Silver City Airways

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Silver City Airways


Silver City Airways operated car-carrying Freighter aircraft between Jersey and France

Silver City car freighter

Silver City Airways was founded as a charter airline in 1946 and began to operate from Blackbushe, transferring its headquarters to the new Ferrybridge Airport when it was opened. They operated services to Jersey using a variety of aircraft, including Dakotas and Viscounts, but it is for their Bristol Freighter car ferry service that they are probably best remembered.

They operated a ferry service to Jersey from the south coast of England, and also, for a short period in the 1960s, a link from Jersey to Cherbourg, offering an alternative to sea links to St Malo.

Silver City could not compete once regular sea ferries were re-established and moved their freighter aicraft to more profitable year-round routes across the Channel from the south coast of England.

The airline continued to operate passenger services to Jersey until it became part of the BUA group in 1962.

A journey to Cherbourg remembered

Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson recalls that his first flight was with his family and their car to Cherbourg in nearby Normandy on a Silver City Bristol Freighter car ferry.

"Motoring holidays on the Continent grew steadily in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s as the island shook off the post-Occupation gloom and returned to prosperity on the back of its agriculture and tourism industries. Although it had always been a key route for holiday traffic, the Jersey-St Malo service failed to support the need for passengers to travel back and forth with their cars and Silver City stepped in with a scheduled service to Cherbourg. Operating Bristol Freighters which could carry two cars, and then Superfreighters, with a capacity of three, they offered a quick, although expensive, means of a family getting on to French roads with their car.
"I well remember my first flight. The cars were driven by airline staff up a steep ramp leading to the car platform revealed behind giant doors in the aircraft's nose, and passengers were crowded into a small cabin at the rear of the aircraft. There was a thunderous noise as the engines started up and the aircraft taxied to the end of the runway, but the frightening part was to come. As the engines were revved up the aicraft began to shake violently, and then it trundled down the runway, seemingly at about walking pace, before amazingly lifting into the air. Only minutes later we landed in Cherbourg and were on the road and heading south past St Malo long before we would have arrived on a sea service leaving Jersey at the same time."

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