Cross-channel passenger ferry 'Leopold II' (1892)

Scale: 1:48. The model of 'Leopold II' (1892) is the product of William Denny and Brothers’ highly talented modelmakers and was in the shipyard’s possession until the company closed in 1963. Parts of the model have been unsympathetically repainted in more recent times but this does not detract from its quality and our appreciation of it. Panelling on doors and deckhouses has been meticulously rendered in penwork and windows have been glazed, with curtains and blinds painted on the inside of the glass, to great effect, emphasizing the amount of glass area that the public rooms contained. Fittings and equipment have all been made to a very high standard. Along the full length of the promenade deck we can see skylights, benches, capstans, windlasses, awning frames, and a host of other details.

‘Leopold II’ herself was built for the Belgian States Railways to operate on the Dover – Ostend cross-Channel route and we can see, superbly carved on each paddle box, the Belgian royal crest. The conditions laid down in the contract to build the vessel were very stringent. The cost was set at £7900. She was to be delivered at Ostend on 31 March 1893 with a penalty of £40 per day for late delivery. Speed was to be 21 knots with a penalty of £5000 per knot below the agreed service speed but a premium of £7500 would be paid for every knot above it. During her trials she attained a speed of 21.95 knots.

The accommodation was spacious with a separate saloon and boudoir for ladies. The deckhouse abaft the after funnel contained a large special cabin for the sole use of the King of the Belgians. The main saloon was panelled in teak and furnished with marble-topped tables with bronze legs. The vessel was 340 feet in length, 1892 gross registered tons and the engines were of the compound diagonal type, developing 8800 horsepower. It must have been an exhilarating experience to lean over the guard rails and see the paddles at speed churning up the waters of the English Channel. She remained in service until 1920.

Object Details

ID: SLR1237
Collection: Ship models
Type: Full hull shipbuilder’s exhibition model
Display location: Not on display
Creator: William Denny and Brothers Limited
Vessels: Leopold II (1892)
Date made: circa 1892
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall model: 730 x 2320 x 485 mm

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