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Blue Funnel Cruises
 
Solent & Wight Line Cruises
 
Page 1: Acquired Vessels 1952-1973
 
 
This page is devoted to postcards and photographs of Blue Funnel Cruises and Solent & Wight Line Cruises.
 
Blue Funnel Cruises are based in Southampton, and in 2006 run public and charter cruises around the Solent area to Portsmouth, Rivers Hamble, Beaulieu, Itchen & Test, etc, plus shorter Southampton Docks cruises. Solent & Wight Line Cruises work out of Portsmouth and Isle of Wight ports running harbour trips and excursions, whilst the versatile fast "Jenny" boats can also be used on ferry trips and emergency ambulance work.
 
The origins of Blue Funnel can be traced back to the 1930s, when the Barkham family were building small motor boats in Southampton. They pioneered the running of organised trips in their boats, to view the ocean liners. Horace Barkham took over the company at the age of 18 in 1935 on the death of his father. The business concentrated on the war effort until the 1945, after which trips restarted from the Town Quay, since the Royal Pier was still requisitioned. Horace sold the engineering business to concentrate on running harbour tours, and teamed up with Walter Hogg to form Favourite Boat Cruises c.1950. The original small motor boats soon proved inadequate, and so the Gosport ferry Varos was acquired. The company also collaborated with Doug House of Ryde, who also ran an ex-Gosport ferry, the Wight Queen (ex-Ferry Queen). The two vessels were run as the Solent Boating Company from c.1955. Further redundant Gosport ferries were acquired, the Solent Queen (ex-Ferry King), Sandringham, Princessa, Venus and Verda. These were all converted to diesel operation at the company's yard on the River Itchen. The last of the fleet to run as a steam boat was the Venus of 1948, bought in 1966. Cruises expanded away from the harbour tours, running to other Solent attractions such as Beaulieu for the motor museum. The name Blue Funnel Cruises was adopted c.1965.
 
The first purpose-built vessel was the Solent Scene of 1974, followed by her sister the Island Scene in 1978. An even larger vessel, the Leisure Scene, was delivered in 1985. The last of the Gosport ferries, Princessa departing the fleet soon afterwards. Horace Barkham retired from the company in 1979, selling out to his partner William Hogg.
 
The "Jenny" boats began operating for M.J.Rayment of Cowes from about 1980. These are fast purpose-built launches with speeds of around 18 knots that can be used as excursion vessels, workers' trip boats and for emergency ambulance work. Rayment acquired a 50% interest in the Solent Scene and began operating her as Wight Line Cruises, later Solent and Wight Line Cruises, whilst retaining the same Blue Funnel fleet colours. When the two similar large vessels Wight Scene and Ocean Scene were delivered in 1992 and 1994, one was allocated to each company. Wight Scene arrived first in 1992, and Mark Rayment's son took Solent Scene to Poole, and later also ran Poole Scene (ex-New Forrester) there. Delivery of Ocean Scene to Blue Funnel was delayed, causing financial difficulties, and the Poole-based Rayment bought out Blue Funnel from William Hogg. Both Blue Funnel Cruises and Solent & Wight Line Cruises were then owned by the Rayment family, but the companies retain separate identities, and separate websites, but work together to cover the whole of the Solent area, with Blue Funnel still based in Southampton, and Solent & Wight Line Cruises working out of Portsmouth and Isle of Wight ports. Solent Scene passed to Blue Line Cruises in May 1998, and continues services from Poole in 2006.
 
 
Boats on this Page:-
Princessa (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1958-1986)
Sandringham (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1956-1969)
Solent Queen (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1962-1984)
Varos (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1952-1984)
Venus (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1966-1978)
Verda (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1958-1984)
Wight Queen (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1956-1986)
 
Boats on Page 2:-
Ashleigh-R (Blue Funnel Cruises: 2004- )
Island Scene (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1978-c.1994)
Jenny Lee (Solent & Wight Line: 1985- )
Jenny M of Medina (Solent & Wight Line: 1988- )
Jenny R (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1984- )
Leisure Scene (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1985-2002)
Ocean Scene (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1994- )
Solent Cat (Solent & Wight Line: 2000- )
Solent Scene (Blue Funnel Cruises: 1974-1998)
Wight Scene (Solent & Wight Line: 1992- )
 
Blue Funnel Cruises Pages:-
Blue Funnel Cruises - Page 1 - Acquired Vessels 1952-1973 - this page!
Blue Funnel Cruises - Page 2 - New Vessels 1974-2006
 
Solent Area Pages:-
Blue Line Cruises
Hythe-Southampton Ferries
Hovertravel
Portsmouth Harbour Ferries
Portsmouth Harbour Tours
Solent Steam Packet Ltd - SS Shieldhall
 
Associated Pages:-
UK Excursion Ships
Ferry Postcards
Cruise Ship Postcards
Ocean Liner Postcards
Simplon Postcards - Recent Updates
Simplon Postcards - Home Page
  Simplon Facebook Page - Simplon Postcards facebook page
 
 
Search This Website:-

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References:-
Trip Out Guides - Written and published by G.P.Hamer - various editions from 1977 to 2008 consulted
Trip Guides are available from Geoffrey Hamer, PO Box 485, Southall, UB1 9BH






Fleet List
 
Page 1: Acquired Vessels 1952-1973



Varos
(Solent Boating Co: 1952-1965 - built: 1921)
(Blue Funnel Cruises: 1965-1974)

Varos was built in 1929 at Millwall for the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company. She was sold to the Solent Boating Company (Blue Funnel Cruises) in the early 1950s, but was withdrawn in in 1974, passing to Coakley's Launches on the Thames in 1976, who also bought the Ferry Belle. They were running for Pearltarn by 1981. She ran from Westminster and Tower Pier to Greenwich jointly with Thames Pleasure Craft (who owned Ferry Prince, Ferry Princess and Ferry Queen) and Woods River Services who owned Vita. Thames Cruises also ran the Vesta on the same service, so that seven ex-Gosport ferries were running on the Westminster-Greenwich services in 1977. By 1981, Venus had joined them with Greenwich Pleasurecraft.


Varos at Southampton
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Varos off Netley on 29th June 1966
Photo: John Hendy, 1966
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Princessa - Photo:  John Hendy, 1966 - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Varos on the Thames, 5th March 1978
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Wight Queen
(Solent Boating Co: 1956-1965 - built: 1908)
(Blue Funnel Cruises: 1965-c.1975)
 
Wight Queen was built in 1908 by Camper & Nicholson's of Gosport as the Ferry Queen for Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Co. She was bought by Doug House of Ryde in 1956, who renamed her Wight Queen. House cooperated with Horace Barkham of Southampton (Solent Boating Co) in what was described as a loose partnership. She was re-engined with Gardner diesels in standard Solent Boating fashion, receiving their usual motorship funnel. It is believed that she passed to a Nejieris Yiallouros on the Thames in the 1970s.


Postcard of Wight Queen as a steamer at Ryde.
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Wight Queen off Ryde in Blue Funnel service
Photo: Eric Payne
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Princessa - Photo:  Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Wight Queen in use as a houseboat on the Thames
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th March 2009
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Wight Queen in use as a houseboat on the Thames
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th March 2009
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Wight Queen in use as a houseboat on the Thames
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 17th March 2009
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Sandringham
(Solent Boating Co: 1956-1965 - built: 1900)
(Blue Funnel Cruises: 1965-1969)

Sandrigham was built in 1900 for the Port of Portsmouth Floating Bridge Company. She was mainly intended for excursion work and replaced the Eva Mary. She was used by the War Department in WW2 and was not released until 1956 when she was sold to Solent Blue Line (later Blue funnel cruises). She was fitted with Gardner engines and ran until 1969. Her engines were used in the Venus.


Sandringham in service as a ferry at Gosport
Photo: Eric Payne
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Sandringham - Gosport Ferry - Photo:  Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Sandringham in Blue Funnel service in July 1959
Photo: Eric Payne
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Sandringham - Blue Funnel Cruises - Photo:  1959 Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Sandringham in Blue Funnel service
Photo: Eric Payne
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Sandringham - Blue Funnel Cruises - Photo:  Eric Payne - www.simplonpc.co.uk






Princessa
(Solent Boating Co: c1958-1965 - built: 1921)
(Blue Funnel Cruises: 1965-1986)
 
48 gross tons - 65 ft long - 170 passengers
 
Princessa was built by Camper & Nicholson in Gosport for the Port of Portsmouth Floating Bridge Company in 1921. She was intended for use as an excursion vessel rather than a harbour ferry. Princessa was used on trips around Portsmouth Harbour and across the Solent to Seaview. She was powered by a 2-cylinder compound engine by Plenty of Newbury. She was bought by the Solent Boating Company and fitted with a Gardner diesel engine and small deckhouse. Princessa was employed on Southampton Water and the Beaulieu River until 1986, when she moved to Falmouth to work for the Pill family. Since 2001 she has been run by John Pill (as Falmouth Pleasure Cruises), and operates morning and afternoon cruises to the Helford River. She is the largest excursion boat on the River Fal. See www.boattrips-falmouth.co.uk for details.


Princessa undergoing conversion at Bembridge
Photo: Eric Payne
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Princessa - Photo:  Eric Payne, 1959 - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princessa at Southampton Royal Pier on 15th April 1976.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Princessa at Ryde in 1977
Photo: John Hendy, 1977
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Princessa - Photo:  John Hendy, 1977 - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Princessa at Southampton in 1982
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1982
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Princessa



Princessa at Southampton in 1982
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1982
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Princessa



Princessa at Portsmouth in 1985
Photo: John Hendy, 1985
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Princessa



Princessa arriving at the Prince of Wales Pier, in service with Falmouth Pleasure Cruises
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 23rd July 2008



Princessa leaving the Prince of Wales Pier for her moorings, in service with Falmouth Pleasure Cruises
Photo: © Ian Boyle, 23rd July 2008






Verda
(Solent Boating Co: c.1958-1965 - built: 1929)
(Blue Funnel Cruises: 1965-1984)
 
Verda was built in Millwall for the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company in 1929. She was used on the Gosport crossing. She was powered by a 2-cylinder compound engine by Plenty of Newbury. She was bought by the Solent Boating Company and fitted with a Gardner diesel engine and small deckhouse. Verda was employed on Southampton harbour tours, and other Solent cruises. She survived in 2008 as a bizarre house boat at Shoreham.


Verda leaving Portsmouth in May 1975.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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ex-Gosport ferry Verda  at Ryde
Photo: John Hendy, August 1978,
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VERDA - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1978 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



ex-Gosport ferry Verda  at Ryde
Photo: John Hendy, August 1978,
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VERDA - ex-Gosport Ferry - Photo: 1978 John Hendy - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Solent Queen and Verda at Ryde in 1977.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Verda in the Solent in 1982
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Verda in the Solent in 1982
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Verda in the Solent in 1982
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Verda in the Solent in 1982
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Verda in the Solent in 1982
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Verda in use as a house boat at Shoreham
There is a second bus on the other side - Photo: © John Hendy, 24th February 2008
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Verda in use as a house boat at Shoreham
Photo: © John Hendy, 24th February 2008
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Solent Queen
(Solent Boating Co: c.1962-1965 - built: 1918)
(Blue Funnel Cruises: c.1965-1984)
 
Solent Queen was built as the Ferry King by Camper & Nicholson in Gosport for the Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Company in 1918. She was sold to the Solent Boating Company in 1962, and rebuilt with diesel engine and deckhouse. She was renamed Solent Queen and cruised with them until 1984. She later ran as the Crystal Rose in Waterford, and later became derelict. Michael Byrne is currently restoring her.


Postcard of Ferry King as a Gosport ferry



Solent Queen and Verda at Ryde in 1977.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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Solent Queen at Ryde in 1978
Photo: John Hendy, 1978
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Solent Queen - Blue Funnel Cruises - Photo:  John Hendy1978



Solent Queen at Southampton in 1982
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1982
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Solent Queen



Solent Queen at Southampton in 1982
Photo: Ian Boyle, 1982
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Solent Queen



Crystal Rose at Waterford
Photo: © Michael Byrne
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Crystal Rose as discovered by Michael Byrne in 2006
Photo: © Michael Byrne
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Crystal Rose stripped to hull and floating again for the first time in 20 years in 2008
Photo: © Michael Byrne
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Venus
(Blue Funnel Cruises: 1966-1978 - built: 1948)
 

Venus was built for the Port of Portsmouth Steam Launch & Towing Company in 1948 by  Camper & Nicholson, Gosport, for the Gosport & Portsea Waterman's Steam Launch Company in 1948. In 1961 she passed to the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company. She was retained as a reserve ferry and excursion steamer until 1968 when she was sold to Solent Boating Company (Blue Funnel Cruises). Venus ran as a steamship for Blue Funnel for two years before receiving the diesel engines from the Sandringham. She was sold to Greenwich Pleasurecraft on the Thames in 1978.


Venus at Gosport after being withdrawn
Photo: John Hendy 1966,
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VENUS - Gosport Ferry - Photo: 2010 Andrew Berry - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Venus at Southampton Royal Pier in 1966
She initially retained her steamer funnel - Photo: Ian Boyle 1968,
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VENUS - Blue Funnel Cruises- Photo: 1966 Ian Boyle - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Venus at Southampton Royal Pier in 1966
Photo: Ian Boyle 1968,
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VENUS - Blue Funnel Cruises- Photo: 1966 Ian Boyle - www.simplonpc.co.uk



Venus in Portsmouth harbour in June 1974.
Photo: © Ian Boyle
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