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Pictures from the Heritage Archives

Recently we were following up on an enquiry which came in to the Heritage Trust concerning the Monte Carlo Rally of 1954 and 1955. This led us to wonder just what the facilities were at that time for cars crossing over the channel to France.

Research showed that starting in October of 1951 the Port Authorities at Dover reclaimed land to create the new Dover Eastern Docks area. It was here the first two ‘drive on drive off’ ferry terminal berths were formed, establishing a crossing to Boulogne-Sur-Mer, then France’s second largest passenger port, where similar floating berths were constructed.

The official opening on the 30th June 1953, was performed by the then Transport Minister, the Rt. Hon. Alan T. Lennox Boyd MP. So it was, our intrepid rallyists had, compared to former years, an easy crossing.

Roy Thornton Collection - picture of Dover Eastern docks taken from the Cliffs - 1953.

Prior to this development cars were lifted in slings by cranes and swung into the hold of the ship while owners watched on with fascination or trepidation!

Oft- times this simply meant strong canvas and wire rope slings hooked over each wheel,

Roy Thornton Collection- picture of Armstrong Siddeley Hurricane being sling loaded on to ferry.

Thirty years earlier Ernest Siddeley was obviously impressed by the slick system used to load his cars at the Port of Calais as he journeyed home after one of his many continental tours. In the picture below, from his private collection, is the Armstrong Siddeley car he used in 1926 being hoisted aboard the ferry as he returned home.

One has to accept that these many continental touring holidays were a disguise for a long distance road test. Or should that be the other way round?

Armstrong Siddeley 18hp Mk 2, being loaded at Calais


The Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust wish to thank Nigel Thornton for his generous help and permissions granted for the use of pictures from the Roy Thornton Collection.


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