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I'm trying to piece together details of a holiday enjoyed by an elderly friend in April 1978. The party took the Brittany Ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo. I think they traveled overnight on a Saturday and returned on a Saturday 2 weeks later. I wondered if anyone might know the times of sailings from Portsmouth to and from St Malo at that time and the names of the ferries operating that route. 

I also wondered if Brittany Ferries kept passenger lists from that time and, if so, can they be accessed.

Will be very grateful for any help anyone can give me.

Many thanks.


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Yes, the St Malo timings back then were very similar to what they are now.  The evening departure from Portsmouth may have been 2030 rather than 2015 but to all intents and purposes the same.  1978 was the year that Prince of Brittany took over from Armorique on the St Malo route (to enable the latter to open the Plymouth-Santander and Cork-Roscoff routes).  She did that, as far as I can recall, around the time you are asking about (March or April 1978).  So the ship that is most likely to have operated the overnight from Portsmouth was Prince of Brittany.

As far as the return goes, this depends on whether it was overnight or by day.  If it was the day crossing then, again, it was probably Prince of Brittany and almost exactly the same timings as Bretagne operates currently.  If it was an overnight return then it was probably Penn Ar Bed.  Penn Ar Bed was BF's first passenger ferry and by 1978 was performing backup roles on Portsmouth to St Malo and Plymouth-Roscoff, which meant that she also ran a couple of Plymouth-St Malo sailings per week but as far as I remember there were about 3 overnight St Malo to Portsmouth sailings per week on her roster, concentrated at the weekends (so was probably running this route on Saturday evenings).

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  • 2 years later...

As a child, I was taken on the Portsmouth-St Malo route each summer from 1978 to 1981 and we travelled overnight. The departure time was similar to what it is now. The ferry out to France overnight on the Saturday was the Prince of Brittany and we came home overnight two weeks later on the Saturday on the Penn-Ar-Bed. I vividly remember on one occasion we were down in the bowels of Penn-Ar-Bed and it was made up of small compartments that several cars were put into at strange angles (none of the tight packing that you get now on the ferries). I recall the driver of one of the cars in the compartment we were in thumped the side of his brand new car off the entrance to the compartment.

We holidayed with a company called Carefree Camping which was similar to Eurocamp and my mum had kept the 1982 brochure because we were in it. Unfortunately the ferry timetable was on the separate price list and  it isn't in the brochure but I have taken a photo of the ferry page from the brochure.


(As an aside: We travelled from Glasgow to Portsmouth and we weren't on motorway until around Carlisle and then in the south we drove down country roads through pretty towns and villages. Nowadays doing the drive we come down the M6 - M42 - M40  but back then we came down further west, through the Cotswolds. It didn't take us any longer then than it does now because the roads were  quieter.


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