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Royal Iris [III] Awaits Her Fate

Photographs  Trevor Roberts 2006

ROYAL IRIS [III] William Denny's classic diesel electric ship completed for Wallasey Ferries in 1950. She entered service on May 5, 1951 with a passenger certificate of 2,296 for ferry services and 1,000 for cruising. ROYAL IRIS was refurbished by the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive in 1972 and sold out of service in 1993 for use as a night club in Cardiff. Following an unsuccessful period there she was moved to the River Thames in 2002. She remains afloat in an increasingly derelict condition.

Her design is timeless - the sweeping curves in the superstructure displayed by the ROYAL IRIS well predate those shown by at least a couple of modern ships operating on the Irish Sea today. Just look at the stern - can't you see a ULYSSES there?  The curves behind the wheel house - STENA ADVENTURER?

Mersey Travel should never have disposed of this popular vessel - so well known in local folk lore as the "Fish and Chip" boat. It is recorded that she needed a lot of work performing on her at the time of her withdrawal - but over a decade later she still floats on the tide and still looks incredibly modern.

What an asset ROYAL IRIS [III] could have been for the forthcoming Capital of Culture Celebrations to be held in 2008, for it was on board her that many famous "Mersey Beat" performers appeared during river cruises including "Gerry and the Pacemakers" and "The Beatles".

Given all the money that is sloshing around on Merseyside on the run up to the Liverpool Capital of Culture year, some of it appearing to be directed to some dubious projects, it is a shame that this Merseyside icon is left to rot on a "foreign" river when she could be returned home, restored and put back into service on the River Mersey. She would embrace not only our maritime culture but also the popular culture of the area. What a flag ship she would have made for the 2008 celebrations!


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