28th April 1976

Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in

The 1970s are remembered as a time of strikes and discontent. It’s not normally customers who go on strike, but that’s exactly what happed on one Guernsey-bound ferry.

Around 700 passengers on the Sealink ship Earl Godwin staged a sit-in at the end of April 1976. They refused to move until British Rail, Sealink’s owner, transported them and their cars to the Channel Islands. They had been stranded at Weymouth, Dorset, since the previous day, when the ship stewards had gone out on strike.

The stewards were protesting staffing levels on the ships. They returned to work provisionally, while negotiations continued, on 29 April – the day after the passengers’ sit-in.

The Channel Islands were effectively cut off from the mainland during the strike, as it prevented vehicles being unloaded from another Sealink ferry, the Maid of Kent, which was sitting in port at Cherbourg.

Just the previous month, passengers had been stranded at Weymouth when the same ferry – the Earl Godwin – had developed a generator fault and been unable to put to sea.

Earl Godwin’s history

Earl Godwin had been built in Sweden in 1966 under the name Svea Drott. She was 99.5m long, and 17.8 wide. Her cruising speed was 18.5 knots (21mph). She served the Channel Islands, on and off, for 13 years between 1976 and 1989, and in October 1985 ran aground just outside St Helier harbour, Jersey.

Sealink had originally leased the ship from Trave-Line but bought it outright in 1975. At that point it renamed it Earl Godwin, after the Earl of Wessex, who had been one of the most powerful earls in England under the rule of King Canute. In 1990 the ship was purchased by Moby Lines, who renamed it Moby Baby.


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Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Finishing touches put to new hospital 30th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port