Train Ferry No. 1 / Essex Ferry

Train Ferry No. 1, as Essex Ferry (c. G.Robinson) Train Ferry No. 1 (c. G.Robinson)


1917 The War Office
1921 Port of Queenborough Development Co. Ltd.
1923 Great Eastern Train Ferries Ltd.
1934 LNER
06/1940 The Admiralty - Royal Navy
06/1946 LNER
1948 British Transport Commission


Rail wagons only.


Harwich - Zeebrugge


Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. Ltd., Low Walker, Newcastle (yard no. 921)
Launched 03/08/1917  Completed 11/1917


GRT: 2683

Length: 350.6ft.

Beam: 58.7 ft.

Engine builder

Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co. Ltd., Wallsend


2 x 3cyl. steam engines, 18", 29", 47" x 27", twin screws, 403NHP


Built for the War Office service between Richborough and French ports, taken over by the Port of Queenborough Development Company and then by the Great Eastern Train Ferries Ltd., which relocated the service to run between Harwich and Zeebrugge (and briefly to Calais). The service was taken over by the LNER in 1934.
From September 1939, she was requisitioned for military movements between Harwich and Calais, comprising ambulance trains and road vehicles. In June 1940 she took part in evacuations from the Channel Islands to Southampton.

Purchased by the Admiralty in late June 1940, she was converted to a Landing Ship capable of carrying 14 landing craft in the train deck (launched via a stern chute) and 4 more by crane on the upper deck. Commissioned as HMS IRIS in April 1941, changing to HMS PRINCESS IRIS in September 1942, she spent most of her time ferrying landing craft to southern ports. After the Normandy invasion, she ferried damaged craft back to the U.K. In August 1944 she was re-converted to carry locomotives from Southampton to Cherbourg and Dieppe, but by 1945 she was again ferrying landing craft, until released in May 1946 when she was re-sold to the LNER.

This brought a change of name to ESSEX FERRY and she resumed the Harwich - Zeebrugge train ferry service. Her name was altered to ESSEX FERRY II in 1956 in order to release the name to her successor, and she was broken up at Grays in 1957 after an eventful career.


Compiled by George Robinson.