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Barry Railway
The Red Funnel Line
This page is devoted to postcards and photographs of the Bristol Channel excusrion steamers of the Barry Railway. An alphabetical list of ships shown on this page is shown below. The Table beneath gives links to complete history pages on selected individual ships. Below the table is a Fleet List in chronological order.
The definitive history of the Bristol Channel services of the Barry Railway, The Barry Railway Steamers by M.A.Tedstone, was published in 2005 by the Oakwood Press. The following introduction is taken from the book, which is highly recommended:-
"Almost a century has elapsed since the Barry 'Red Funnel Line' steamers disappeared from the Bristol Channel excursion scene, and although Barry Pier has gone, as has the railway that served it, the remains are yet visible, and so the memory of the handsome fleet of paddle-steamers that were based there lingers on. The recollections of those that travelled on the former Barry vessels that survived until World War II have been the stimulus to ask why it was that the White Funnel Fleet of Bristol was so challenged, at a key time of the evolution on the British paddle-steamer, by the upstart South Walian Barry Railway Company.
To understand the story of the so-called 'Barry & Bristol Channel Steamship Company' it is necessary to consider - on the one hand - the origins of the parent Barry Railway Company and - on the other - how P. & A. Campbell Ltd of Bristol with its 'White Funnel Fleet' became the dominant excursion-steamer operator in the Bristol Channel by the 1890s, the era in which this story starts.

The Barry Railway was very much a company created to serve a docks complex for the export of coal. Here, passenger train operations were somewhat secondary to the primary purpose of moving minerals traffic down from the various valleys. The company had succeeded in gaining access to numerous valleys already served by other railways in order to tap the abundant minerals traffics of the South Wales coalfield for export through its large new Barry Docks.
The White Funnel Fleet of the Bristol-based company of P. & A. Campbell Ltd had its origins as a purely excursion-steamer business trading in the Bristol Channel without any particular railway interests or involvement. The Campbell brothers saw how their rival Cardiff-based company Edwards, Robertson developed valuable links between its 'Yellow Funnel Fleet' and the powerful Taff Vale Railway for through ticketing between South Wales valleys towns and resorts in Devon and Somerset, via Cardiff and Penarth. But by the late 1890s the White Funnel Fleet of P. & A. Campbell Ltd had taken over the vessels of its Cardiff-based competitors, and the supremacy of the Bristol ships was clear to see.
Perhaps it was only natural that the Barry interests should seek to challenge those that were perceived as threatening. As the Barry Docks complex had taken shape, it was a relatively straightforward matter to extend passenger railway operations from Barry across to Barry Island for leisure traffic, and then to push further through tunnel to what was to become Barry Pier station, immediately adjacent to the main entrance lock to Barry Docks.
Although the Barry Railway thought in terms of controlling its own steamship operations from the outset, it was realised that this would meet with opposition from Campbells at Bristol with its large fleet, and so the Barry company initially settled for an alliance whereby the White Funnel Fleet of steamers served Barry Pier when it opened in 1899. But it was to be an uneasy alliance, and so the point was soon reached where the Barry company would feel obliged to go it alone. The struggle that followed was to be both litigious and complicated and the structure of this book is thus based on four distinct periods in the life of Barry Pier, in order to present a comprehensive picture of the passenger shipping activities of the Barry Railway Company. The first period covers the years up until 1904, before the railway company opted to purchase its own fleet The second period, which comprises the larger part of this account, spanned the years 1905-1909 when this new fleet was operated directly in connection with the Barry Railway, and when the head-on competition between red and white funnel interests was intense, and the legal battles were high-profile. A third, brief period came after the railway sold its three remaining vessels to a wholly separate undertaking who operated in the two seasons, 1910 and 1911. After this the red funnel disappeared from the Bristol Channel excursion passenger scene and the fourth and final period takes the story forward from 1912. This was when P. & A. Campbell Ltd took control, and ended in the 1970s, after services at Barry Pier had dwindled and were finally given up, and the pontoon dismantled."

Ships on This Page:-
Barry (1907-1910)
Devonia (1905-1910)
Gwalia (1905-1910)
Westonia (1905-1910)
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The Barry Railway Steamers by M.A.Tedstone - Oakwood Press 2005
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Table of Ship Histories


Other names

 Gwalia - tba  Lady Moyra. Brighton Queen

Barry Railway Fleet List
(Barry Railway: 1905-1910)
Gwalia was built for the Barry Railway Company in 1905 by John Brown at Clydebank. She was sold to the Furness Railway Company in 1910 and renamed Lady Moyra for services from Fleetwood and Barrow. She was used as a minesweeper in World War I and sold after the war to the Tucker 'Yellow Funnel Fleet', returning to the Bristol Channel. Lady Moyra sailed for three seasons for the Tucker operation before its financial failure. She was purchased by P and A Campbell at auction in July 1922 and ran for the White Funnel fleet from 1923, being stationed on the South Coast from 1933, renamed Brighton Queen. She sank at Dunkirk in 1940 on her second trip to evacuate troops back to the UK.
Gwalia leaving Barry.
Gwalia leaving Ilfracombe.
Stern of Gwalia (foreground) at Cardiff.
Gwalia at Cardiff.
Gwalia at Barry with grey hull.
The same card of Gwalia at Barry, reissued with black hull.
Postcard of Gwalia
Postcard of Gwalia
Postcard of Gwalia (right) at Barry
Postcard of Gwalia with Brighton
Postcard of Gwalia (right) at Ilfracombe in Yellow Funnel Line service
(Barry Railway: 1905-1910)
Devonia was launched on 22nd March 1905 by John Brown at Clydebank for the Barry Railway Company. She came to P and A Campbell by way of Bristol Channel Boats in 1911. Devonia served on the east coast during World War I as a minesweeper. She was assigned to the South Coast when Campbells returned to that station in 1923, remaining until 1932, after which she served on the Bristol Channel until being laid up in 1939. In World War 2 Devonia was reconditioned for use as a minesweeper and sent to eastern Scotland. She attended the Dunkirk evacuation, but was abandoned on the French coast on May 31st 1940 under heavy fire from enemy aircraft.
Images to be added
(Barry Railway: 1905-1910)
Westonia was built by in 1889 by J Scott at Kinghorn, Fife, for the Galloway Saloon Steam Packet Company as the Tantallon Castle. In 1901 she was stationed at Brighton as Sussex Belle, running under the ownership of Captain Lee. By 1902 she was registered with the Sussex Steam Packet Co. At the end of the 1902 season she was sold for service in North Wales with the Colwyn Bay & Liverpool Steamship Co and renamed Rhos Colwyn. The Barry Railway company purchased her in 1905 and renaming her Westonia. She operated mainly on the Cardiff-Weston ferry, and served the railway company until 1910 and Bristol Channel Boats Ltd until her sale to P and A Campbell at the end of 1911. Reboilered, she emerged with one funnel instead of two and was renamed Tintern by Campbells. She worked for the 1912 season in the Campbell fleet before being sold for use in Portugal, surviving there until 1929 as the Alentejo.
Postcard of Westonia at Weston.
Postcard of Westonia (background) at Cardiff.
Modern Pamlin postcard of Westonia at Cardiff.
(Barry Railway: 1907-1910)
Barry was built by John Brownfor the Barry Railway Company in their new venture to capture a share of the Bristol Channel excursion trade. On the withdrawal of the Barry company from steamer operations in 1910 she passed to the Bristol Channel Passenger Boats Ltd, and then to P&A Campbell ownership in 1911. Barry was requisitioned in World War I, being stationed in Greece, based in Salonika, and taking part in the Gallipoli landings. She was refitted by her builders in 1920 for return to Campbell service. Barry was renamed Waverley in 1926 and sent to the Brighton station replacing Ravenswood. She became HMS Snaefell in World War 2 and was sent to the Tyne, based at North Shields. She attended Dunkirk where she was involved in the rescue of her grounded stablemate Glen Gower. HMS Snaefell was sunk in a bombing raid off Sunderland on July 5th, 1941.
Barry on the left at Barry
Barry in the Avon Gorge
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