This limited edition publication attempts to cover new ground by detailing for the first time the place of the cargo steamers within the growth and development of the ports of Dover and Folkestone. Roll on – roll off traffic and containerisation effectively killed them off and their role within the general scheme of cross-Channel services is now consigned to history.
In spite of their rather low-profile existence, the sturdy little cargo ships were far from characterless and were always much admired by those who sailed them. Their stories are full of incident and they played a significant part during both major twentieth century conflicts, some sadly never to return to these shores.
The profusely illustrated book follows the operation of the rival Victorian cargo fleets of the 1870s and the the improvement in tonnage during the South Eastern & Chatham’s period of management. In 1923 the Southern Railway was formed and introduced the successful ‘Town’ class. The book concludes by charting the decline of the post war Folkestone – Boulogne service run by British Railways.
The cargo steamers were the unsung heroes of the Dover Strait and in order to deliver their merchandise to the morning markets in London and Paris, frequently operated at night and from rather remote places within their respective harbours. It is difficult to believe that the ships which today ply the Dover – Calais route are linked to the diminutive Victorian merchandise steamers that some 140 years ago scuttled their way across the Dover Strait through fair weather and foul.
Due to be published mid-December 2018 – available to pre-order.