Improved capacity but lost her clean lines

By Stephen Morris

The Villandry and Valencay brought modern design and diesel engines to the route in 1965 phasing out the steam turbine passenger ships.

The Villandry commenced her service on the Newhaven-Dieppe route in May 1965. After the relative silence of a steam turbine engine, the diesel throb of these ships was a noticeable innovation.

The decision was made to lengthen the ships in order to increase vehicle capacity and this was carried out on the Villandry at Le Havre in 1976. Lorry capacity was doubled to 20 vehicles.

When the V ships were lengthened and provided with bow doors, they lost their sleek neat appearance with a top hat added to the funnel, the straight lines of windows on the side of the ships now had a dip, and the bow had this strange pair of what looked like dining tables perched above the waterline either side of the bow door on the Villandry!  She lost her rear bridge at this time as well.

The Villandry made her last trip on the route in April,1982.

After various charter roles for Sealink and SNCF on different routes, she was sold to Greek owners in 1984. She changed hands and names as the Olympia and Delos, until she was eventually scrapped in 1998.

The Valencay lasted longer than her sister-ship, moving to Greek ownership in 1984, first as Eptanisos and later as Pollux.  She was scrapped in 2003 after a respectable 38 years of service.

Photo:Going astern into harbour

Going astern into harbour

Photo:Bird's eye view from the fort

Bird's eye view from the fort

Photo:Her new lines after refit

Her new lines after refit

Photo:Dining tables on the bow?

Dining tables on the bow?

Photo:The altered window line due to the raised internal layout

The altered window line due to the raised internal layout

This page was added by Stephen Morris on 03/04/2016.
Comments about this page

They weren't so much lengthened as heightened, Stephen. The roof of the vehicle deck from the foremost lifeboat towards the stern was raised by just over half a metre, doubling the freight capacity from 10 to 20 lorries as you say. As drive through ships, they were able to cut the turnaround times in port, as freight vehicles no longer had to reverse on or off. I don't think they altered the timetables because of this, but it would have given them a chance to make up time if there were delays due to weather.

And yes, I agree that they looked much sleeker in their original appearance. That step up in the windows always looked odd. Great workhorses and the mainstays of the route from 1965 to 1973, but the heavy 'diesel thump' from their Pielstick main engines could be heard for miles on a calm summer's day.

By Andy Gilbert
On 06/04/2016

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