Posts Tagged ‘Stromness’

Ferries – 1954 and 2004

November 28, 2012

During my early life ferries were something you watched. They departed from Newhaven in Sussex and vanished beyond the horizon. I knew the destination was Dieppe. It meant nothing to me. The ships mattered, or more to the point the names of them did – particularly if they were named after a French place. My favourite was the Lisieux.

And there is Lisieux, leaving Newhaven in August 1954. That looks like my brother on the left. The open public decks on the vessel are crowded with waving people, saying farewell to England for a while. Lisieux was new then, for she had only entered service the year before. She operated the route until 1964 which meant she was there for most of my childhood.

We often watched these ferries from some miles away on top of the South Downs near Firle. They always sounded a hooter before entering harbour and we’d watch out for the puff of steam from the hooter and then time how long it was until we heard it.

‘It’s a mile for every 5 seconds’, my dad told us. It was over 4 miles, so we counted up our seconds for quite some time.

And now we’ll slip forward 50 years to 2004. By now I was a fairly regular ferry user (but only once on the Newhaven to Dieppe route). I was still was happy to watch them.

In 2004 my wife and I camped at Stromness on Orkney – a fabulous island group off the north coast of Scotland. At that time the ferry was the Hamnavoe – or Hammy as we called it. It plied back and forth on the hour and a half crossing from Scrabster on the mainland to Stromness. On its final approach to the dock it can’t have been much more than 250 yards from our tent. She woke us on her night sailings but still we loved her.

That’s Hamnavoe in Hamnavoe – the stretch of water by Stromness is what the ship is named after.

There may be more from Scottish or further flung islands in the future. They seem to have been part of life for some time.