Fl. 1940s
Steamer from Fishguard to Rosslare

Oil and gouache on board, signed lower left
Image size: 35 x 22 inches (89 x 56 cm)
Contemporary art deco style frame


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This wonderfully colourful and vibrant artwork was an original painting for a travel advertisement for British Railways in the 1940s. At the time the journey on a ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare was the shortest sea route to and from Southern Ireland. Due to improved travel and access routes, the 1930s and 1940s became the Golden Age of the ocean liner for Britain.

In 1906 the public service at Fishguard Harbour was opened and paved the way for the Great Western-Railway’s new shipping link to Ireland with a three-hour passage to Rosslare. Three turbine steamers were originally allocated to the route, the ‘St George’, ‘St David’ and ‘St Patrick’, each having room for 1,000 passengers with sleeping accommodation for 220 first-class and 100 second-class passengers. At first, there were complaints from passengers about the slowness of moving luggage from boats to trains on the Irish side, but operations on the Welsh side worked well and the trains kept good time.

It was hoped that Fishguard would become a port of call for Atlantic liners and on 2 April 1908 the first ocean-going liner, the Booth Steamship Company’s SS ‘Lanfranc’, dropped anchor in Fishguard harbour and passengers were taken by tender to shore. The boat train to London left under an hour later. Fishguard to New York was 2,902 nautical miles, while the Atlantic crossing to Plymouth was 55 nautical miles longer


John S Smith

John S Smith was a poster artist who was active in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also an illustrator and completed many works to commemorate seminal sea journeys such as the French ship the Normandie and the British Queen Mary competed for the fastest crossing during the 1930s.

The artist’s works are currently in the collections of The National Railway Museum and The Scottish Maritime Museum.