Vol 13 No 5 T S Hampton Ferry

Non-Hampton & Richmond Borough related posts.
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Things you may not know, or didn’t know you knew!

The ship! Not our local ferry

In a book on the history of British Railways I came across a reference to a ship called the TS Hampton Ferry and, of course, investigated. Three Ferries were built named, Hampton, Shepperton and Twickenham for the cross-channel service.

TS Hampton Ferry was built at the Swann Hunter Shipyard and launched at Wallsend in July 1934 and commenced service in October 1936, with the other two ships, carrying either 12 Sleeping Cars or 40 Goods Wagons. Passengers boarded at London Victoria for the sea voyage from Dover to Dunkirk and arrived at Gare Du Nord, having had a night’s sleep and breakfast in the morning. The Sleeping Cars were chained to the deck and the passengers were locked in the cars (which could have had disastrous implications in the event of an emergency). Also, in those days, waste discharged straight onto the tracks from toilets on railway carriages which meant, back then, the deck would have needed to have been regularly hosed down – not a good look!

When WWII was declared the ferry service was suspended so, another use had to be found for TS Hampton as well as its sister ships. In August 1939 the Navy converted the ship to a Minelayer and it was commissioned at Portsmouth as HMS Hampton. In its first few days on active service almost 300 mines were laid off Dover. In March 1940 the ship was graced with a visit by King George V and he was shown how a mine was laid (using a dummy mine, not a real one).

HMS Hampton took part in the efforts to bring back troops from the beaches of Dunkirk and narrowly missed being attacked by bombers fortunately sailing into a convenient bank of fog.

Photo; Roy Thornton

Given its original name back again Hampton Ferry operated for much of the Second World War between Stranraer and Larne as a troop carrier but also took part in the D-Day operations.

After the war, the ship went back to its previous role as a ferry operating out of Dover, once again, as a train ferry. In 1969 the ship was sold to a company based in Bermuda.

TS Hampton Ferry ended its days in Valencia where it was scrapped in 1973, after 37 years of service, having carried out vital work during WWII

The Old Historian
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