The pre Euro Tunnel train to Paris...

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west point

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In February or early March 1912 ancestors Gr Grandfather, wife, daughter, and son went to England and then caught ferry for a train to Germany. After visiting various family there returned to England to catch an ocean liner to the USA. However somewhere between the continental ferry and the train to the ocean liner they were delayed and fortunately missed the Titanic. Any idea what boat(s) they might have taken to / from England?
 

Willbridge

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What route/ferry would my family likely have taken from London to either Paris or Brussels (I can't remember which we went to first) in late '76? I remember either waking up or my father waking me up when we were on the ferry in our sleeper.
This would have been on the train named the Night Ferry. It carried cars for Paris and for Brussels from London's Victoria Station. The ferry portion carried the railway cars between Dover and Dunkerque.

This video might interest you...
 

cirdan

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This would have been on the train named the Night Ferry. It carried cars for Paris and for Brussels from London's Victoria Station. The ferry portion carried the railway cars between Dover and Dunkerque.

This video might interest you...


If this happened in 1912 it would have been prior to the introduction of the train ferry. They probably went on a boat train.
 

JontyMort

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In February or early March 1912 ancestors Gr Grandfather, wife, daughter, and son went to England and then caught ferry for a train to Germany. After visiting various family there returned to England to catch an ocean liner to the USA. However somewhere between the continental ferry and the train to the ocean liner they were delayed and fortunately missed the Titanic. Any idea what boat(s) they might have taken to / from England?
In 1912 they would certainly have taken the train from London to whichever port, then crossed by the ferry (as foot passengers) and then caught another train. There would have been several viable routes, really depending on the sea crossing taken.

The most likely route for Germany would have been from Liverpool Street to Harwich Parkeston Quay (built by the Great Eastern in the 1880s for this traffic), then the ferry to Hook of Holland (near Rotterdam), picking up a train again from there to Germany. Through cars would certainly have been run from Hook of Holland to Berlin and probably Frankfurt. This would have been the longest ferry crossing, but in a way that was an advantage, since the ferry was* scheduled overnight, making a cabin on the ship desirable for those who could afford it.

*and indeed still is - this remains a perfectly reasonable route for the traditionally-minded.

They might alternatively have crossed the channel at its narrowest point - via Dover or Folkestone to Boulogne or Calais in France, then on by train. These crossings were and are a lot shorter - about an hour and a half - but the train section would have been longer.

Since they missed the Titanic, my guess - but only a guess - is that they were on the Harwich route, on the basis that it might have been easier to recover from a problem if they were coming via France (there being more sailings on the shorter routes).

Both the Great Western (to/from Paddington to Plymouth and Falmouth) and the London and South Western (to/from Waterloo to Plymouth) ran Ocean Specials to connect with the transatlantic traffic, for passengers and - especially - the mail from New York. Getting the mail through in competition with the GWR may have contributed to the LSWR’s wreck of its Ocean Special at Salisbury in 1906. This happened on the very day that the GWR opened its cutoff from Castle Cary to Taunton, shortening its route by 20 miles.

Titanic sailed from Southampton. This was something of a novelty in 1912 - White Star had moved their main operations from Liverpool to Southampton only in 1907, and Cunard did not do so until 1919. There would certainly have been several special connecting trains from Waterloo.

If you add in the Irish Mail from Euston to Holyhead - for Dublin - boat trains of one description or another must have been quite busy in the early 20th century.
 

cirdan

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There was also a second boat train connection to Ireland. The Great Western refused to sit back and idly let the L&NWR monopolize the lucrative Irish traffic and a ferry was introduced between Fishguard (in Wales) and Rosslare (in Ireland). The ferries were operated in-house by the Great Western with the onward connection to Dublin by the D&SWR (I think). The Great Western had to build a line to Fishguard and a harbor especially for this purpose, which involved a lot of dynamiting through unfriendly and rough terrain.

Further places where trains interconnected with ferries were Stanraer (for the Hebrides) and also the ferry to the Isle of Wight which did and still does connect to trains at both ends. Most of the channel ports had trains connecting directly with ferries. Most famous was Weymouth where trains had to negotiate street running tracks.
 

JontyMort

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There was also a second boat train connection to Ireland. The Great Western refused to sit back and idly let the L&NWR monopolize the lucrative Irish traffic and a ferry was introduced between Fishguard (in Wales) and Rosslare (in Ireland). The ferries were operated in-house by the Great Western with the onward connection to Dublin by the D&SWR (I think). The Great Western had to build a line to Fishguard and a harbor especially for this purpose, which involved a lot of dynamiting through unfriendly and rough terrain.

Further places where trains interconnected with ferries were Stanraer (for the Hebrides) and also the ferry to the Isle of Wight which did and still does connect to trains at both ends. Most of the channel ports had trains connecting directly with ferries. Most famous was Weymouth where trains had to negotiate street running tracks.
Yes, the Fishguard-Rosslare route was a joint venture between the Great Western in Britain and the Great Southern and Western in Ireland - which had a line from Dublin to Rosslare Harbour (now in a sad state south and west of Wexford - see the thread on Irish Railways). Both harbours and their connecting lines opened as late as 1906. Neither port was (or is) ideal as a natural harbour, but at least Fishguard had the advantage of avoiding the passage round St David’s Head from the GWR’s original terminus at Neyland on Milford Haven - which faces south rather than west.

As you say, much dynamiting was required - mainly, I think, for the creation of the harbour itself (the line itself doesn’t have too much trouble getting through).

The other major port for the traffic to Ireland was the Midland’s harbour at Heysham - near Lancaster - which served the Isle of Man as well as Belfast and Dublin. This opened in 1904.

Neither of these was anything like as convenient or important as the route via Holyhead to Dublin. For this, Robert Stephenson’s fantastic tubular bridge across the Menai Strait had been built as early as 1850. The bridge survives - though sadly (as with his similar Victoria Bridge at Montreal) not in original form.

A minor correction about Stranraer. This - in essence the south-westerly point in Scotland - is the port for Larne in Northern Ireland, across the deceptively narrow looking North Channel. Take you sea-sick pills on this one!

Street running at Weymouth is sadly gone - never to return, because the track has been lifted. It required bells on the locomotives - unique in British practice - and usually had someone walking in front of the train. At that speed, pedestrians were not a problem, but the owners of badly-parked cars occasionally got a fright.
 

west point

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Gentlemen thanks very much. I am going to print this all out and pass it on to my children. Again thanks.
If anything else please pass it on. One item I believe that the Grandfather was from southern Germany but have not completely verified that. He emigrated about 1893?
 

cirdan

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Gentlemen thanks very much. I am going to print this all out and pass it on to my children. Again thanks.
If anything else please pass it on. One item I believe that the Grandfather was from southern Germany but have not completely verified that. He emigrated about 1893?

A lot of Germans who emigrated went through the port of Cuxhafen. There is a museum there today that commemorates this. I haven't been there myself but have been told that it's well worth visiting. It may be a long shot but maybe somebody there can help you with your enquiries.
 
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This would have been on the train named the Night Ferry. It carried cars for Paris and for Brussels from London's Victoria Station. The ferry portion carried the railway cars between Dover and Dunkerque.

Thanks, then we would have gone that way whether or not our final destination was France or Belgium.

BTW side bar/note question. Where was there a train ferry in Norway? I can't picture anywhere there would have been one - I don't imagine that the Oslo-Kiel or Denmark ferries had train accommodation - I've been on the car ferry Oslo-Kiel and back (as well as the ill-fated Estonia from Stockholm to Tallinn).
 

JontyMort

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BTW side bar/note question. Where was there a train ferry in Norway? I can't picture anywhere there would have been one - I don't imagine that the Oslo-Kiel or Denmark ferries had train accommodation - I've been on the car ferry Oslo-Kiel and back (as well as the ill-fated Estonia from Stockholm to Tallinn).
There was one from Kristiansand in Norway to Hirtshals in Denmark (at the north end of Jutland). Within Norway there was also the Tinnsjø ferry - as featured (in a fictionalised version of real events) being blown up by Kirk Douglas in the film The Heroes of Telemark.
 
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There was one from Kristiansand in Norway to Hirtshals in Denmark (at the north end of Jutland). Within Norway there was also the Tinnsjø ferry - as featured (in a fictionalised version of real events) being blown up by Kirk Douglas in the film The Heroes of Telemark.
Ah, the Kristiansand ferry was freight only (no wonder I'd never heard of it). Looks like the Telemark ferry was discontinued before my time (never been to that part of Norway anyways) - I'd totally forgotten about that one.
 
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Yes, the train ran as a single consist on the English side, and certainly on the ferry. I think the two portions were joined/divided at Lille, so ran as a single train between Dunkerque and Lille.
Yes, when I took the Night Ferry in 1971 our coach from Dunquerque was detached from the Paris bound train at Lille where we were picked up an hour or two later by a Brussels bound train. I did not stay on until Brussels but embarked at Metz to catch a Frankfurt bound train.

The other major port for the traffic to Ireland was the Midland’s harbour at Heysham - near Lancaster - which served the Isle of Man as well as Belfast and Dublin. This opened in 1904.

Neither of these was anything like as convenient or important as the route via Holyhead to Dublin. For this, Robert Stephenson’s fantastic tubular bridge across the Menai Strait had been built as early as 1850. The bridge survives - though sadly (as with his similar Victoria Bridge at Montreal) not in original form.

In 1971 when I was in Britain, there had been a fire on the Menai Bridge so all boat train traffic to Holyhead was diverted to Heysham. BR even had a special interim timetable published which I still have somewhere.
 

JontyMort

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I have passed through Lille many times on the Eurostar, and before that on pre-TGV Paris - Brussels service.
In 1971 when I was in Britain, there had been a fire on the Menai Bridge so all boat train traffic to Holyhead was diverted to Heysham. BR even had a special interim timetable published which I still have somewhere.
Sadly, that was the 1970 fire that destroyed Robert Stephenson’s original tubular - in effect box girder - structure on the Britannia Bridge. It was rebuilt to a different design, using his original piers, and later a road was put on top of the railway. You couldn’t accuse Stephenson of having under-engineered the piers. The same also applies at Montreal, where the original piers now carry cantilevered roadways as well as the rails. The original tubes were removed from the Victoria Bridge in Montreal relatively early. The bridge at Conwy retains Stephenson’s original tubes. The Britannia Bridge - unlike the other two - was spectacular because of its height - insisted on by the admiralty to allow shipping to pass through the strait.
 

Willbridge

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I have passed through Lille many times on the Eurostar, and before that on pre-TGV Paris - Brussels service.
Riding Cologne>Paris overnight in December 1969 -- the last English-speaking passenger left my 2nd class compartment at Lille. He was a Canadian chartered accountant. It was still dark, but it was reassuring a bit later that all the UHF tv antennas were pointed in the direction that we were going. I slept fitfully, excited to be on my first trip to France.

Later, I wrote to my family, reporting that Belgium seemed like a nice country, but it was dark the whole way across it.
 

cirdan

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I have passed through Lille many times on the Eurostar, and before that on pre-TGV Paris - Brussels service.

I attended a conference at the university there once.

Items of transit interest in the city are the VAL driverless metro system and also the streetcars.

I believe the Pelfort beer which is popular throughout France comes from there as well.
 
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