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Royal Daffodil (1939); Passenger vessel

Passenger vessels

Object connections:

Collection Passenger vessels, Ship models
Gallery locationNot on display
VesselsRoyal Daffodil 1939

Object details:

Object ID SLR1547
Description Scale: 1:48. An unusual and slightly disappointing model for the Denny Brothers’ modelmaking workshop to turn out. Perhaps due to the impending prospect of war, it is not quite up to that shipyard’s usual standards and has been made as a waterline, rather than a full hull, model. It has been mounted by the Museum on a textured glass base to simulate water. Some of the deck fittings are no more than shaped and painted wood blocks, mere suggestions of what they represent. Nevertheless it is a bright, cheerful, model commensurate with the type of vessel it depicts. The pale yellow funnels, white and green hull, and cream-coloured upperworks remind us of the bygone age of pleasure steamers that once carried holiday-makers and day-trippers up and down the River Thames and further afield. 'Royal Daffodil' was a twin-screw excursion passenger vessel built for the General Steam Navigation Company who paid £135,658.3s.0d for her. She was designed for the Company’s summer service in the Thames Estuary and across the English Channel to ports between the Hook of Holland and Cherbourg, in France. Depending on her period of operation she carried between 2060 and 2396 single-class passengers and she could accommodate, at any one time, 286 people in her two dining saloons. We can see from the model that the ship’s main deck had a long, straight, section amidships to assist in mooring at Margate Pier. She was also wider than her predecessors to provide passengers with extra promenade space, and to reduce rolling. She had a bow rudder and, for safety, ten watertight compartments, of which any two could be flooded without risk of her sinking. 'Royal Daffodil' was delivered in March 1939 and had only one season of normal operation before the outbreak of the Second World War. She made no less than seven trips to Dunkirk in 1940, and rescued up to 9500 troops. On the final trip, on 2 June, a bomb went right through her hull and exploded beneath her. The hole was plugged with a mattress and she managed to get safely home. After the War she was returned to her owners, and was refitted in 1947. With a plaque now aboard commemorating her use as a “Dunkirk Little Ship”, she undertook day trips to France from Tilbury or Gravesend, calling at Southend and Deal in later years. She continued in this service until 1966 and was broken up in the Netherlands the following year.
Date made circa 1939

Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials wood; organic: cotton; metal: brass; metal: copper; synthetic: plastic
Measurements Overall: 500 x 1995 x 310 mm
  • Royal Daffodil (1939); Passenger vessel (SLR1547)
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