From the archive: The Fishguard Boat Express


The Fishguard Boat Express service on the Great Western Railway (GWR) between Fishguard Harbour in Wales and Rosslare in Ireland began in the early 1900s. The service was designed to provide a faster and more convenient way for passengers and goods to travel between the two countries.

Station, sidings and harbour at Fishguard

The first service operated between Fishguard and Rosslare in 1906. The GWR built a new harbour at Fishguard to accommodate the service, which included new rail connections to the harbour, a new terminal building, and a large steamship called the “St. Patrick.” The St. Patrick was designed specifically for the Fishguard-Rosslare route and had a capacity of 1,200 passengers and 400 tons of cargo.

A Cunard Special at Fishguard harbour station

Initially, the service was operated by the GWR in partnership with the Great Southern and Western Railway Company of Ireland. However, in 1925, the GWR took over full ownership of the service and began to operate it under the name “Fishguard & Rosslare Railways and Harbours Company.”

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Interior of dining saloon, GWR Boat Express

During World War II, the Fishguard Boat Express was suspended due to security concerns. However, it resumed after the war and continued to operate until the 1960s, when declining passenger numbers and increased competition from air travel led to its eventual closure.

The station quay at Fishguard

Despite its relatively short lifespan, the Fishguard Boat Express service between Fishguard and Rosslare was an important part of the transportation history of both Wales and Ireland. It played a significant role in promoting tourism, trade, and cultural exchange between the two countries and helped to strengthen their economic and political ties. Today, the route is still used by ferries and remains an important link between Wales and Ireland.

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