Photo:The French banana carrier DJUNGO that brought cargoes of West African fruit to Newhaven.

The French banana carrier DJUNGO that brought cargoes of West African fruit to Newhaven.

Peter Lamb

Photo:SUSSEX QUEEN - here seen alongside Poole Quay on a refuelling call.

SUSSEX QUEEN - here seen alongside Poole Quay on a refuelling call.

Poole Maritime Trust

Photo:A FAIRMILE PASSENGER LAUNCH - some sported funnels.

A FAIRMILE PASSENGER LAUNCH - some sported funnels.

Peter Lamb

Pleasure boats and paddle steamers.

By Peter Lamb



Whilst I have never lived in Newhaven it has featured a lot in my life. As a boy I lived in Southampton and loved the docks and ships so it was with great delight I visited Newhaven in 1963 to see the wonderful Cross Channel steamers coming and going. The purpose for my visit was to go aboard the old paddle steamer CONSUL  that was owned by friends of the family and based at Newhaven for the summer, undertaking a series of coastal cruises from Brighton and Eastbourne. These cruises were spectacularly unsuccessful due to serious mechanical issues that bugged this 1896 built veteran.

A few years later I worked for the banana importing company of ELDERS & FYFFES (later known as FYFFES GROUP). I was based in Southampton but when that port was unable to cope with cargoes owing to unavailability of labour or strikes, ships were rostered to discharge in Newhaven. This practice took place from the late 1960’s to, around, 1980. Mainly cargoes came from the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Surinam and Jamaica. There were a large number of ships of various shapes and sizes involved in the trade. Our agents, at Newhaven, were Fisher Duforest, later known as James Fisher.

It was not unusual to spend three or four days at a time at the port. In the early days my colleagues and I stayed at the MERCURY MOTEL that was located off the Seaford Road. Latterly, for reasons of convenience and ambience we transferred our allegiance to  the Yacht Club located opposite the commercial discharge berth. The club was run by (I guess) a husband and wife team with a dog called Bosun ! The accommodation was very comfortable and the food excellent.  When excess sea conditions prevailed it was not unusual for a ship to be unable to berth and days were also lost to inclement weather. In these instances we explored the area and I was very impressed with Seaford seafront. Being a ship enthusiast the busy harbour was of considerable interest to me and it was lovely to see some of the old BR ships laid up or soldiering on !

Now retired I am very much involved with maritime history and, in particular, the smaller coastal passenger ships that used to operate around our coasts. I wonder if any reader can assist with any information, ephemera or photographs of any of these interesting vessels that, either, operated or visited Newhaven since WW2.

Ex RN “FAIRMILE B” launches were introduced to the Sussex Coast in the late 1940’s /early 1950’s. I have already seen reference to the JOHN McCLEOD but wonder if anyone can add to this or have and information  on “DUNKIRK” or “ANZIO”. I know there a couple more that came over from the Channel Islands.


 Paddle steamers – the list is rather long : “FRESHWATER”, “SUSSEX QUEEN” (1961), “CONSUL” (1963), “RYDE”, “SANDOWN”, “WHIPPINGHAM”, “RYDE”, “WAVERLEY”


I will be very appreciative of any input in respect of the above PLUS any photographs of the banana ships from that fascinating and busy period in the historic port.


Thanking you,

PETER LAMB – Now residing in Bournemouth.

This page was added by Peter Lamb on 10/01/2017.
Comments about this page

Banana boats? Oh yes, there were lots of them, including plenty of the E&F/United Fruits vessels.

However, there aren't that many photos of them on the site, something that I shall rectify forthwith! In the meantime, here are a couple:

You could also sign up to and view their galleries, which include most of their ships.

Re: The Cresta Yacht Club. Yes, it was run by a husband and wife (and dog!) team. Arthur Dudman was the gentleman's name, I can't recall his wife's first name at present. I was the resident organist there from 1974 through to 1978 and spent many a happy Saturday evening playing the organ while watching the ships come and go.

Freshwater, Ryde, Sandown and Whippingham never actually ran from Newhaven, but they did come here every year for a refit and a repaint, and often spent the winter months hibernating at the Railway Quay! There are photos of them on the site. Waverley has been an occasional visitor over the years.


By Andy Gilbert
On 11/01/2017

I can remember going on the Anzio to Brighton with my family, gran's, aunt's, uncle's, cousin's my two brothers, mum and dad. I am sure we went more than once. It was a great day out, it must have been the late fifties, I am sure it was before I started work.  

By Terry Howard
On 21/01/2017

We had a trailer at Peacehaven and would walk along the cliffs to Newhaven, board 'The Anzio' which would drop us off at the end of Palace Pier in Brighton, we would then take the bus back to Peacehaven, this was in the middle 50's.  I remember many trips on this lovely little boat, have often wondered what happened to her.

By Peta MacKenzie
On 02/01/2019

I have discovered, both, the "MATAPAN" & "DUNKIRK" were based on the Sussex Coast in 1951. Does anyone have any images or memories of either of these two boats, please ?

By Peter Lamb
On 16/02/2020

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