Isle of Sark
ON 29 October 1960 Jersey said farewell to one British Railways mailboat and less than a month later it welcomed a new one, described at the time as a ‘luxury’ vessel. The ship which left the Channel Islands run was the Isle of Sark. Launched in 1932 in Dumbarton, she was well loved by Islanders, who turned out in force to see her off on her last voyage from St Helier Harbour.
Having taken part in the partial evacuation of Jersey before the Germans arrived in 1940, the Isle of Sarkk saw service during the war as a Royal Navy radar experimental training ship.
As she left the Island for the last time, her master, Capt F Cantle, ordered flags signalling ‘Goodbye’ to be flown from her masts. And as she rounded Corbière, he and her crew had the pleasure of seeing the same signal flown from the lighthouse – with the addition of flags which conveyed the message ‘Well done’. The Isle of Sark was hardly luxurious, but she was fitted with stabilisers for the safety and comfort of passengers.
Owned by Southern Railway, Isle of Sark was built by William Denny Brothers of Dumbarton. She was a twin-screw steamer of 2,200 tons and a top speed of 19 knots. She was the third ship of her class, following the Isle of Jersey and Isle of Guernsey, which were built in 1930 and were immediately successful.
She arrived in the Channel Islands on her maiden voyage on 19 March 1932 and was the first vessel on the run to have stabilisers fitted. She underwent a major overhaul in 1937 and continued in service until 1940.
When she returned to Channel Island waters after the war, and a refit, she was the first mailboat to be fitted with radar. In 1956, along with her sister vessels, she underwent another refit to improve passenger accommodation.
Her days were already numbered with the pending arrival of the new generation of mailboats, Caesarea and Sarnia, when in 1960 she hit the Albert Pier in Jersey, flattening her bows and leaving her to create an enormous bow wave until she was taken out of service and sold for breaking up.