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Earl Siward

Like her near sister, the Holyhead Ferry I, the Dover was also converted to drive-through operations, the rebuild being carried out at Aalborg during the winter of 1976/77. With the removal of several liferafts she reappeared with four extra lifeboats. The work was very much a stop-gap measure before new purpose-built tonnage could be ordered.

Earl Siward













Swan Hunter, Wallsend 1965.


820 tonnes


Lloyds +100 A1




725 passengers

205 cars


Bow and stern

As the Earl Siward, she was to enjoy one final spell of service at Holyhead operating the additional 'second ship' summer sailings from 22 June 1981. The steamer operated for just 17 days before being replaced by the chartered Prinsessan Desirée. When the Earl Siward quietly departed Dun Laoghaire under a cloud of black smoke on 8 July the few onlookers on the piers were not just witnessing the ship's final departure, but the end of an era as the last Railway-owned turbine steamer to operate on the Irish Sea disappeared over the horizon. The ship was sold four months later, moving to Cyprus as the Sol Express. 

Earl Siward at Calais

© Kenny Whyte

Earl Siward

© Kenny Whyte

Earl Siward

© Kenny Whyte

Earl Siward

© Kenny Whyte

Earl Siward

© Kenny Whyte

Earl Siward at Folkestone April 1981

© Jim Ashby

In 1993 she returned to the UK having been purchased for use as a night club on the Tyne at Gateshead by Absolute Leisure, the operators of the Tuxedo Princess, another former British Rail ferry - the Caledonian Princess. As the Tuxedo Royale, she traded there for six years before being replaced by the Tuxedo Princess on her return from a failed venture in Glasgow. The Tuxedo Royale was then moved south to Middlesbrough for similar operation opposite the ground of Middlesbrough Football Club.  But this too, somewhat predictably, was set to end in failure.


On 20 April 2006 the Tuxedo Royale was moved from its berth in Middlesbrough to make way for the Middlehaven development. The ship was placed into 'temporary storage' in Hartlepool while plans to move it to another site are looked at. Absolute Leisure chairman Michael Quadrini told the BBC: "We have been offered other sites both in the UK and abroad and are currently looking into which will be the best one."


Following the liquidation of Absolute Leisure the ship was set for scrapping, but was reprieved and towed back to Able UK's quay at Middlesbrough early in 2009 for what was supposed to be a maximum of two weeks. The vessel continued to deteriorate however and subjected to vandalism on 1 June 2017 Tuxedo Royale was badly damaged by fire. On 18 January 2018 Able UK announced that seven years after the owners went into administration, and with the lack of "any credible plans to move and restore the ship" dismantling had begun.

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