THE ST ANSELM STORY
PART ONE: A SEALINK FLAGSHIP 1980-1990
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The British Sealink flagship St Anselm entered service in 1980 on the Dover-Calais service. One of a series of four similar ships to be produced by the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the ‘Anselm’ and her twin sister St Christopher were Sealink’s response to the freight challenge and passenger demands of the 1980s. The other pair, the Galloway Princess and St David were delivered for Irish Sea operations, although the latter did see periods running out of Dover in the early/mid 1980s. Reportedly during the planning process for the Dover ships, railway management did not consider a requirement for a passenger capacity greater than just 600 people in the mistaken belief that Sealink’s associated hovercraft operation, Seaspeed, would transport the majority of passenger traffic; this original misconception was corrected such that they actually entered service with capacity for 1,000 passengers, but this was still never entirely satisfactory and the two ships underwent a series of refits and rebuildings seemingly constantly through the 1980s both before and after privatisation in 1984, to make them a better fit for the burgeoning traffic they were expected to handle. [text continues on page 2]
Above: The four ships of the Saint class being worked on at the Belfast yard of Harland & Wolff during 1980. From left to right, Galloway Princess, St Christopher, St Anselm and St David. Click the picture for a larger image.
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Above: The St Anselm touches the water for the first time.
Above & below: Two images of the launch of St Anselm on 5 December 1979, 24 hours after she had been named by Lady Parker, wife of the BR Chairman. The launching had been postponed due to gale force winds on the scheduled day.
Above: The newly-delivered St Anselm undergoing berthing trials at Dover.
Above & below: Although hardly classically attractive, the Dover Saints, particularly in their original livery and before the additions at the stern, were powerful and business-like in appearance.
Above & below: In service, the two new ships were promoted as the key elements of Sealink's new 'Flagship Service', going head to head with the rival Townsend Thoresen operation with their three new 'Spirit' class 'Blue Riband Service'.
Above & below: Two views of the St Anselm arriving at Calais early in her career.
Above: The St Anselm powering across the Channel during her first season.
Above & below: With privatisation imminent, the two Saints lost the BR double arrow logos from their funnels in early 1984. They did not however received the full new livery in its initial guise in time for that Summer season and would both subsequently materialise instead with the slightly modified version including the new 'British Ferries' suffix. By 1986 the Calais route was being promoted as 'The Key to the Continent'.
Above: In March 1983 the St Anselm was returned to the yard of her builders for a £750,000 refit which saw the aft superstructure on the Boat Deck being extended. This primarily entailed a significant extension to the ship's shopping facilities with a self-service Duty Free supermarket being (finally) installed. Picture courtesy Andrew Orr
Above: St Anselm in the late 1980s.