In 1928 Captain Townsend, formerly of the Honourable Artillery Company, had started operating a car ferry service from the Camber at the eastern end of the harbour. Initially with a small collier the ‘Artificer’ and then, when the capacity of the small vessel was exceeded , with another charter vessel the ‘Royal Firth’. Due to the success of this venture, in May 1929, the Southern Railway introduced a special service of fast cargo boats for motor cars running from Dover to Calais and Folkestone to Boulogne, at rates much lower than those previously charged for carrying cars on the ordinary mail steamers. In spite of this Townsend prospered and in 1930 the ‘Forde’ entered service. Reconstructed from a Royal Navy minesweeper HMS ‘Ford’, she was fitted with a stern door which folded down onto the quay. Captain Townsend had hoped to use this stern door in conjunction with a concrete slope at each port which would allow the cars to be driven straight onto the ship, as was used by the car ferry between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. This arrangement may have worked in the calmer waters of the Solent but it was not suitable for the unpredictable Channel. What was required was adjustable bridges at both the French and British ports, which were needed to compensate for the great variations in the height of the tides . Unfortunately this solution did not appear until after the Second World War.Even though the cars still had to be craned on, the ‘Forde’ was a great improvement on her two grimy predecessors. She could carry 165 passengers and 26 cars and offered her passengers two general saloons, a ladies’ saloon and three private state rooms. The success of the ‘Forde’ was sufficient to rouse the management of the Southern Railway to provide a brand new ship of their own for car carrying services the ‘Autocarrier’.During the Second World War the ‘Forde’ served under the Admiralty as a salvage vessel. Afterwards she was refitted at Southampton and returned to Dover as a car ferry on 12 April 1947. She was withdrawn in October 1949, sold and finished her days as a car ferry between Gibraltar and Algiers, finally being withdrawn in 1954.