), 403nhp
Engines by: Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd, Wallsend
Propulsion: 2 x Screws, 12.0knots
Construction: Steel
Reg Number: 145233
History:
11/1917 War Office (British Army)
1921 Port of Queenborough Development Co Ltd, London
1923 Great Eastern Train Ferries Ltd, London
1934 London & North-Eastern Railway, London
09/1940 British Royal Navy; renamed IRIS
09/1942 Renamed PRINCESS IRIS
06/1946 London & North-Eastern Railway, London; renamed ESSEX FERRY
01/01/1948 British Transport Commission, Harwich
1956 Renamed ESSEX FERRY II
26/02/1957 Broken up
Comments: Designed to help alleviate the bottlenecks at the Channel ports during WW1.
Conventional ships were loaded with all sorts of heavy and bulky war materiel and then unloaded after a very short journey by sea. Roll-on roll-off train ferries were seen as a way round this problem. They were designed to be used from the new Military Port of Richborough in Kent but started service between Southampton and Dieppe as Richborough was not complete.
The War Office ordered three vessels despite the objections of the Admiralty about being a waste of time and effort and that they would not provide the service required. All the objections were disproved in practice and the first vessel entered service 11 months after Cabinet approval had been given for the project.
They had four sets of rails along the train deck & used a link span to load when in harbour. The greatest vindication for the design was the carriage of two siege guns each weighing 189 tons that were rolled onto the normal cargo deck.
Armed with 5 x 1 x 20mm guns
All three were laid up after 1922
1923: Used on the Harwich and Zeebrugge (and briefly to Calais) service
1941: Converted to a Landing Craft Carrier, the twin funnels were incorporated into a single stack. Capable of carrying 14 landing craft in the train deck (launched via a stern chute) and 4 more by crane on the upper deck. She spent most of her time ferrying landing craft to southern ports. After the Normandy invasion, she ferried damaged craft back to the UK. In August 1944 she was re-converted to carry locomotives from Southampton to Cherbourg and Dieppe, but by 1945 she was again ferrying landing craft.
1946: Returned to the Harwich and Zeebrugge service
26/02/1957: Broken up by TW Ward at Grays, Essex


Above: One of the 3 ferries in 1919 showing that they could be used for road transport as well as trains

Above: TRAIN FERRY NO 1 in position on the Richborough link span

Above photo as TRAIN FERRY NO 1 at Harwich between the Wars

Above photo as HMS PRINCESS IRIS with single funnel courtesy of Photoship

Above photo as HMS PRINCESS IRIS with single funnel courtesy of Photoship

Above photo as ESSEX FERRY at Palmers' for post war modifications. Photo courtesy of Kevin Blair

Above photo as ESSEX FERRY II courtesy of Richard Cox