If you ever go across the sea to Ireland

If you ever go across the sea to Ireland

Then maybe at the closing of your day

You arrive in Holyhead to find the Princess

Turn around then come back another day.

TSS Princess Maud

Built at Dumbarton on the Clyde and launched in December 1933 for the London Midland and Scottish Railway, she was completed in 1934. She spent her heyday on the Stranraer to Larne Route, but towards the latter part of her service with British Railways she would spend the summer months as a relief ship on the busy Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire route. Never popular amongst passengers at 2886 tons she was almost half the size of the Cambria and the Hibernia, the two regular performers which dated from 1949. It was regularly standing room only. These crossings were always extremely busy in the 1950s. Apart from her small size probably the main reason for the Princess’s unpopularity was that unlike the larger boats she had no stabilisers and would pitch and roll like a fairground rollercoaster. The Irish Sea with its relatively shallow depth can pitch up fairly interesting seas in blustery weather and life on board Princess Maud was none too pleasant. Passengers crammed in had to put up with their neighbours vomiting in all parts of the ship. I hated the smell of being on board, it just stank of sick. I remember being on board either the Cambria or Hibernia, I don’t remember which, but my uncle Jim pointed out the Princess Maud as we overtook her en route for Dun Laoghaire on a flat calm morning.

Princess Maud wasn’t all that primitive though. She was built with a steam turbine engine that gave her a speed of 21 knots, faster than her bigger diesel engined rivals. Turbines had mainly replaced the older triple expansion steam engines, which were much less efficient. Princess Maud was the first British Merchant ship ever to be fitted with a sprinkler fire extinguisher system.

During WW2 Princess Maud served with distinction alongside many other ships and was part of the DD landing force in June 1944. Attached to the American forces for the invasion, she served as an LSI (Landing Ship Infantry) transporting hundreds of troops to Omaha beach. She anchored off shore transferring troops into landing craft.

Following the war she underwent a refit before resuming passenger duties from Holyhead and worked until 1965. During 1951 she returned to France briefly whilst employed on the Southampton to St. Malo route.

She was sold to a Greek company in 1965, renamed Venus and worked cruises from Cyprus, such a luxurious demise!

Eventually she was sold for scrap in 1973 and was cut up in a yard in Bilbao, Spain.

Cambria and Hibernia at Holyhead

The two mainstays of the route RMS Cambria and RMS Hibernia, built in 1949 for The British Transport Commission.

M.V. Hibernia is thought to have been sold to Greek owners in 1973 and became the Express Apollen (further investigation needed*). She was broken up at Darukhana, India in 1980.

M.V. Cambria, was sold to Middle Eastern owners and is thought to have sunk at anchor in 1980. (unconfirmed*)

*Anybody having further information on any of the ships mentioned  in this post please comment below.

Built by William Denny & Brothers Dumbarton,

Yard No 1265

Engines by Denny & Co.


Last Name: NYBO (1969)

Previous Names: VENUS (1965)

Propulsion: 2 screws. Two stage single reduction geared turbine. 750 nhp

Launched: Tuesday, 19/12/1933

Built: 1934

Ship Type: Passenger cargo

Ship’s Role: Stranraer – Larne service

Tonnage: 2886 grt

Owner History:

London Midland & Scottish Railway Ltd.

1965: Lefkosia Compaia Naviera SA.

Cyprus Sea Cruises (Limassol) Ltd.

Status: Scrapped – 1973



O.N. 134673.

February 1934: Completed.

1939: Troopship until Dunkirk evacuation.

1944: Deployed as LSI at invasion of Normandy.

1946: Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire service.

1973: Broken up at Bilbao.

The author of this post, Ray Coggin, is both a Taxi Tour Guide and a City of Westminster Guide and leads both walking tours and taxi tours (both highlights and themed) around Central London and further afield. Details of his taxi tours can be found here.