A £350,000 appeal has been launched to return the excursion ship Balmoral to service in 2014, the greater part of the money being needed for a major survey and refit during the coming winter. This year Balmoral is out of service in Bristol but volunteers continue to work on board amid fears that if the survey does not take place it will prove difficult, if not almost impossible, to return the 1949-built vessel to future operations.
Balmoral was built by John I. Thornycroft’s yard in Southampton for Red Funnel ferry and excursion work, and was later used on the Bristol Channel and in a static role at Dundee. Balmoral has been in operational preservation since 1986, when she was bought by backers of Waverley to sail in support of the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer.
Major work, including the fitting of new main engines and dining saloon refurbishment, took place in 2003 with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and more recently the Britannia Lounge, was restored with the backing of the People’s Lottery.
An ambitious five-month excursion programme has been announced for 2014 that would bring spells on the Bristol Channel, with visits to the South Coast, London and the Thames Estuary, the East Coast, Devon and Cornwall and trips from Liverpool to North Wales.