Photo:Compeigne pictured in 1959

Compeigne pictured in 1959

M. W. Hills

Photo:Normannia on the East Quay

Normannia on the East Quay

M. W. Hills

Some more unusual ferries not often seen in the port

By John Hills

Here a couple of pictures of rarer ferry visitors to the port.

The first shows the  Compeigne  pictured leaving the port in 1959, she was built in 1958 and was the first French car ferry on the Dover - Calais route and finished service in 1981. She only spent a very short time on relief duty on the Newhaven - Dieppe route.

The second shows the  Normannia  berthed on the East Quay in about 1967, she was built in 1952 for the Southampton - Le Harve service. In 1962 she was taken to Tyneside and converted to a stern-loading car ferry together with the " Falaise ".

The Normannia re-entered service on the Dover - Calais route in 1964 and finally withdrawn from service in 1978.

This page was added by John Hills on 21/03/2008.
Comments about this page

Compiegne would most certainly have been an unusual visitor in 1959, as there was no car ferry ramp at the time. Maybe a 'show-off' visit?

She was in fact the very first car ferry to use our ramp, calling in for a trial docking one afternoon in early 1964, prior to the arrival of Falaise very soon after.

As John says, she only ran here for a few days. Long enough to discover that she was a bit too long for the old ramp and berth at Dieppe and not that good at manouevering. Rapidly replaced by the Chantilly, an almost exact sister to our two French V-boats.

By Andy Gilbert
On 22/03/2008

Normannia was actually a 'regular'. She would often stand in for Falaise in the early days of the car ferry service, usually when 'Big F' had scraped the quay, dented her bow rudder or whatever. And she would usually over-winter here at Newhaven, when not needed on the Dover run.

When replaced by later and bigger vessels, she was surplus to requirements but gained an extension of her twilight years in 1974, when Falaise succumbed to terminal boiler failure on the Channel Islands run.

I'm biased perhaps, but I always thought Falaise to be the better looking vessel, before and after conversion to a car ferry.

By Andy Gilbert
On 22/03/2008

Hi Andy, Here is a extract from the Normannia service log as you see there is no mention of her doing any  " regular " service at Newhaven, so I assumed she did not spend a lot of active time here...

"""" The Normannia was built in 1952 for services from Southampton to Le Havre, replacing the Hantonia. She achieved 20.62 knots on trials. In 1953 Normannia spent two months at Harwich replacing the damaged Duke of York. In October 1962 she was replaced by the St Patrick  and was taken to the Tyne to be rebuilt as a stern-loading car ferry, along with the Falaise. She could carry 111 cars and a reduced capacity of 500 passengers. Normannia did not re-enter service until April 1964, now based at Dover/Folkestone. In 1965 Normannia inaugurated car ferry services at Holyhead when Holyhead Ferry I was delivered late. In 1968 she was registered to SNCF for the summer Dover-Calais services. She returned to BR in October 1968. In June 1972 she had a brief charter to Townsend for Dover-Zeebrugge service. The following summer Normannia again transferred to French registry for SNCF services, before returning to BR and running services from Weymouth to the Channel Islands and Cherbourg. She was again based in Weymouth for the 1975 season, followed by a season at Dover in 1977, leaving in January 1978. Following some relief work at Weymouth, Normannia was withdrawn in May 1978. She was sold to Red Sea Ferries of Dubai, but was broken up at Gijon without entering service. """""

Source freely available at:-


From  John

By John Hills
On 25/03/2008

Nothing incorrect about the info from Simplon Postcards, John, but it's only a potted history, and doesn't mention all her relief work, or where she spent her layup time. Few sites do, though I'm working with the Dover Ferry Photos site and, boy, are they thorough! It took us two weeks research just to find out the original paint job on Falaise!


By Andy Gilbert
On 25/03/2008

I must agree with Andy Gilbert, the Normania ran on our Ferry service many times when the Falaise ran into trouble or went for a refit. Over a period of nine years that we had the Falaise, I was on her as a fireman and in later years as a greaser. Also one year we took the Falaise to Holyhead for a refit and the Newhaven crew sailed the Normania to Calais, in a force 12 gale.

By Mick Cutler
On 17/04/2009

Whilst looking through a cupboard I came across the 25th edition of the Sealink News, summer 1979. My brother, Chief Engineer Brian Saunders, who also took most of the photos, was part of the crew who took the 'Normannia' to Gijon, along with Captain Jarvis. He often sailed on the ship from Newhaven.

By Diane Ruff
On 19/06/2010

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