Plans for a ferry for Folkestone.

In July 1940 Alois Schicklguber made plans to prepare ferries in secret on the side of the channel with the aim to commence sailings for Folkestone possibly as soon as the third week of August. The craft planned were not to the style of the conventional cross channel ferry, but of a shallow draft catamaran ferry of a Scandinavian design, known as a "Siebel ferry". The construction of the ferries is based on two steel hulls of around 80 feet long, each with a single engine driving a screw propeller, alternatively large outboard motors propelling the craft at speeds of around 12 knots. The pontoon hulls are to be joined together by possibly a wooden platform strengthened by lattice bracing. The ferries are planned be able to do one crossing a day in around 2½ hours. They did not have any onboard amenities and were not designed to operate in rough seas. It is anticipated that in the preliminary crossings over six hundred vehicles and around 90,000 passengers will use the ferries. Later the services will cater for around 160,000 passengers.

The plans for a Folkestone ferry crossing were a crucial part of Hitler’s “Operation Sea lion”, - the invasion of Britain. Like today the operators of the ferries knew that they would not welcome at the port, so the Germans built craft that did not have to use to British ports and harbours as they were designed to be able to use the beaches.

Seventy years later, Two Germans and a Frenchman crossed the Channel in their version of a craft similar to a Siebel ferry. The journey from France took nine hours to get across to Folkestone Harbour, and then on their arrival, as if it had been in the days of 1940, they were not made welcome - the Germans and a Frenchman was arrested! Click here for details

Alois Schicklguber, would have been impressed with the DeHaan “Masterplan Mk.1” and “Masterplan Mk.2”. He had tried for years to stop the ferries sailing from Folkestone, but had only failed.

 

Some of the above seems to be based around the owner of the Port of Folkestone 2010 terms and conditions for ferry operators, titled “A new ferry route for Folkestone and Boulogne-sur-Mer?” as reported by Gabrielle Wilson dated 5th May 2010.

The considerations and stipulations to allow a ferry route for Folkestone and Boulogne-sur-Mer to return, that have to be met before the port owner will consider a ferry service to use his port are-

- A foot-passenger only ferry service, with a maximum 250 seat capacity.

- The service will take approx 2½ hours to make the crossing plus a half hour to embark and disembark passengers.

- Half the seats would be on an upper external deck.

- Passengers would have no amenities and would need to be seated throughout the journey.

- The vessel will not operate in rough seas.

The above cross-channel operational specifications was taken from Roger De Haan’s Folkestone Harbour Company’s ‘Public Consultation Period’, seafront proposals put forward by Sir Terry Farrell in 2010. The imposed constraint on the type of vessels and operation that the port owner would allow a cross channel ferry operation to take place were seemly considered by them to be too extreme and unworkable, as the Folkestone Harbour Company's spokesman Trevor Minter said in May 2010 regarding the above specifications for ferry operators that, ‘the reintroduction of cross-Channel ferries was not viable’.

These unworkable restrictions from the owner of Folkestone port which were disclosed in May 2010 could have been challenged by the Councils, councillors, and the former and current Folkestone and Hythe Member of Parliament, as well as being challenged across the other side of the channel . Logically in 2010 was the time for any sensible discussions on the return of the town’s ferry services to take place. Sadly sensible people did not talk sensibly on ferry services and operations from the Port of Folkestone, based on facts, not fantasy, to enable the return of all of Folkestone Car ferry services, especially the famously historic Folkestone –Boulogne route.

Before anything can be considered we need to see the return of our town’s ferry services as they were before James Sherwood had obtained control over the Port and ferry services. The port facilities that were removed should be immediately restored, but better facilities than before. Roger de Haan made a promise to do this, but did not give a date when.

In August 2004 the order was given to destroy and remove the port facilities, and has taken so far over the nine years, to get around rebuilding and replacing the essential port and cross-channel ferry facilities.

Shepway District Council kept letting things get worse, they did not take action against the owner to support safeguarding the potential to restart passenger ferries, new employment opportunities and the retention of Folkestone Harbour railway station” - Maybe SDC should do a 'Compulsory Purchase' in the best interests of all in our Harbour town and beyond?

Over the course of 29 years the owner of the port has been getting away with doing what he wants to ensure that ferries will not return to Folkestone, so that the port operational land can be turned over into wasteland, ready for the housing developers to purchase. (Click on the picture below for more)

The only craft that could be used at Folkestone without having to find a berth at the town’s harbour would have to make use the town's foreshore. So could a modern version of the Siebel ferry meet today's Channel challenge?

It would seem that there are some that cannot wait, and are taking a lot of effort in 2011 on Folkestone’s seafront to welcome the new venture!

As 2011 draws to a close it is time to end a decade or more of the silly ideas promoted by those who acquired the town’s harbour that Folkestone does not need its port, to move forward. Urgent attention needs to be carried out to repair the damage of getting rid of the cross channel ferry services and the ferry facilities, and the ferry port operational land could cleared for the port owners various failed get rich quick property ideas.

It might seem to some that it is time for a token gesture. A ruse, to create a sacrificial ferry venture purposely for the main propose to create a loss, so that the port owner can then claim that a ferry service was tried but failed, to enable any remaining port assets to be stripped and essential operational land turned over used for other uses. There are scams and scoundrels about that also take advantage of a community’s hope, for the return of the ferry services characters such as John Paul Airs and allegedly a £1.6million Boulogne ferry scam.

The sixty year old Siebel ferry design may not be a practical answer to a port owner refusing conventional car ferry vessels to use the port of Folkestone. The Paddle steamer "Waverley" had arranged to use the port in July 2008 but just days before the ship was to arrive, the Waverley Trust were refused to entry to the Port, to pick up passengers for a trip around Kent to London Bridge and the Dome, the trust had to arrange for a coach to collect people at the harbour and take them to Whitstable to join the ship there. The trust did try to get access to the port the following years for their ships but without success.

Certain types of paddle steamers could provide a nostalgic day out picking up passengers from the beach, but this would create a nightmare for Health & Safety, and insurance cover would rule this out .Therefore unless the port owner can be persuaded or forced to allow the return of the cross channel car ferries back to the port? Then a craft of a certain design is needed to confirm and comply with harbour owners policy ideas no matter how unreasonable or silly they appear to be.

It would seem that around May 2010, allegedly Frédéric Cuvillier the Mayor of Boulogne was involved in discussions with Roger De Haan, according to Gabrielle's reporting they came up with the following excuse in the May 2010, not to re-open the Car ferry services between the two towns, “Given The lack of infrastructure at Folkestone Harbour, it would not be feasible to operate a cross channel service for vehicles”. No mention that the owner of the port had deliberately removed these facilities, because he wanted the car ferry services banned forever from the port, to made way for housing. Shepway District Council officers or any of the councillors did not stop him from carrying this out, even when the council’s ‘Local plan’ was to safeguard these cross channel car ferry facilities. Likewise the local Member of Parliament also seemly turned a blind eye to all that was happening to our town’s harbour.

The 2010 Gabrielle report from Mr De Haan’s team, claimed as a result of the ferry facilities being effectively destroyed, it was ‘therefore envisaged a summer service for foot passengers.’ The report goes on to say that “Folkestone Harbour would need massive investment to bring it to minimum standards to receive passengers”, but this and other works it had been claimed would be undertaken at the port as the press statement of 17th January 2005 had announced. So why five years on from these promises has the owner not been completed the work? Furthermore in 2005 according to the Folkestone Harbour Company, ‘three berths are able to accommodate ships of up to four metre draught, combined with increasing demand, the port owners are planning to introduce two further berths to accept larger vessels of six to seven metre draught’. In the Wilson 2010 technical survey report, it is claimed that, “Dredging of the harbour would be needed before vessels could use it’. However the Coastguard vessel can make use of the railway pier at low water and tug “Anglican Monarch” has a draught of 6.8 meters, but the paddle steamer “Waverley” which the harbour officers claim could not use port to embark and discharge passengers has a draught of just 2.1 meters, using the same berth, so the idea that the paddle steamer could not use Folkestone because of the need for dredging is ridiculous.

Roger De Haan is a multi-millionaire but seemly afford or want to pay for the basic annual dredging of harbour, which he has until now got away with.The Gabrielle report implies that the port owner might consider, a summer only small foot passenger service for a vessel not exceeding 250 passengers, with 125 seats on the external deck. (On a conventional ship on the Dover-Calais service, foot passengers might average around 10% of the passengers. that could be carried. Alaso certain newspapers have special fare offers for foot passenger of just one pound, - so who would come to Folkestone instead, and pay more for less!)

The Roger De Haan's Gabrielle report demands that the vessel will have no amenities, and the passengers will have to be seated throughout the journey which should take two and a half hours with half an hour to embark and disembark passengers, the ferry will be equipped to only operate in calm seas.

A small design model of the craft that might well tick all boxes of the Wilson report has recently undergone some water trials. If further tests are successful then a full scale version of the prototype model could be constructed the craft, featuring a low cost energy source propulsion system which would be sufficiently slow for the Gabrielle Wilson report requirement. The ferry is a toy, which might be able to cross the width of the bath without sinking, but a full scale version to cross the channel!

The above might look like the preparations of some clandestine night time operation, but it is an obvious 'windup', like the 2010 'Wilson Report'? Surely those who read it cannot take it seriously. We need the return of all the car ferry services, back to Folkestone harbour, not more creative folly.

It is time to end more of a decade of the promotion of silly ideas that Folkestone does not need its port to move forward. The damage of getting rid of the cross channel ferry services so that the operational land could be cleared for failed get rich quick property schemes has been done, it is now time to build new. Folkestone has a great little harbour for sensible ferry operations, not silly craft; - let’s use the port of Folkestone for what it was built for.

Action needs to be taken in regard to those people who allowed the destruction of the town’s port so that they cannot look the other way or allow anymore damage to be done. That which has been sabotaged, the port owner needs to keep his 2005 promise to rebuild. So the majority of those living in Folkestone can look forward to the coming New Year with hope for 2014, and that generations to come will have that future that we did not.

On 9th December 2011, Roger De Haan's Folkestone Seafront "Masterplan IV", was made public.

(Click on the drawing below for more info.)

Around 2011 years ago, an inn keeper said that there was no room in the inn and to go away, and a stable was used to give birth to the Christ child.

Christmastime 2011, the port owner said that there is no room for cross-channel ferries get a berth and there was nowhere to stable a ferry operation at Folkestone’s ferry port.

No doubt this is someone’s idea of a comical joke! -they can’t be serious?