SS Montrose (1897)

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SS Montrose.jpg
United Kingdom
Name: SS Montrose
Launched: 17 June 1897
Maiden voyage: Middlesbrough–Quebec–Montreal, September 1897
Fate: Wrecked on Goodwin Sands, 20 December 1914
General characteristics
  • 1897: 5,440 GT (as built)
  • 1901: 7,094 GT
  • 1905: 6,278 GT
  • 1911: 7,207 GT
Length: 444.3 ft (135.4 m)
Beam: 52.0 ft (15.8 m)
Propulsion: single screw propeller
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)

SS Montrose was a transatlantic ocean liner for Elder, Dempster & Company and the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company. She was the vessel on which Hawley Crippen and his lover, Ethel Le Neve, fled England after Crippen's wife was murdered.

Early career[edit]

A 444.3-foot (135.4 m) ocean liner with a 5,440 gross tonnage (GT), Montrose was built by Sir Raylton Dixon & Co. of Middlesbrough and was launched on 17 June 1897 for Elder, Dempster & Company. Making her maiden voyage from Middlesbrough to Quebec and Montreal in September 1897, she began regular service from Avonmouth to Montreal the following month. On 14 March 1900, she began the first of eight voyages from Liverpool to Cape Town as a Boer War troopship.[1]

Rebuilt to 7,094 GT in 1901, she was sold to the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company in 1903, and outfitted for 70 second-class and 1,800 third-class passengers. She began her service between Liverpool and Montreal, Quebec on 20 April 1903. She moved to service from London to Antwerp and Saint John, New Brunswick, in April 1904, and from London to Antwerp, Quebec, and Montreal the following month. Rebuilt again in 1905, the liner was increased to 6,278 GT.[1]

Escape of Dr. Crippen[edit]

Montrose was involved in a sinister affair in 1910. American physician Hawley Crippen and his lover, Ethel Le Neve had fled England after the circumstances around his wife's death were questioned. After a body was found in the basement of Crippen's north London residence, Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Walter Dew sought the couple for murder charges.[2] One theory had the couple sailing from Dover on SS Kroonland, but when inspected in New York on arrival, Crippen and Le Neve were not to be found.[3] The fleeing couple had instead sailed on the Montrose from Antwerp on 20 July. Crippen, identified on Montrose after the vessel received a description of the pair via a wireless dispatch, was arrested, convicted of his wife's murder, and hanged. La Neve was acquitted.[2] The following year, Montrose was rebuilt a final time, this time to 7,207 GT.

Wartime career[edit]

At the start of the First World War Montrose and her near-sister Montreal were docked at Antwerp as the German army was advancing on the city. The Montrose was seaworthy, but without coal, while the Montreal had coal, but inoperable engines. Captain H. G. Kendall, who had been in command of the Montrose in 1910 but had ceased working as a ship's master following his involvement in the Empress of Ireland sinking, was working in the port as the CPR's marine superintendent. He arranged for coal to be transferred from the Montreal, filled both vessels with Belgian refugees and used the Montrose to tow the Montreal to England.[4]


On 28 October 1914, Montrose was sold to the Admiralty for use as a blockship at Dover.[1] Breaking loose from her moorings during a gale, the liner drifted out and was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands on 20 December 1914.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Ship Descriptions - Mi to Mu". Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Crippen hanged in London jail at dawn of day". The Atlanta Constitution. 1910-11-23. pp. 1–2.
  3. ^ "Saw Crippen in train". The Washington Post. 1910-07-20. p. 3.
  4. ^ Croall, James. Disaster at Sea. Day Books, 1979, p. 230.
  5. ^ "World War 1 at Sea - Royal Navy Vessels Lost and Damaged JANUARY- MARCH 1915". Naval History. Retrieved 12 August 2010.