6th March 1930

Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners

Of all the ships linking Guernsey and the mainland, few have been as well named as this. The Isle of Guernsey was built by William Denny and Brothers in Dumbarton. Launched on 17 December 1929, it had two propellers driven by a steam turbine. After undergoing sea trials, it was handed to it owner, the Southern Railway Company, on 6 March 1930.

They’d commissioned it for the Southampton to Guernsey route, presumably anticipating a long service life. Unfortunately, the war soon got in the way.

Wartime service

Once Guernsey had been occupied, the chances of sending ships between the island and the mainland were nil. Worse, with no leisure traffic to speak of, the Isle of Guernsey was commandeered by the military. It was refitted as a hospital ship nine years after Southern Railway had acquired it, and in 1940 sailed to Dunkirk.

It returned in France for D-Day, and didn’t re-enter civilian service until after the war. Over its active life, it put in just under 25 years service ferrying passengers backwards and forwards between the mainland and Channel Islands, if you discount its war duty, and was retired – and scrapped – in 1961.

Paddle steamer specs

She wasn’t enormous by today’s standards, at just 93 by 13 metres with a draught of 4.2 metres. She could carry 1,400 passengers, of whom 800 were in first class, mainly in private cabins, and 600 in a largely open-plan second class. The Birmingham Daily Gazette reported, on 19 May 1930, on “a novel feature… found in the portable cabins on the promenade deck during the winter and their replacement in the summer by tea lounges on the port and starboard sides”.

The Isle of Guernsey, which cost £170,000 to build, joined the Isle of Jersey and Isle of Sark, which already plied the route.

The ships were fitted out to a higher standard than passengers on the route had experience until that point. The Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser wrote on 19 March 1930 that both the Isle of Guernsey and the Isle of Jersey “are equipped with every possible means science has devised for ensuring safety at sea, especially in times of fog. The wireless room is the last word in efficiency”.


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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st