TSS Canterbury (1929)

TSS Canterbury was a ferry built in 1929 to link the Golden Arrow and La Flèche d'Or trains to form the prestige LondonDoverCalaisParis service.[2]

TSS Canterbury (1929)
HMS Canterbury FL7489.jpg
As HMS Canterbury in wartime service
  • 1929–1939: TSS Canterbury[1]
  • 1940–1945: HMS Canterbury
  • 1946–1965: TSS Canterbury
Owner: 1929–1942: Southern Railway
Builder: William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton
Yard number: 1218
Launched: 13 December 1928
Identification: 161199
Fate: Broken up 1 August 1965
General characteristics
Type: Turbine Steel Steamship
Length: 329.6 ft (100.5 m)
Beam: 47.1 ft (14.4 m)
Draught: 12.0 ft (3.7 m)
Depth: 16.9 ft (5.2 m)
Propulsion: 2 screw
Speed: 22 kn (41 km/h; 25 mph)


The ship was built as first class only passenger ferry by William Denny & Bros of Dumbarton, Scotland for the Southern Railway.


The ship entered service simultaneously with the Golden Arrow rail service.[2] At this time she was first class only, and while having a capacity of 1700, her projected loadings were expected to be less than 400.[2]

The ship was modified to accommodate two classes of passengers from May 1931, at the same time third class carriages were introduced to the Golden Arrow train.[2]

Following the Golden Arrow's last trip after the declaration of the Second World War Canterbury was converted to a troop ship.[2] On 29 May 1940 after departing the east pier at Dunkirk at 16:50 with 1960 troops Canterbury was badly damaged by a bomb near miss but was able to reach Dover.[2][3] Following repairs she continued with the evacuation on 3 June 1940 completing five trips for the evacuation.[2][4] She then performed some sailings from Southampton evacuations to Normandy and Brittany until the middle of June before resting on the River Dart and serving as a target practice ship of the Fleet Air Arm and a period on the StranraerLarne route.[1]

From June 1942 she undertook an eight-month conversion to a troop landing ship and took part in the June 1944 Normandy landings.[1][4]

Postwar she initially returned to the Golden Arrow service but was replaced in October 1946 by the Southern Railways flagship SS Invicta following that ship's refurbishment.[4] Canterbury served on the Folkstone–Calais run, and in 1948 moved to the Calais–Boulogne route until retirement in 1964. Canterbury was the first English Channel ferry to be equipped with radar in 1948.[4]


The ship was broken up in 1965.


The ship's bell and a Second World War memorial plaque are held by the National Railway Museum.[5][6]

In fictionEdit

In 1951 she made an appearance as the cross channel ferry in the British comedy film The Lavender Hill Mob.[7]


  1. ^ a b c "Canterbury". Scottish Built Ships. Caledonian Maritime Research Trust. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sencicle, Lorraine (6 May 2017). "Golden Arrow – The Luxury Train". Archived from the original on 2 March 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  3. ^ Bertke, Donald A; Kindell, Don; Smith, Gordon (2011). World War II Sea War: France Falls, Britain Stands Alone: Day-to-Day Naval Actions from April 1940 through September 1940. 2. p. 165. ISBN 9781937470005.
  4. ^ a b c d Goodfellow, Ray (15 October 2017). "TS Canterbury (II) - Past and Present". Dover Ferry Photos. Archived from the original on 6 December 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  5. ^ "ship's bell tss canterbury". Science Museum. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Southern Railway TSS Canterbury". Imperial War Museum. Archived from the original on 6 March 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  7. ^ "The Lavender Hill Mob 1951 - Locations". movie-locations.com. Retrieved 25 July 2018.