The Route from Guernsey to Brussels

Picture5The cover would have had to travel by sea and by rail in order to reach its destination. Examination of the sailing records out of Guernsey in the archive copies of the ‘Guernsey Daily Star’ newspaper which are held at the Priaulx Library in St Peter Port, Guernsey showed the following entry:

Nov. 27 1865- St. Aubin, Barette; Cygnus, Falle; Alliance, Lewis, Jersey; Brittany, Goodridge, Southampton; Watt, Angel, Alderney.

From the above entry it appears that the only Steam Ship bound to England on Monday the 27th of November 1865, the day the letter was sent, was S.S. Brittany under its Captain Goodridge which sailed to Southampton.  (Route ‘a’).

The S.S. Brittany was owned by the London and S.W. Railway Company, a company born out of the London and Southampton Railway which was opened in May 1840 with the objective of connecting the port of Southampton with the city of London. The original London terminus would have been based at Nine Elms.


The Victor Hugo would have been carried by rail to London via this route. (Route ‘b’ marked below)


The letter would have then been sent by rail from London to Dover. (Route ‘c’ marked above)


The London-Dover rail service was run by the South Eastern Railway which, by 1848, was serving two steam ships a day between Folkestone and Boulogne, one a day between Dover and Calais, and one between Dover and Ostend. (Route ‘d’ marked above)

The 3d rate the Victor Hugo letter was sent at indicates that the letter was sent on the direct Dover to Ostend line rather than being shipped to Calais and then by train to Ostend.

The route times would have therefore been as follows:

1- By sea from Guernsey to Southampton approx. 9 hours
2- By train to London approx. 2 hours
3- Transit across London approx. 2 hours
4- By train to Dover approx. 2 hours
5- By sea Dover to Ostend approx.  4 hours
6- By train Ostend to Brussels approx. 3 hours