All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Railway / Coastal History

Railway/Coastal Boat Service

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S.S. Home

The S.S. Home had the same dimensions as the S.S. Argyle, and she, too was built in 1900. The S.S. Home was well-loved by Labradorians and the Newfoundland families who spent their summers fishing in Labrador, particularly before the S.S. Kyle became legendary on the run. The S.S. Home called at Henley Harbour and Cape Charles, and right up to Hopedale. Steaming up the West Coast of the Island, she visited Lark Harbour, Cow Head, Old Port aux Choix, and elsewhere. The people of the Southern Shore - Ferryland, Renews, and Trepassey - also knew the Home well.

S.S. Invermore

The S.S. Invermore was one of the few early Alphabet Fleet vessels not built for the Reids. Instead, she started life in Glasgow in 1881 as the Dromedary, a mail-passenger ship on the Belfast-Glasgow run. The Reids bought her in 1909 and renamed her in accordance with the Alphabet Fleet tradition. A relatively large ship with a gross tonnage of 922, the Invermore took passengers and cargo to Labrador. She also spent two years on the Gulf run, between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, just prior to WWI.

S.S. Kyle

The S.S. Kyle was likely named for many Scottish places, including the village of Kyle-Akin, Kyle-Rhea, a strait, and Kyle of Tongue, a narrow sea loch (lake). These places in turn derived their name from Auld King Coil, a Pictish king who was killed in battle. With a gross tonnage of 1,055, she was substantial for an Alphabet Fleet boat and, unlike most of the other ships, she was built in Newscastle, England, rather than Scotland. Destined for the Labrador run, the S.S. Kyle's music room was done in bird's-eye maple and the piano in the same expensive wood. Her main saloon was in polished mahogany. Her doors featured multi-coloured plate glass and tinted windows. More importantly, the Kyle's wireless had a radius of 150 miles.

The S.S. Kyle was also an icebreaker, which was crucial for both Newfoundland and Labrador waters. She had a round stern, which allowed her to run up on the ice, push it down, and crush it.

S.S. Lintrose

The S.S. Lintrose was built in 1913 in Newcastle upon Tyne, in the north-east corner of England. She was 255 feet long, 37 feet wide, 23 feet deep and weighted 1,616 tons. She had two decks and two masts and was the largest ship in the Alphabet Fleet.

 Sealers freeing ship from ice.
Sealers freeing ship from ice, post 1905. 25.01.002 Coll-137, Archives and Manuscripts, QEII, Memorial University.
Dr. Nigel Rusted boarding the S.S. Kyle in Carbonear, 1930.
Waiting to board the S.S. Kyle. In 1930, Dr. Nigel Rusted took a post as Medical Officer on the S.S. Kyle, serving the coast of Labrador. Pictured, Dr. Nigel Rusted, boarding ship at Carbonear, and being seen off by his sister, Sybil Rusted, and Florrie Andrews of Port de Grave.
The S.S. Kyle resting on mudflats in Harbour Grace.
The S.S. Kyle rests on the mud flats of Riverhead, Harbour Grace, in 2006. Highlights of the S.S. Kyle's long career include her location of the wreckage of the American plane Old Glory and her role in the S.S. Pollux and S.S. Truxton rescue near St. Lawrence. Sascha Meyer-Diekena, 2006.