The fencing does not continue from just beyond the laneway gate and it is possible to gain access to the beach and approach the ship from the stern as can be seen from the photographs above. Perhaps this is what the watchman meant about not going into the dock?
After obtaining photographs of the ship's port side we made our way back to the road crossed the small river, and down the path which runs down the side of the Sunday Market site, Beside the dock wall were the rotting remains of an old motor launch. One wonders just how long that had lain there also lying nearby was what looked like one of those old mine casings used to collect money for maritime charities.
An excellent view of the ship can be obtained from this south side path, also clearly visible was the sunken concrete barge which was obviously positioned to hold the DUKE in place.
From this side of the ship a fairly good view could be had with binoculars through the windows. Slightly strangely, what looked like a blue Domestos bleach bottle could be seen on the bridge! Through one of the port side windows one could the door of a Gent's toilet clearly visible and an emergency assembly notice - all looking in "as new condition" The DUKE's port side also revealed quite a lot of red-leading - not recent work - but clearly someone had started trying to do some maintenance years ago. In places some of the white paint could be seen to have peeled revealing her BR Sealink blue hull livery beneath.
Since returning from the trip I have been searching round on the internet for further information. There is an interesting BBC Wales comment page [CLICK HERE] on the DUKE OF LANCASTER which contains much interesting information including the apparent reason for the ship being closed to the public.
A correspondent states that this was due to the fact that emergency vehicles could not pass under the low railway bridge and therefore had to be closed to the public. How accurate this is is not known.
One must ask if the reason for closure was the inability for the emergency services to access the site because of the low bridge why was it not acceptable for the route across the railway to be used and approach made along the laneway running alongside the Dee? Obviously this was the route by which large vans, visible in some of the on-line photographs of the Duke of Lancaster, must have made their way round to the site.
Also revealing on the BBC Wales site is the comment from someone who claims to have been inside recently. There are quite a few reminiscences and also comments that the ship is haunted with mysterious figures being seen on deck and strange sounds emanating from the vessel! Guess there has got to be a good ghost story somewhere.
The BBC web site has a link to the Solitaire Liverpool Ltd web site. [CLICK HERE]. The web site features the ship as "our unique warehouse" on the River Dee.
However, the picture clearly dates from a much earlier time - no rust visible on the ship and funnel colour is white and blue and not the current blue / red. The web site bears a copyright date of 2005 - but this would appear to be a date after the ship ceased to be used as a warehouse.
Also it appears slightly strange that as the ship had been used for secure storage of retail fashion stock would one really want to advertise its purpose?
Further online investigation revealed the following:
Lloyds World Shipping Directory [CLICK HERE] returns Empirewise Ltd as the owning company of the ship. Empirewise being listed as a ship operator! Here are the details: Llanerch-y-Mor Dock, Llanerch-y-Mor, Mostyn, Holywell, United Kingdom . Telephone +44 1745 843
A visit to the Companies House web site reveals that Empirewise Ltd is a dormant company registered to a Derby address, the same address as that of Solitaire (Liverpool) Ltd.
Hope you find this material interesting and if anyone can provide photographs of the DUKE OF LANCASTER when she was open to the Public and scans of any publicity material it will be added to this page.
John H. Luxton - December 09, 2006