Monday, October 23, 2017

The abandoned 'Duke of Lancaster' ship in Wales

TSS Duke of Lancaster was one of the last passenger-only steamers built for British Railways back when the company was also a ferry operator. Built at Harland & Wolff, Belfast and completed in 1956, it replaced another ship of the same name, RMS Duke of Lancaster

She primarily operated as a passenger ferry on the Heysham - Belfast route, but as she was also designed to be a cruise ship, she traveled to the Scottish islands and further to Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Spain. 

From the mid-1960 passenger-only ships were starting to being replaced by car ferries and British Railways decided to gradually convert its ships. In 1970 Duke of Lancaster went back to service after her main deck was rebuilt to accommodate vehicles via a door at her stern. Now, the ship had space for 1,200 single-class passengers and 105 cars, with a total cabin accommodation for 400 passengers.

For the next 9 years, Duke of Lancaster served the Heysham - Belfast route, the Fishguard - Rosslare crossing and the the HolyheadDún Laoghaire service. In 1979 it came out of service and was laid up at Holywell, Wales.

That was when Duke of Lancaster started her second life as 'The Fun Ship', a floating leisure complex. Although the local government was at first in favour of the project, it later became reluctant, refusing to provide numerous licenses on safety concerns. During the 1980's, a series of legal battles took place and The Fun Ship was served by 13 separate Enforcement Notices. In 1990 the local government lost on their actions at the hands of the Secretary of State for Wales and were ordered to pay unprecedented costs.

This wasn't the end though. In 1994 local government struck once more claiming monopoly
rights and taking the case to the High Court. This forced The Fun Ship to shut down while proceedings were taking place. Finally in 2004, sick by decades of attacks, the owners decided to permanently shut the ship down. 

Since then there has been a lot of discussion about what needs to be done with the abandoned ship. Although its interior is said to be in good condition, the exterior is rusty as it's been left exposed to the elements. In 2012 a graffiti artist decided to create the largest outdoor graffiti gallery by starting painting on the sides of the ship. Today though most of the art has either faded or painted over. 

SEE ALSO: More abandoned ships around the world // More abandoned places in the United Kingdom // LIST OF ALL DESERTED PLACES
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