MV Balmoral

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This article is about the Vintage Excursion Ship. For the Fred Olsen cruise ship, see MV Balmoral (cruise ship).
The Balmoral arriving at Bristol
Career (UK) Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Name: Balmoral
Owner: Waverley Steam Navigation Co. Ltd
Operator: Waverley Excursions Ltd
Builder: John I. Thornycroft & Company, Woolston
Launched: 27 June 1949
Identification: IMO number: 5034927
Status: laid up in Bristol (2013)
awaiting major refit winter 2013/14
General characteristics
Class and type: Coastal excursion vessel
Tonnage: 688 GRT
Length: 203 ft 6 in (62.03 m)
Beam: 32 ft 0 in (9.75 m)
Notes: [1]

MV Balmoral is a vintage excursion ship owned by the Waverley Steam Navigation Co. Ltd, a preservation charity. Her principal area of operation is the Bristol Channel, although she also operates day excursions to other parts of the United Kingdom.[2][3] The Balmoral is included on the National Historic Ships register as part of the National Historic Fleet.[4]


The Balmoral was built as a ferry by John I. Thornycroft & Company at Woolston in 1949, for the Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. Limited, more normally known as the Red Funnel line. As built, the Balmoral could carry up to 10 cars on her aft car deck, and she normally operated on her owner's ferry service from Southampton on the English mainland to Cowes on the Isle of Wight. From her introduction she also occasionally performed excursion duties, but as dedicated car ferries were introduced to her main route, her role became more focussed on offering coastal cruises around the South Coast.[1]

Red Funnel ceased operating excursions in 1968, after which the Balmoral was acquired by P&A Campbell. She moved to the Bristol Channel, where she became part of P&A Campbell's White Funnel Fleet until 1980, by which time she was the last working member of the fleet. Balmoral moved to Dundee to become a floating restaurant. This was unsuccessful and the ship was placed for sale again.[1][3]


At this time the Waverley Steam Navigation Co. Ltd were looking for another vessel to operate alongside the world's last seagoing paddle steamer, PS Waverley. Balmoral was purchased by them and subjected to a major refit. As part of this, her car deck was enclosed to form an area that is now in use as a dining saloon.[5]

Balmoral returned to the Bristol Channel in 1986. Since then the ship has operated a summer season of excursions around the Bristol Channel, with visits to most areas of the UK. In winter 2002, Balmoral received new engines, partially funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.[3] Today Balmoral can accommodate up to 800 passengers and has a self-service restaurant on board, along with two licensed bars, a heated observation lounge and a souvenir shop.[6]


In December 2012 Waverley Excursions and Waverley Steam Navigation announced that Balmoral would not be sailing in 2013. The ship's operation has been hampered increasingly in recent years by extreme weather conditions, their statement said.

Balmoral is currently being looked after in Bristol by volunteers on a care and maintenance basis. A group will be set up by WSN, with WEL input, to look at alternative ways of utilising the ship in 2013 and to seek to identify a robust operating programme to offer the prospect of returning her to service in 2014 and beyond.



  1. ^ a b c "Vessel Archive 1921–1950". Red Funnel. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "Groups and Private Hire". Waverley Excursions Ltd. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "History". Waverley Excursions Ltd. Retrieved 22 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "Balmoral". National Historic Ships. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Adams R B [1986] Red Funnel and Before, Kingfisher Publications. ISBN 0-946184-21-6
  6. ^ "MV Balmoral". Martin Longhurst. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 

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