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Welcome to the home page of the Dover Steamship Company. An organisation based in the Gateway to Britain-Dover, it is our intention to save the very last surviving purpose- built steam turbine car ferry TSS ‘Dover’ from the threat of the breakers on the River Tees at Middlesbrough. The locals on Teesside know her as the night club ship ‘Tuxedo Royale’. Unfortunately her operators went into bankruptcy several years ago leaving her as an owner less negative asset. Currently she is sunk in the shallows, at her moorings on Central Quay, Middlehaven -just down stream from the famous Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge. Persons or persons unknown illegally accessed the ship during early May 2011 and removed vital fittings which caused her to take on water and settle to the river bed.

(c) Don Smith/Pictureships Courtesy of Justin Merrigan

Against all the odds we are projecting the acquisition of this beleaguered vessel and creating a mammoth maritime skills regeneration and training programme around her restoration to full seagoing status. The  idea is that all the heavy engineering (hull and machinery) will be undertaken on Teesside, then the fitting out and commissioning would take place at Dover. It is hoped that marine engineering students and apprentices from Teeside and Dover will be able to move between both areas to facilitate the required diversity and excellence in their training. When TSS ‘Dover’ finally becomes operational as a coastal steamer and training vessel, suitable engineering and navigation cadets from both locations will have the opportunity to crew her.

(c) Richard Moffatt

The first task of course is to get her refloated. We have been talking to the MOD marine and salvage team whom we hope will act for us under favourable terms. According to her most recent survey she is described as having a basically sound hull and most certainly her sinking was not connected with some kind of structural failure or breach. Indeed all the British Railways vessels were built to a very high specification. Next we need to get her moved to a nearby dry dock as soon as possible.

Since we first registered an interest in the vessel, have we been closely liaising with PD Ports who are the freeholders and main operators of the harbour facilities on Teesside. We also have dialogue with Able UK who lease Central Quay which is occupied by the vessel.

At a meeting of stake holders (including Dover Steamship Company) it was decided that to decommission Dover/Tuxedo would cost in excess of double the scrap value of the vessel and therefore make this course of action untenable. It was agreed that our project to refloat and restore the ship via a maritime skills training scheme was the preferred option and moves should be made to access the necessary funding.

(c) Richard Moffatt

A  mile or so downstream on the south bank of the Tees are the former Smith’s Dry Docks. Of the four docks extant, 3 are operated by A&P ship repairers and the other is retained by the freeholders PD Ports as non- operational and in need of repairs. They have indicated that they would allow us to use this dock if the funding can be found to fund the refurbishment of the dock gates.

We certainly have our work cut out –raising the money for our apprenticeship scheme, materials and parts for the ship and repairing the dry dock. Our negotiations continue with the powers that be on Teesside. In Dover the powers that be are standing by-looking forward to a new way of running their port, wit TSS Dover providing a centrepiece for the inspiration for regeneration.

We estimate that the bottom line figure for restoring TSS Dover to her former glory to be £14,000,000 . We’ve a long way to go-but it’s perfectly attainable. Please assist us in any way you can, you could become a member, make a donation or even do both. Either way your actions will be much appreciated.

At the outset of the 21st century, the future looked promising for the surviving classic vessels. World recession and misplaced campaign strategies have led to several dramatic disappointments-don’t let a gem like TSS Dover suffer the same fate. Moreover we have a unique opportunity to buck the prevailing trend and train hundreds of youngsters in what are disappearing practical skills in marine engineering. Indeed we have the chance to kick start a renaissance in ship building in the North East and assist in the re-establishment of  a centre for maritime excellence in Dover.

Don’t let future generations from the north east and the south east say ‘They didn’t do enough’. Lets give them the creative inspiration  to carry on the good work!