GER's Maritime Services
In 1863 a Bill was passed by Parliament which enabled the GER to start a ferry service between Harwich and the Low Countries (Rotterdam, Holland and Antwerp, Belgium). Initially, to avoid any delay, three steamers were chartered for the service but orders were soon placed for four bespoke paddle steamers; such was the success that another paddle steamer was built in 1865. Some years later, a new service to Esbjerg, Denmark was introduced. Following some disputes with the harbour authorities at Harwich a new GER facility was built nearby, this was called Parkeston Quay, named after GER Chairman, CH Parkes. A new branch and quayside station were built. In 1904, the Dutch service started calling at the Hook of Holland to enable passengers to shorten their journey time. In due course, the paddle steamers were replaced by screw propulsion vessels; a long association with Earles Shipbuilders of Hull, ensued.
In time, other shipping lines started using Parkeston Quay.
Another, rather different maritime service was also introduced along the River Orwell calling at Ipswich, Harwich and Felixstowe.
On the outbreak of the First World War, the entire GER fleet was commandeered by the Admiralty and it suffered some severe losses during the war. After the war new vessels were built or otherwise acquired.
The well known train ferry service from Harwich Dockyard did not commence until 1924, after the GER had become absorbed by the LNER.
Thank you to Richard Barron for the above information.