May 1965

By Rob Vinall and Andy Gilbert

Photo:Falaise under repair in dry dock at Immingham

Falaise under repair in dry dock at Immingham

Rob Vinall

Rob Vinall has kindly sent us a photo of our first car ferry Falaise in dry dock, undergoing repairs. The photo is dated May 1965 and Rob wondered if we could find out the story behind the photo.

A little research was done and I discovered that Falaise had left Newhaven in gale force winds on the evening of 18th April 1965. On her way out through the narrows, she struck the East Pier, causing extensive damage to her bow. Her sailing was, unsurprisingly, cancelled and she returned to the ramp. As she was our only car ferry at the time, her cars were transferred to the three 'Dieppe Screws' and passengers to our remaining steamers, Brighton and Lisieux.

Next day, cars were re-routed to the short sea routes until the car ferry Normannia took up the service on the 20th April.

Falaise was immediately sent to Immingham for repairs, which is where the photo was taken. It looks like she has a large hole being replated, and though it's hard to see, her bow rudder also looks like it's also under repair. On her return to service a few weeks later, she was soon joined by the first of the twin French car ferries, Villandry, with Valencay completing the trio the following month.

Falaise had many such incidents in her early career (excuse the pun!) at Newhaven and she was sent for official trials which revealed that she was in fact incapable of holding a proper course! Modifications were then made to her steering gear to alleviate this unfortunate situation!

As a footnote, the photo shows that Falaise has been repainted in the then brand new British Rail hull colour of Monastral Blue, with the diagonal white step down that would match that of the new French ships. Ironically, they first arrived with black hulls, soon repainted (there's a photo on a couple of shipping sites showing one of the twins half blue and half black!). The repaint of Falaise must have taken place during her winter 1964/65 visit to the Marine Shops.

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 12/11/2018.

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