Guernsey to Alderney and Sark post 1945

                                Company Histories


The main thrust of the Military services after Liberation were towards Alderney which had been devastated by the German occupation, while Sark needed support basic transport support.  

The Military provided the initial service from Guernsey to Alderney using a number of vessels, the fast launch GUILLEMOT (on which the Alderney Government returned on December 2 1945), ANQUITELLA and ADC 638 being three of them.

Alderney people returned on three sailings of AUTOCARRIER on 15, 22 and 28 December 1945.

On July 4 1946 it was announced that a temporary service for civil passengers and cargo would operate twice a week using R.A.S.C. M.V. 48 which could carry 25 passengers, and would be under the control of the Guernsey Harbour Authority

The service was increased to three sailings a week a month later, and the following month the larger M.F.V. 1502 was introduced. Able to carry more passengers the vessel operated to Sark on Wednesdays and Fridays and to Alderney on Mondays and Thursday returning on Friday.

The service to Alderney was still free, but was commercial to Sark with J. W. Lucas being the Agent. The vessel broke down on March 1 1947, and on March 17 HERM COAST took over the routes.

A larger vessel the M.F.V. 1502 took over the service in September 1946 and remained until she broke down in March 1947, the service then being taken over by a local company.

GUILLEMOT  Fast launch             1945

ANQUITELLA                              1945   July 45


ADC 638                                        1945  used on Alderney service.

MV 48                                   7.1946 - 9.1946

M.F.V. 1502                           9.1946 - 3.1947


              ADC 638    is to be scrapper (November 30 1946)

              Ammunition Disposal craft.



PARKSTONE        Carter   April 24 1946  started on Alderney run

                                     Inter-Island Services Ltd.     1946

The company was registered in Guernsey on May 18 1946 with nominal capital of £75,000 and Mr. T. L. Penny of Guernsey being the owner. His English address was given as The Oasis, Sandringham Garden, Paignton, Devon.

The company purchased an ex Canadian minesweeper, and she arrived in Guernsey on June 16 1946 as THE LADY PATRICA, and commenced operating to Sark and Alderney. The vessel having a wooden hull, the Board of Trade would not grant a passenger certificate, thus the ship left Guernsey bound for Torquay on August 9 1946.

The company announced plans on October 9 1946 to introduce a new vessel for the following year, THE SISTER PAT which was built of steel and able achieve 18 knots, but nothing further was heard.

THE LADY PATRICA                 1946


                             Island Shipping Company Ltd.        1947

In the summer of 1946 Mr. Francis Newell and Commander Ted Stokes made a cruise in Channel Islands waters, and while at Sark were made aware of the need for a shipping service to the island. Upon their return to England they purchased a small landing (LCGM) and put in hand its conversion into a passenger / cargo vessel. The cost of the work soared and they were forced to seek the backing of the British Channel Islands Sg. Co. Ltd.

On February 21 1947 the Island Shipping Company Ltd. was registered in Guernsey with the two founders holding only £6,600 of the £30,000 capital.

Note – the BCIS board meeting on 27th August 1947, the company had purchased 23,400 shares, and at their meeting of 2nd June 1948 the minutes states a further 100 shares had been purchased in March, and a further 500 more in May.

The Island Shipping Co. Ltd. thus became a subsidiary of B.C.I.S., and was placed under their management at their Guernsey office.

The company also purchased an Admiralty MFV, renaming her HERM COAST, and she took up her duties in March 1947, providing a year round passenger / cargo service to both Sark and Alderney.

Conversion of the larger vessel took longer than expected, and thus to provide the summer passenger service to Sark, two small passenger launches were purchased, the ISLE OF HERM and ISLAND COAST until SARK COAST entered service in early September 1947.

The company had lost the majority of the 1947 passenger trade to it’s competitors who operated larger vessels, but they maintained the winter service.

For the summer of 1948 a determined effort was made to consolidate their position, and the company chartered in a larger vessel ROBINA to run with SARK COAST. The vessel duly entered service on June 1, but five days later disaster struck, when she and HERM COAST were in collision in the Goulet Passage at Sark. HERM COAST just managed to make Creux Harbour where she sank.

This proved to be the final straw for the company, ROBINA returned to England for repair but was not seen again, while HERM COAST was patched up, and also taken to England and after repairs was sold.

At the end of the season SARK COAST  was withdrawn, leaving Guernsey on November 24 1948, and the company withdrew from the service.

SARK COAST was transferred to Coast Lines Ltd (the parent company of BCIS) on 31 December 1949,

The company remained registered in Guernsey, and in 1951 at the Board meeting held on August 24, B.C.I.S minutes record the sale of 24,000 shares to Mr. Charles Barnett for the nominal sum of £50, but the company debts were £92,943.13s.0d which were written off.

Acquired by Mr. Charles Barnett as part of the monopoly situation, the company was then used to provide the tramp shipping requirements of the islands, leaving Commodore Shipping free for the regular passenger/cargo service, and the subsequent history of the Company is to be found in the cargo section.

The company was finally wound up August 8 1967

ALLANA  Launch.         Arrived on May 8 1947 being renamed ISLAND                                            COAST by May 29

ISLE OF HERM  Launch . Arrived by May 25 1947,  sold Jan 18 1951

HERM COAST                  Arrived March 15 1947,  June 1948     

SARK COAST                  9.8.1947 - 11.1948   Sold 5.1950

ROBINA                            Chartered June 1948


                                         Sark Projects Ltd.          1947

The company was formed early in 1947 by Mr. A. E. Hussey of Steeple Ashton, Nr Trowbridge, Wilts, and Mr. R. W. Winter. On April 22 1947 plans were announced to acquire the 120’ LOCH ALINE which was able to carry 350 passengers.

This plan fell through, and on May 16 it was announced that the well known steamed COURIER was to be purchased, and she arrived in Guernsey July 11 1947, being joined on September 9 by the chartered RED COMMODORE.

The latter left for Newhaven at the end of October, while COURIER  continued until November 25 when she departed for Shoreham, never to be seen again. Likewise the company did not trade again.

COURIER                                     7.1947 - 11.1947

RED COMMODORE                  9.1947 - 10. 1947    chartered


                               Commodore Cruises Ltd.          1948

The company, No 431649 was registered in London on March 24 1947, with a capital of £50,000, having Mr. Walter T. Fletcher  C.B.E., M.P. as Chairman, and Mr. Charles Barnett as Managing Director.

The Company had offices at 3, Thames House, Queen Street Place, London, E.C.4. and at 2, Terminus Road, Eastbourne, and was formed to provide excursions from holiday resorts in the south-east of England using ex naval Fairmile motor launches.

The first company craft to appear in the Islands was RED COMMODORE which arrived on September 2 1947 on charter to Sark Projects Ltd. The following year the company operated it’s own summer service, and started again in 1949 but it had lost out on it’s bid to provide the monopoly service introduced by Sark’s Chief Pleas, and they had to withdraw in June 1949.

The contract had to go out to tender again early in 1950, and this time it was successful, and there started an enterprise which is still trading today - Condor Ferries.

Commodore Cruises Ltd. commenced their service to Sark on March 27 1950 using Fairmile launch WHITE COMMODORE, which was joined by RED COMMODORE, and to provide the cargo requirement the company chartered a Naval torpedo recovery vessel from the Ministry of Transport, named her ISLAND COMMODORE, arriving in Guernsey on June 8 1950.

Whilst Alderney had passed a similar Monopoly Law as Sark, in June 1950 they were not prepared to grant the operator at the time a Monopoly Licence, resulting in them pulling out. This resulted in Commodore Cruises Ltd being approached to also operate to Alderney, and ISLAND COMMODORE made her first trip there from Guernsey on June 25 1950.

The services to Sark and Alderney then settled down, and the company at times changed there Fairmile vessels around, and when ISLAND COMMODORE had to return to England due to engine problems in early December 1950, her place was taken by sister ship ARROWHEAD which had operated the Alderney service earlier, and she maintained the services until July 1951.  

When The Privy Council would not sanction Sark’s  Monopoly Law of 1949 it resulted an inter-island committee being set up which included Guernsey and was chaired by Guernsey’s Lieut - Governor.

This resulted in the Alderney & Sark (Licensing of Vessels) Law, 1951, and a recommendation that a local company should be set up, and that BCIS(Guernsey) should act as Managers.

As a result  Commodore Shipping Company Ltd. was registered in Guernsey on March 22 1952 with a share issue of £ 20,000, with 14,000 shares being held in the name of the Island Shipping Co. Ltd. (owned by Mr. Charles Barnett) and the remained in the name of Mr. Barnett himself, his address being given as Chateau l'Etoc, Alderney. See later for the history under that name.

Commodore Cruises Ltd. was struck off the register on October 3 1958

RED COMMODORE               9.1947 - 10-1947  Charter to Sark Projects


SILVER COMMODORE             3.1948  - 9.1948

FLEET COMMODORE               6.1948    Only one trip

RED COMMODORE                   7.1948 - 10.1948

WHITE COMMODORE               4.1949 - 6.1949

WHITE COMMODORE               3.1950 - 7.1950

RED COMMODORE                    5.1950 - 7.1950

ISLAND COMMODORE              6.1950 - 12.1950

ARROWHEAD                              6 1950 - chartered to Commodore.

ISLAND COMMODORE              3.1951 -

FLEET COMMODORE                3.1951 -

SILVER COMMODORE              6.1952 -


                                    Motor House Ltd.

                                           F. Cohu

MERRY WIDOW II   June 4  1948 in service  also 1949


1949 May 15. TORBAY BELLE arrived Guernsey. Last day on Sark service

                                                                                                         June 16.

1949 December      Chartered KYANG for emergency cargo service to Sark and                              Alderney when Radcliffe Channel Islands Sg. Co. collapsed.

                       Radcliffe Channel Islands Shipping Co.   1948

Mr. William Radcliffe Metcalfe, of Grove Cottage, Mylor, Cornwall, is first seen in the Channel Islands in July 1948 when his DUNAVON was operating to Alderney. According to later information, he was also operating under his own name at Esplanade Quay, Dover, Kent and at Mylor Dockyard, Flushing, Cornwall.  As Radcliffe Channel Islands Steamship Co., he traded at 12, Custom House Quay, Weymouth, and at White Rock, Guernsey, and was deemed a  Salvage Contractor and Ship Owner.

The name Radcliffe Channel Islands Shipping Co. first appeared when it commenced a passenger / cargo a service from Weymouth to Alderney and Guernsey in 1948 with RADFORD arriving in Guernsey on August 2.

Mr. Metcalfe  had bought a number of former Naval vessels, HMS BASSET on September 13 1947, which was renamed RADFORD; another being H.M.S. BLYTH acquired on May 25 1948, and renamed RADBORNE; and an American built minesweeper BYMS 2001 in 1949 which became the company’s  RADCLIFFE.

RADBORNE arrived at St Sampson’s on November 28 1948 for an extensive refit, and late in May 1949 left for Weymouth to complete the work, but this never happened.

The withdrawal of Island Shipping Ltd. in November 1948, left Sark without a winter service and Sark's Chief Pleas (The Government of the Island) decided to introduce a monopoly service in 1949, and on March 24 selected Radcliffe Channel Islands as the operator, even though they said they would not be ready to start until June 1949.

Radcliffe did react swiftly, and two days later stated that they would place WOODBRIDGE on the service. The vessel did not prove suitable and the company quickly chartered KYANG, and she took up service on April 19 1949, and operated until July 24.

When on June 6 the other operators to Sark withdrew their passenger vessels, Radcliffe had again to quickly charter a vessel to cover, and another Fairmile launch MERRIE GOLDEN HIND took up service on June 17. In the press she was referred to as MERRIE GOLDEN HIND and also GOLDEN HIND which has caused some confusion to historians.

The permanent vessel RADCLIFFE arrived on July 22 1949, replacing KYANG, but MERRIE GOLDEN HIND remained until August 10, no doubt a backup if required.

Radcliffe had stated in their bid that they would provide a cargo vessel, for the service, and was in discussions with the Ministry of Transport about chartering a suitable vessel, and a Torpedo Recovery Vessel was earmarked. An official number was allocated at London for the ship (later to become ISLAND COMMODORE), but before she could be registered,  the company ceased trading, though she was officially on charter to Radcliffe from October 18 1949. On December 6 1949 all services stopped, with RADFORD making her last call on the following day, and RADCLIFFE sailed for Falmouth on December 9. Both ships were then laid up in Falmouth. The company left debts of £92,000, while assets were only £21,045.

Mr. Metcalfe was to remain in shipping, using RADCLIFFE renamed REGENCY BELLE he operated her and another vessel PENDENNIS on excursions along the coast from Brighton. Even when he sold her on January 18 1951, he remained involved, as his name appeared on a bill of sale on May 2 1955.

                                                    Fleet List

DUNAVON                                        6.1948  -    9.1948

RADFORD                                        8.1948  -  12.1949

WOODBRIDGE                        In April 1949 commenced, but was not

                                                   suitable, and was quickly withdrawn.

KYANG                                      April 19 1949 - July 24 1949

MERRIE GOLDEN HIND        June 17 1949  - August 10

RADCLIFFE                               July 22 1949  -  12.1949

                      British Channel Islands Shipping Co. Ltd.   1949

The Company was the parent company of Island Shipping Co. Ltd., and when they ceased trading in November 1948 leaving the Islands without services, B.C.I.Sg stepped in and used CORAL QUEEN to provide a link with Alderney.

The Company also provided an emergency service to Alderney in 1950 when the other operators pulled out. They also continued to call at the island with cargo from London.

The Guernsey office of the Company became Managers for Commodore Shipping Ltd in 1952.

CORAL QUEEN                     1.1949

BRITTANY COAST                1.1950

CHANNEL COAST                 1.1950               

                  Arrow Channel Islands & Coast Lines Ltd.         1950

The company was set up by Mr. Williams to take over the service between Weymouth, Alderney and Guernsey, following the collapse of the Radcliffe Company. The company chartered Torpedo Recovery Vessel T.R.V. 8 from the Ministry of Transport, renamed her ARROWHEAD, and she arrived in Guernsey for the first time on January 14 1950. Alderney unlike Sark were not prepared to grant a monopoly operation to the company, thus they withdrew in June 1950 leaving the Island without any service. Her last trip was on June 16.

ARROWHEAD    ex T.R.V. 8    Chartered from January 6  to  August 16 1950

Last call at Guernsey June 16 1950.                  



                        Island Shipping Co Ltd      Restructured 1952

The company as we have seen became a subsidiary of the British Channel Islands Shipping Co. Ltd., and following introduction of the new monopoly laws in 1951 the company was "sold" to Mr. Charles Barnett, and used to provide the bulk cargo and charter needs of the islands, with the ARROWHEAD being chartered from April 1952.

                  Commodore Shipping Company Ltd       1952

The company was registered in Guernsey on March 22 1952 with a share issue of £ 20,000, with 14,000 shares being held in the name of the Island Shipping Co. Ltd. (owned by Mr. Charles Barnett) and the remained in the name of Mr. Barnett himself, his address being given at Chateau l'Etoc, Alderney.

Its setting up was as mentioned before was due to the legislation enacted which provided for the protection of the shipping services to Alderney and Sark, and one item which complicated the operation was that costs had to be apportioned for the operation to each island so that correct fares and cargo rates could be set. This is one of the reasons why the Island Shipping Company was used for the operation of the ARROWHEAD.

Once formed, the company settled down well and for the next eight years operated as required, but not without problems in dealing with the Islands authorities.  

On July 1 1960 the whole of the share capital of company was purchased by Mr. Mansfield Markham who had moved to Guernsey the previous year, and he had plans to introduce a small high speed passenger vessel, and the gradual replacement of the current fleet.

Mr. Markham set up the Lion Shipping Co in August 1960, which in December that year acquired the passenger vessel COMMODORE QUEEN which from June 1961 was used for excursion work within the Channel Islands and to France. The ship transferred to Commodore Sg in June 1962.

In early 1962 the fleet colors of black hull and cream upper works and funnel (with colored bands in the case of the ISLAND COMMODORE) gave way to a light grey hull, white upper works with a blue funnel, but this was not a success and for the following year dark blue replaced grey on the hulls.

Mr. Markham also had plans to expand the company, and in April 1962, the Company acquired the cross channel cargo service operated between Portsmouth and the islands by the Alderney Tramp Shipping Company. The following month the nominal share capital of Commodore Shipping Co. Ltd.,was increased to £ 60,000, and following this larger vessels for the cross channel trade were purchased and new routes opened.

The company suffered a setback on June 25 1952 when ISLAND COMMODORE sank in St. Peter Port Harbour having just returned from overhaul, but she was raised and back in service on August 3 that year.

On December 14 1963 4,000 shares in the company were issued, 2,000 to Mr. A.G. Norman of Jersey, and 2,000 to Mr. J.F. Norman of Guernsey, (the latter as we shall see gained control of the company in 1966.

Early in 1964 a further expansion took place when the company gained a contract to ship half of Guernsey's tomato exports to England, (this having been the monopoly of the Railways), and January 11 1965, the crew painted a yellow lion on funnel of NORMAN COMMODORE, something which was taken up by the company.

Control of the company changed early in 1966 when Mr. Jack Norman acquiring a majority shareholding, though Mr. Markham remained involved as Chairman until he retired on May 31 1969.

The inter-island services suffered a major set back on June 3 1967, when the ISLAND COMMODORE when starting its engine for a trip to Sark suffered a major breakdown which required a new engine, and she was out of service until March 7 1968. The gap was filled by using the cargo ship NIKE to transport the cargo while COMMODORE QUEEN had to work overtime to maintain the passenger service.

In an effort to find a possible replacement for both vessels the company viewed the Scilly Islands QUEEN OF THE ISLES, and she visited the Channel Islands between on 13 / 15 August 1967, proving that she could halve the time to Alderney of the ISLAND COMMODORE, but various factors including that the owners only wanted to charter out the vessel, meant that she did not enter service.

By 1969 the company had expanded greatly, and with the continued bickering with the Islands over fares and services, the company decided not to seek to renew the licence at the end of September that year.

Faced with this decision, Sark and Alderney decided to go their own ways.The former starting their own shipping company, and the latter using a local company to provide the cargo service, and relying on the newly formed Aurigny Air Services for their passenger transportation.

The ISLAND COMMODORE was sold for further work to Sark, while the COMMODORE QUEEN spent a long time laid up at St Sampson’s before being sold in June 1971.

As we shall see the Commodore Shipping Company re-entered the Channel Islands passenger trade in 1983 when in August they purchased the remaining two thirds shares in Condor Ltd from Mrs. K. Dorey.


ISLAND COMMODORE         1952 - 1969  to Isle of Sark

FLEET COMMODORE           1952 - 1964    Sold 8.6.1965

SILVER COMMODORE          1952 - 1961    Sold 3.2.1962

LINGER                                      1960 -

COMMODORE QUEEN          1962 - 1969   Sold   6.1977


                             Lion Shipping Company Ltd.       1960

The company was registered in Guernsey on August 6 1960 with a nominal share capital of £25,000, with Mr. Mansfield Markham of Courtil Rozel, Mount Durand, St. Peter Port being the owner.

The company acquired the COMMODORE QUEEN from Germany late in 1960 entering service in May 1961 on routes within the Channel Islands and to France. She flew the house flag of a yellow lion on a blue background, the flag being later adopted by the Commodore Shipping Company.

The COMMODORE QUEEN was transferred to the Commodore Sg Co in June 1962, and the company then moved into the finance area, and to reflect this its named was altered in August 1969 to Lion Holdings Ltd, and it still holds shares in the Commodore Shipping Co Ltd.

COMMODORE QUEEN            1961 - 6.1962


                             Aldernsey Shipping Company Ltd.   

            Registered in Alderney 24 January 1969 company number 197

The company was formed to operate a cargo service from Poole to Alderney and onwards to the other Channel Islands as required, and they purchased ALDERNEY TRADER.

As mentioned when Commodore Shipping withdrew from the Islands service, Alderney decided that all they needed was a cargo service, and on September 20 1969, the States of Alderney awarded the licence to the company, but with rates 50% above that charged by Commodore, and they took over on October 1 1969.

The company has held the licence ever since.


                                Sark Shipowners Ltd.


On March 11 1969, Sark Shipowners Ltd was registered in Guernsey with a capital of £10,000. The company was jointly owned by Sark’s Chief Pleas and Mr. Peter S. F. Drake, and was used to finance the purchase of the required vessels for the Isle of Sark Shipping Co. Ltd.

The company purchased ISLAND COMMODORE for the passenger/cargo role, renaming her ILE DE SERK. To cater for the summer passenger needs a vessel was purchased from Torquay and renamed LA DAME DE SERK before entering service in March 1970.

The operating company paid off the remaining debt to Sark Shipowners Ltd at the end of September 1977 and the latter company was wound up the following year.

                                 Isle of Sark Shipping Company Ltd.


When Commodore Shipping announced that they would not seek to renew the license when it became due in 1 October 1969, Sark’s Chief Pleas decided to form their own shipping operation, and entered into an agreement with Mr. Peter Drake to form a joint company.

Peter Drake had the required knowledge as he had headed the inter- island services for Commodore Shipping for a number of years, and he took charge of the operation.

The Isle of Sark Shipping Co. Ltd., was registered in Guernsey on June 10 1969 with a share capital of £2,000, divided equally between Chief Pleas Trustees and Peter Drake. The Chief Pleas Trustees being Dame Sybil Hathaway D.B.E., Mr. Jones (Seneshal)  and Mr. John Peter Guille, (Prevot).

The Isle of Sark Sg, apart from operating the service to Sark also acted as agents for the Alderney Shipping Company, and provided the launch service at Sark for the Condor hydrofoils from 1977 to 1980. The company also acted as general shipping agents and acted as such for the Dutch salvage firm of Wijsmuller when they successfully re-floated the bulk carrier ELWOOD MEAD in 1974 and the oil rig ORION in 1978. It also acts for many of the cruise liners, a trade which has grown over the years.

The company took over the route on October 1 1969, having purchased ISLAND COMMODORE through Sark Shipowners Ltd, from Commodore Shipping, and reamed her ILE DE SERK.

To cater for the summer passenger needs, a vessel was purchased from Torquay and renamed LA DAME DE SERK before entering service in March 1970. Although set up to operate to Sark, an excursion to Alderney was made for a number of years every Sunday during the summer.

The company introduced a small fast launch in 1972, being followed by a further two in the next three years, which allowed LA DAME DE SERK to be sold, and at the end of September 1977 the loan from Sark Shipowners Ltd was paid off.

At the same time the freight rates increased by 33 %,  and the excursion fare rose from £2.25 to £2.80.

The number of tourists to the Channel Islands also started to decline,from the mid 1970’s, this reflected in the summer passenger traveling to Sark, the figures being, 53,589 for 1980 falling to 42,912 the following year.   

It was at this time that the company had to start looking at a replacement for the aging ILE DE SERK, but the cost of a direct replacement was prohibitive, so it was decided to purchase a new larger passenger launch and dedicated cargo vessel.

The matter first was discussed by Chief Pleas on January 21 1981 when it was hoped that the new passenger vessel would be in service for 1982, but they required a full report, and in May they wanted more detailed plans.

All this delayed the project, and it was not until December 10 1981 that Chief Pleas finally agreed to the new passenger launch, by which time the contract price had risen from £850,000 to £870,000, with delivery in mid 1983.

The second part of the replacement programme, to purchase a secondhand cargo vessel; was agreed on September 7 1982, and at the same time that Chief Pleas agreed to purchase a mobile crane to unload the vessel. The cost was to be no more than £50,000, but all this incurred a freight rates rise of 30%.

The first phase of the changes occurred on July 19 1983, when the new mobile crane was transported to Sark, and a month later on August 8 the new passenger vessel BON MARIN DE SERK entered service.

On August 26 it was announced that the the Company were to purchase the small cargo vessel FUNCTION, and she entered service as SARK TRADER on November 29.

With changeover about to take place the stalwart ILE DE SERK paid a farewell visit to Sark over the weekend of November 1, and was then laid up, but the ship had not finished with Sark.

All should then have been plain sailing, but on March 7 1984 the new mobile crane fell into the harbour at Maseline. This not only halted the landing of cargo, but for a time, blocked the the harbour itself. To overcome the problem ILE DE SERK was brought back into service as she could enter Creux Harbour, and discharge using her derrick. A new mobile crane was quickly ordered, and was taken to Sark on June 11 1984, and things then settled down.


By 1984 a high proportion of the cargo arriving in St. Peter Port from England was being transported in ro/ro commercial vehicles, these being handled at the top end of the New Jetty. This operation was a hazard to the Sark passengers who had walk to the end of the Spur to board the boats, and to overcome this a new Inter-Island jetty was proposed for the west side of the New Jetty, near the offices of Sark Shipping. Core samples were taken in November 1984, and the States agreed to the proposal quay and and a second ro/ro ramp in December 12 1985.

The new Inter-Island passenger quay was to be 125 feet long and 30 feet wide, and to make way for this new quay, the Isle of Sark Shipping offices had to be demolished and this commenced on February 26 1986. A new purpose built building for the company and also Alderney Shipping was constructed further up St. Julian’s Quay. The new quay should have been in use by the summer of 1987 but delays in other port projects and problems with the jetty resulted in it being August 7 1989 before the Sark boats commenced using it.  

Under the 1950 Corporation Tax Law of of Guernsey, all companies were liable for corporation tax unless the annual director's meetings were held outside of the Island, and what better place to hold the meetings than Sark. One other requirement was that at least two Sark residents were on the Board.

This resulted in a number of Sark residents collecting Directors fees for thousands of Guernsey companies, and once a year the Guernsey Directors travelled on Sark Shipping to hold their meetings in Sark    

However, the practice came under increased criticism from the International financial world, resulting that on December 15 1988, the States of Guernsey repealed the Law. This ended The “Sark Lark” as it had become known, causing a sharp downturn in the number of passengers traveling to Sark for these meetings, and the leisurely lunches enjoyed at local hotels, paid for by wealthy non-residents and their companies.

As the use of containers grew  and their size increased, the company looked at replacing SARK TRADER with a vessel more suited to modern requirements. A small supply type vessel came to the islands for a trial in October 1989, and Chief Pleas recommended its purchase on April 6 1990, and was confirmed by them on September 10, when it was stated that the vessel was to be re-engined before she entered service, which she did as SARK VENTURE in November 1990.

                      Picture  :  Company postcard  :  201aw  67.5k         

                      Company postcard with L’ESPRITE DE SERK above, and BON

           MARIN DE SERK below.

At this time, with a downturn in tourists, and the ending of the “Sark Lark” the company  in 1991 suffered a particularly bad year, recording a trading loss of £129,000. This resulted in having to re-negotiate its overdraft with the banks, and also having to seek the backing of Chief Pleas. All this resulted that in July 1992 it placed its two passenger launches on the sales list. These were sold at the end of the season resulting in the loss of four jobs.

To provide the capacity in the following seasons, SARK VENTURE had a passenger module added to her open deck in May 1993, which enabled 122 passengers carried but still left limited space for freight, and the company chartered HERM TRIDENT VI from Trident Charter for the summer months, this continued until the end of the 2005 season.

The loss for 1992 was cut to £39,000, but the passengers declined by a further 10%, and this led to talk of a take over by Trident Travel but this was vigorously countered by the Seigneur in September that year.

In 1993 the lease of Brechou (the Island to the west of Sark) was acquired by Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, known as the Barclay Brothers  and the new owners commenced a huge building programme, which saw the construction of a new harbour, a helicopter pad, and a large mock Gothic castle. It was a project for which Isle of Sark Shipping undertook or organized most of the shipping requirements, and various vessels were chartered in as required. The project took in the region of ten years to complete, and provided the company with a steady stream of income.

In 2000 with BON MARIN nearly twenty years old, the company decided that a replacement should be built. Design  work was undertaken, and on April 23 2003, Chief Pleas agree in principle to the new vessel to cost £1.95m, and BON MARIN was put up for sale. The company then went on to find finance for the project and identify a yard for the building. At this stage Sark’s Shipping Committee became very involved in the project, to such an extent that Peter Drake and his family felt that they had lost control of the Company and offered to sell their shares to Chief Pleas, but they would continue as Managers.

October 7 2004 was a dramatic day for the Company, firstly Chief Pleas agreed to purchase the Drake shares, and then within hours voted against building the new vessel, instead deciding to undertake major overhauls of the two current vessels.

Picture  :                              201aw  390k     

BON MARIN DE SERK boarding passengers at Maselin, with the second Coles mobile crane parked on the jetty.


At the same meeting a proposition to enter into an agreement with the Drakes to continue managing the company was withdrawn.

Three months later on February 24 2005 the Shipping Committee came back to Chief Pleas with a proposition for the building on a “no frills” cargo boat costing £500,000 with delivery in nine months. There were many delays in construction, and it was not until February 2008 that she entered service.

Even when the major works on Brecqhou had been completed, Isle of Sark vessels continued to provided the cargo requirements, and it was something of a shock at Chief Pleas meeting on March 20 2005 when it was announced that Brecqhou had given notice that they intended to buy their own cargo vessel, and would discontinue the trading connection with the Isle of Sark Sg.

If October 7 2004 had been a dramatic day for the Company with the Drakes selling their half of the company to Chief Pleas, then August  2 2005, was equally dramatic with the Sark Shipping Committee announcing that the Alderney Shipping Co. Ltd. were to be appointed as Managers to run the company. On learning of this Peter Drake immediately resigned, being followed the next day by his son Glen.

So ended 35 years with the company he had helped form 1969, and the years before with Commodore Sg, and a family connection which stretched back to his father E. A. F. Drake who had been on the Board of the Island Sg Co in 1947.

The term for managers Alderney Shipping was not to last long, as on April 28 2007 it was announced that after a tender process the contract was to awarded to the Guernsey company Ship & Fly as from June 15.

The “no frills” cargo vessel ordered in February 2005 with delivery in nine months, finally entered service on February 8 2008 as SARK VIKING , nearly three years late, having had to be “spirited” out of the builders yard for completion at Appledore.

The major work on the other two vessels had gone ahead in 2005 but with substantial over-spends, and even with her new engines, it did not stop BON MARIN having a major problem in late July 2011. To provide the required capacity the company chartered BOURNEMOUTH BELLE from Poole, and at the end of the charter the vessel was purchased and renamed SARK BELLE.

Now with a fleet of four vessels looked for further employment for them, firstly making a trial run to Dilette with the new cargo vessel SARK VIKING, but there was no call for such a service. In 2013 talks were held with Alderney authorities regarding a once a week service using SARK VENTURE, but the vessel did not meet the requirements for such a service, leaving cruises along the south coast of Guernsey as the only option.

It is to be hoped that a fleet four vessels can be economically sustained.  

                                               Fleet List

ILE DE SERK                    1969 - 1984 Sold May 1985

LA DAME DE SERK         1969 - 1974

TERESA OF SARK           1972 - 1982 Sold March 1983

L'ETOILE DE SERK        1974 -  1992 end of season

L'ESPRIT DE SERK        1975 -   1992 end of season

BON MARIN DE SERK   1983 - current

SARK TRADER                1983 -   October 1990

SARK VENTURE              1990 - current   Passenger module added 1993

HERM TRIDENT VI      Chartered from 1993 to 2005 end of season

SARK VIKING                2.2008 - current

BOURNEMOUTH BELLE Chartered July 2011. Purchased at end of charter SARK BELLE                 8.2011 current


                                          Chartered vessels

TIE VENTURE IV           1993 - 2003 Chartered, used in company livery on

                                           both Sark cargo and Brecqhou building project.

GEMSTAR                      1995 Chartered for Brecqhou building project.