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The Castalia

The ‘Castalia’ was named after Lady Granville who launched the  ship in June 1874. It was designed by Captain Dicey who was  convinced of the trustworthiness and stability of the catamaran  design, based on his observations of native canoes and  catamarans while he was Harbour Master in Calcutta. The ship was in effect two half hulls joined together by girders  and with paddle wheels between the hulls. She was the largest  ship yet built for the Channel service, measuring some 290ft by  60ft with a gross tonnage of 1,553. It was her unusually wide  beam that Captain Dicey hoped would be the answer to the  problems of seasickness that plagued cross-Channel  passengers. The ‘Castalia’ was designed to carry 700  passengers and, because manoeuvring in Calais harbour was so  difficult, the ship was double ended so that it would be  unnecessary to turn round. The ‘Castalia’ arrived in Dover in October 1874 but had to  return to London the following month to have new boilers and  paddles fitted as her speeds on trial were nothing like as high  as were expected. In June 1875 she returned to Dover and her first crossing to  Calais was encouraging enough for her to start a regular service in August. Her crossing speeds were still far too slow, which  meant that she had to leave Dover or Calais before the arrival  of the mail train, causing passengers wishing to travel on the  ship considerable inconvenience. She thus carried fewer  passengers than she might otherwise have done and was not a  financial success. After a short working life she was withdrawn  at the end of October 1876 and, after a few years lying idle,  she was sold in 1883 and ended her days as a hospital for  infectious diseases on the Thames.
The 'Castalia' Leaving Dover, 1875. From the cover of the 'The Graphic'  illustrated weekly newspaper 14th August 1875. The 'Castalia' tied up against Crosswall in the Granville Dock. The 'Castalia' in the Granville Dock. Back to Ferries and Shipping Index