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Improved Ferry Service July 1969

The new British Rail Sealink car ferry M.V.Cuthred made its inaugural journey on Wednesday 9th July 1969 with the mayors of Portsmouth and Ryde cutting the tape at their respective ends of the journey. The 705 ton vessel was built by Richards [Shipbuilders] of Lowestoft at a cost of £300,000. It joins two other smaller vessels on the same route and provides a higher standard of comfort for passengers and accommodation for additional cars. The ship will be able to complete 12 round journeys a day at peak periods and raise route capacity by 70% for vehicles and a 100% for passengers. On its inaugural journey Cuthred passed the paddle streamer Ryde on its way from Clarence Pier to Ryde, British Rail oldest and newest ferries.

The vessel has an overall length of 190 feet with a breadth of 50 feet; it can be loaded from either end and can accommodate 48 cars or a combination of lorries, coaches and cars. Improved seating is provided for 400 people, 357 of whom can be accommodated in the covered deck lounges. The main feature is an upper lounge seating 131 people from which passenger can get a panoramic view of the Solent, this lounge is equipped with a bar and snack counter. The lower lounge seating 178 people was not to the same standard only being provided with vending machines. Propulsion was by Voith Schneider units mounted vertically fore and aft, each driven by Davy Paxman 378 bhp. diesel units give a service speed of 10 knots.

By providing the additional vessel British Rail will be able to offer both a better and expanding service, and give motorist more opportunity to cross at weekend and at peak periods. The number of cars and lorries being carried across the Solent has been rising steadily for some years. In 1960 British Rail carried at total of 125,000 vehicles on their Portsmouth and Lymington routes, in 1968 the total had risen to 317,000, an increase of 250%.

Editors note: The design of Cuthred was a new departure in passenger comfort with accommodation brings taken right across the width of the deck, but unfortunately the ship had a basic design fault, it was underpowered. It was the first of several ships to be given a name associated with the dark ages; Cuthred was the king of Wessex in the period 740—754 AD. The ship was withdrawn from service at the end of 1986. There is a picture of the boat in the picture gallery.

Source: IWCP 11 July 1969

This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:28

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