Around lunchtime on Wednesday 20th November 1903 the paddle steamer Cleethorpes left the yard of her builder, Gourlay Brothers, in Dundee for the 241 nautical mile run down the east coast in readiness to take up the service for which she had been designed for the Great Central Railway ferry link connecting Hull and New Holland.
At 190ft in length and 302 GRT she was a slightly larger version of the very similar Grimsby of 1888 and was fitted with a two cylinder compound diagonal steam engine and a coal-fired boiler. She had an open foredeck for the carriage of goods and vehicles with the third class saloon below deck beneath it. The first class saloon was on the main deck aft.
Cleethorpes was off Spurn Head at the entrance to the Humber mid morning on the following day, steamed up the estuary passing Grimsby and Hull and made fast alongside the pier at New Holland around lunchtime, twenty four hours after she had left Dundee. In the berthing somehow her port forward gangway door fell overboard and sank to the bottom. Its recovery by divers would feature in a story in the local paper the following week.
Work continued to make her ready for her new role in the ensuing days.