Previous names

  • 1903 - 1936 Ralph Brocklebank
Certificate no 15
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Tug
Location Liverpool
Vessel type Tug
Current use Community Vessel
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions Yes
Info required No
Web address


Builder Tranmere Bay Development Co, Birkenhead
Built in 1903
Hull material Steel
Rig Unknown
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 1
Propulsion Steam
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Steam compound
Boiler type Scotch Return Tube
Boilermaker Unknown
Boiler fuel coal


Breadth: Beam
24.49 feet (7.47 m)
6.00 feet (1.83 m)
Length: Overall
109.93 feet (33.53 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



DANIEL ADAMSON was constructed as RALPH BROCKLEBANK for the Shropshire Union Canal and Railway Company in 1903 by the Tranmere Bay Development Company. She was one of three new tug-tenders built in the first decade of the 20th Century to operate the S.U.C. & R. Co. barge towing service between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool. The passenger carrying capability of the tug-tenders facilitated the provision of a scheduled cross-river passenger service, something which the Shropshire Union company had provided on previous vessels since the 1880s. The combined passenger carrying and towage service continued until 1915. From then until 1921 DANIEL ADAMSON and her two sisters W.E. DORRINGTON and LORD STALBRIDGE operated as tugs only. The Manchester Ship Canal Company acquired the three vessels in 1921.

Whilst primarily used as tugs by the Manchester Ship Canal Company, the new owners made use of the tugs’ passenger accommodation again. Cruises from Manchester to Eastham were offered for 7/6d, 37.5p, inclusive of lunch and a return by train from Ellesmere Port. Following the scrapping of the MSC’s original tug-tender CHARLES GALLOWAY in 1929 the company further enhanced the passenger facilities by providing removable awnings fitted to the bridge and stern decks.

In 1936 further modifications were made to DANIEL ADAMSON with the bridge being raised to its present level. The passenger accommodation was also upgraded, with the interior being furnished in wood laminates and light fittings in the then contemporary art-deco style. Following the 1936 refit, the vessel was renamed DANIEL ADAMSON in honour of the Manchester Ship Canal Company’s first chairman. Though the activity of vandals over the past twenty years has served to remove some of the splendour of the passenger accommodation, the fine interior of the main and lower deck passenger saloons is still apparent, being more akin to that offered by liners of the period.

From 1936 to 1984, DANIEL ADAMSON operated both as a tug and as the company directors’ inspection vessel and a venue for corporate hospitality functions; the two sister vessels having been disposed of by the Manchester Ship Canal Company in 1937 and 1946.

In 1986 DANIEL ADAMSON was laid up and berthed in the ship dock at The Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port. In mid February 2004 local tug man Dan Cross discovered that she was about to be scrapped. Following a hastily arranged meeting and considerable efforts made by Dan the DANIEL ADAMSON cheated her appointment with the breakers.



Brouwer, Norman J, International Register of Historic Ships Anthony Nelson, pp146, Edition 2, 1993  
Steamboat Register: An illustrated Register of surviving steam vessels in the British Isles, Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, May Edition 6, 1994
The Boat Museum, The Boat Museum
Classic Boat 3m for steam tug tender, pp17, December 2012  
Clarke, Michael, Ships Monthly Still in Steam: Tug DANIEL ADAMSON, pp18-20, April Still in Steam, 1977  
The Transport Trust: AGM Weekend - Liverpool & Birkenhead, Edition 103, 2011   

Key dates

  • 1903

    Vessel built by Tranmere Bay Development Company in Birkenhead and named RALPH BROCKLEBANK

  • 1921

    Purchased by Manchester Ship Canal Company where she worked as stern tug, as well as taking Ship Canal employees on trips from Manchester to Eastam

  • 1936

    A new superstructure was fitted, the bridge raised and passenger accommodation improved  Vessel renamed DANIEL ADAMSON after the first Chairman of the Ship Canal Co

  • 1936-1984

    Vessel operated as a tug, the company directors’ inspection vessel and a venue for corporate hospitality

  • 1984

    Vessel retired from operating and became a static exhibit at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port

  • 2004

    February: decision was taken to have her broken up but vessel was rescued and the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society was formed

  • 2004

    Vessel towed from Ellesmere Port to Liverpool, where she was dry docked  Hull surveyed, grit blasted and painted enabling her to gain a 5 year seaworthiness certificate

  • 2012

     Heritage Lottery Fund approved a first-round pass for a £3m bid, including development funding of £37,300

  • Dec 2017

    The Daniel Adamson Steam Ship is presented with the Engineering Heritage Award by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers


  • April 2022

    Awarded £9,827 from the Arts Council's Let's Create Jubilee Fund for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.

  • 2021

    Awarded £50,000 from the 2nd round of Culture Recovery Funding

  • October 2020

    Daniel Adamson Preservation Society received a grant of £151,000 from round 1 of the Culture Recovery Fund.

  • 2017

    A Project grant of £250 for being  one of our Regional Flagship Winner for Mersey 2017 was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ship Uk

  • 2012

    A Sustainability Grant of £1000 for consultancy was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK

  • 2009-2010

    A grant was awarded to the Trust for £8,500 by the PRISM Fund

  • 2007/08

    The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £37,300 to produce further and more detailed plans for restoration

  • 2007/08

    The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £24,300 for more detailed plans

  • 2004-2006

    A grant was awarded to the Society by the PRISM Fund for £3500

  • 2006-2007

    A grant was awarded by the PRISM Fund for £8000

  • 2005/06

    The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £50,000 to determine what work will be required

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