TSS Duke of Lancaster (1956)
Duke of Lancaster landlocked near Mostyn, North Wales, 2010
|Name:||TSS Duke of Lancaster|
|Owner:||1955–1963: British Transport Commission
|Operator:||1955–1963: British Transport Commission
|Port of registry:||Lancaster, United Kingdom|
|Route:||1955–1975: Heysham - Belfast
1975–1979: Holyhead - Dún Laoghaire
|Builder:||Harland & Wolff, Belfast|
|Out of service:||1979|
|Identification:||IMO number: 5094496|
|Status:||Out of service, In permanent dock|
|Type:||Turbine steam ship|
|Tonnage:||4,450 GT (gross tonnage)|
|Length:||114.63 m (376 ft 1 in)|
|Beam:||17.46 m (57 ft 3 in)|
|Draught:||4.54 m (14 ft 11 in)|
|Installed power:||2 x Parmetrada steam turbines|
The TSS Duke of Lancaster is a railway steamer passenger ship that operated in Europe from 1956 to 1979, and is currently beached near Mostyn Docks, on the River Dee, north-east Wales. It replaced an earlier 3,600 ton ship of the same name operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway company between Heysham and Belfast.
Along with her sister ships the TSS Duke of Rothesay and the TSS Duke of Argyll she was amongst the last passenger-only steamers built for British Railways (at that time, also a ferry operator). She was a replacement for the 1928 steamer built by the London Midland and Scottish Railway, RMS Duke of Lancaster.
Built at Harland & Wolff, Belfast and completed in 1956, she was designed to operate as both a passenger ferry (primarily on the Heysham-Belfast route) and as a cruise ship. In this capacity, the Lancaster travelled to the Scottish islands and further afield to Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Spain.
From the mid-1960s, passenger ships such as the Lancaster were gradually being superseded by car ferries. Rather than undertake the expensive option of renewing their entire fleet, British Railways instead began a part-programme of conversion. In order to maintain ferry services whilst these modifications took place, the Lancaster's duties as a cruise ship ceased. On 25 April 1970 the ship returned to service, having had her main deck rebuilt to accommodate vehicles via a door at her stern. The ship now provided space for 1,200 single-class passengers and 105 cars, with a total cabin accommodation for 400 passengers.
The three ships continued on the Heysham-Belfast route until the service was withdrawn on 5 April 1975. The Duke of Lancaster was then briefly employed on the Fishguard-Rosslare crossing, before becoming the regular relief vessel on the Holyhead–Dún Laoghaire service until November 1978. The ship was then laid up at Barrow in Furness, Cumbria.
The fun ship
The Lancaster was sold to Liverpool based company Empirewise Ltd, who intended her to be used as a static leisure centre and market. She arrived at her new home at Llanerch-y-Mor, just south from Mostyn in north Wales, on 10 August 1979. The ship was brought into a permanent dock and surrounded by a large tonnage of sand pulled out of the Dee estuary. Known as "The Fun Ship", it was also possible to visit her bridge and engine room. The Funship was very successful and became the third most popular tourist attraction in the Country but due to being repeatedly attacked by the local authorities with the claiming of monopoly rights regards the Councils' market and the Funship market being too close therefore in direct competition was ordered to close down. They also served 13 enforcement notices on the Funship (eleven of which were quashed, one withdrawn), one of which was in regards to building a 5.5m wall in proximity to the ship. The Secretary of State reached an agreement with the Council and an undisclosed sum of money was awarded to the Funship owners. This process took 5-6 years to reach this stage, by which time the damage to the ship had been done. The owners came to the decision to halt the Funship business from then on.
The ship was later used as a warehouse by its owners Solitaire Liverpool Ltd, a clothing company registered to the same address as Empirewise Ltd.
Despite having large amounts of its exterior paintwork covered in rust, the interior of the ship is in good condition. It was featured in the 2011 series of BBC Two's Coast.
In early 2012 several local arcade game collectors made a deal with Solitaire Liverpool Ltd and were able to purchase most of the coin operated machines left behind inside the ship at the time the fun ship closed. Removing the games required the use of cranes and other heavy lifting equipment.
The plan is to transform the ship into the largest open air art gallery in the UK. As of August 2012, the Latvian graffiti artist "Kiwie" was commissioned to spraypaint a design on the ship. The ship is slowly being covered with graffiti described as "bright and surreal". The first phase of the project saw Kiwie and other European graffiti artists paint murals on the ship between August and November 2012, and the second phase (starting at the end of March 2013) included the work of British-based artists such as Snub23, Spacehop, Dan Kitchener and Dale Grimshaw. One of the artworks is a picture of the ship's first captain, John 'Jack' Irwin.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Duke of Lancaster (ship, 1956).|
- Duke of Lancaster, hhvferry.com, retrieved 12 December 2007
- A Visit to the Duke of Lancaster, Irish Sea Shipping, December 2006, retrieved 14 November 2007
- Grafiti mākslinieks «Kiwie» apkrāso kruīza laineri, tvnet.lv
- BBC News: Duke of Lancaster: Street art murals on beached ship accessed 9 December 2012
- "In pictures: Duke of Lancaster art project grows". United Kingdom: BBC News. 2013-04-08. Archived from the original on 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-04-09.