Poole Twinning Day Charters 1980s 

The times when modern day Vikings invaded Poole Quay - photos below!


My motivations for researching this topic are twofold ... firstly, as Sales & Marketing Manager, Western Routes for Thoresen Car Ferries in the mid-eighties ... and secondly, as Secretary of the World Ship Society - Dorset Branch.

In 1979 I joined Thoresen Car Ferries as one of their Duty Operations Managers overseeing passenger, vehicle & freight loading and discharge at their Southampton and Portsmouth ferry terminals. After moving to a Sales & Marketing role I was introduced to Tony Watts who worked as an ambassador with La Manche Tourism covering the Cotentin Cherbourg peninsular in Normandy together with representing Food from France in the UK. I benefitted greatly from Tony's experience and contacts as I set about generating more passenger traffic for Townsend Thoresen. Tony was also instrumental in establishing the Poole Twinning Association and the twinning with Cherbourg, established in 1977. The twinning association was interested in chartering ships to undertake special day trips between Poole and Cherbourg ... Tony for the Twinning Association ... and I represented TT. 

Having moved to Dorset in 2009 and retired in 2014, I was invited to take on the secretary role with WSS-Dorset. in 2019 and recently developed a website, facebook group and zoom events programme. These new ventures bring with them new contacts, bring back old memories and require content to fill space and interest the audience! Dorset has two main ports and its interesting to see what passenger links there have been between Poole and France before Truckline/Brittany arrived. 


Thanks to the following ...                                                                                                                                                                                                        ~ Dover Ferry Photos (www.doverferryphotosforums.co.uk) ... for dates and ship details                                                                                     ~ Poole Maritime Trust ... including Peter Lamb ... and Christopher Wood for his super photos of Viking Venturer                                            ~ The late Tony Watts for his photos of Free Enterprise V ... and for being the key driver behind the Poole Twinning Day Charters           ~ Kevin Mitchell ... for his guidance towards photo collections                                                                                                                                       ~ Townsend Thoresen (Western Channel) facebook group for personal memories. 


         Viking II ... later sailed as Earl William                                              Free Enterprise V                                                               Viking Venturer

THE STORY SO FAR ... (ongoing research)

Charters organised by the Poole Twinning Association

Earl William … was that the first trip? … the ship was in Sealink livery and arrived at Poole ex Weymouth … maybe 1981 or 1982

The ship was built as Viking II for Thoresen Car Ferries' new service from Southampton in the mid-sixties 

Free Enterprise V … came to Poole from Portsmouth to undertake day charters on 19th May 1983 and 4thSeptember 1984.

Viking Venturer  … undertook a day trip to Cherbourg in September 1985

Corbiere … Maybe chartered in the period before Brittany started a passenger service to Cherbourg but when Corbiere was sailing to the Channel Islands so guessing 1986. (The start of the Truckline passenger service from Poole with Tregastel did not start until 1989).

Townsend Thoresen's Free Enterprise V  

Built 1970 by the N.V.Werft "Gusto" shipyard at Schiedam near Rotterdam.  

Key Dimensions … 

~    Length = 118m    ~    Beam = 19m    ~    Draft = 4.4m    ~    Gross Tonnage = 5,044    ~    Service Speed = 19 knots    ~

~    Car capacity = 250    ~    Passenger capacity = 1,132

Principal Machinery = Three 12-cylinder Smit-MAN diesel engines producing 9,003 KW

~ ~ ~ ~

Above & below left - passengers board Free Enterprise V alongside Poole Quay ... below right - look at the queues waiting to board!

Townsend Thoresen's Viking Venturer  

Built 1974 by the Aalborg Vaerft A/S shipyard in Denmark .  

Key Dimensions … 

~    Length = 127m    ~    Beam = 20m    ~    Draft = 4.5m    ~    Gross Tonnage = 6,387    ~    Service Speed = 19 knots

~    Car capacity = 275    ~    Passenger capacity = 1,200

Principal Machinery = Two 8-cylinder Werkspoor "wing" diesels plus one 9-cylinder "centre" diesel engines producing 10,665 KW

~ ~ ~ ~

Above - passengers board Viking Venturer alongside Poole Quay ... below - departing astern Cherbourg bound. 

~Ships~Dorset~ January 2021