The ‘Canterbury’ was ordered by the
from Denny Bros early in 1928. She was to be the first
class ferry link in the new ‘Golden
Arrow’ / ‘Flèche d’Or’
luxury train service between
London and Paris.
Her tall funnel and lofty masts gave her a well-balanced
profile, and she created much interest following her
introduction on the new service between Dover and Calais
on 15 May 1929. Although she was certified to carry
up to 1,700 passengers she initially carried only 300
first class passengers. The accommodation was more luxurious
than anything seen before on the Channel, and included
two suites and 18 private cabins, a restaurant seating
about 100 and a palm court.
At first she suffered a number of mechanical problems
and underwent an extensive refit during the winter of
1931/32. These were the days of the Depression and first
class only service was no longer viable, so during this
refit she was also given second class accommodation.
In 1935 she was present at King George V’s Jubilee Naval
Review at Spithead.
After the outbreak of World
she served as a transport for troops and refugees
on a number of routes, and later made five trips to
25 May and 4 June 1940. After this she served a short
term as a Fleet Air Arm target ship before being converted
to a troop landing ship. She took part in the D-Day
landings and ran as a leave ship between Calais and
the Kent ports before being released back to commercial
After a refit she returned to the ‘Golden
service on 15 April 1946, being replaced
six months later by a new ship the ‘Invicta’. The ‘Canterbury’
switched to the Folkestone-Calais run, returning to
her old service for a six month spell from January 1947.
In summer 1948 she moved to a seasonal Folkestone-Boulogne
service where she remained for the next 16 years.
The ‘Canterbury’ was withdrawn and laid up at Dover
after her final crossing on 27 September 1964. On the
30 July 1965 this popular ship left the port she knew
so well in tow of a Belgian tug, bound for Antwerp and