Certificate no 1923
Status Archived


Function Passenger Vessel
Subfunction Ferry
Location Sunderland
Vessel type Short Sea Ferry
Archive reason Disposed
Current use None
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Cammell Laird Ltd, Birkenhead
Built in 1955
Hull material Other metal
Rig None
Number of decks 5
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Steam turbine
Boiler type None
Boilermaker Babcock and Wilcox
Boiler year 1955
Boiler fuel oil


Breadth: Beam
47.00 feet (14.34 m)
18.00 feet (5.49 m)
Length: Overall
344.00 feet (104.92 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed



MANXMAN was built as an Irish Sea Ferry and operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company between 1955 and 1982. She was launched from Cammell Laird on 8 February and trials took place on the Clyde on 12 May, when she reached 21.95 knots. Her maiden voyage was from Douglas to Liverpool on the 21 May.

Along with the KING ORRY, she became the winter steamer until the advent of the second car ferry BEN-MY-CHREE in 1966. She was operated all year round and was renowned for her reliability and sea keeping abilities.

She was sold out of service in 1982 and, for about 10 years, remained essentially in original form. She became a nightclub in 1991. In 1997, a fire broke out in what was traditionally the 3rd class ladies lounge and destroyed the original wood panelling.

In 1997, MANXMAN arrived in Sunderland, but as she was proceeding up the River Wear her foremast struck the Wearmouth Bridge and bent back at an angle of 45 degrees.

MANXMAN was the final vessel in the series of 8 similar ships and the only survivor. She typified the ultimate version of the short sea ferry prior to introduction of the RO-RO. As such, she represents the long history of Irish Sea ferries upon which the port of Liverpool was established. Her design, layout and overall appearance are similar to many of the passenger liners of that era, she is a 50% scale model. She is historically important to Merseyside and the north west in particular because at the time of her building the Isle of Man was a major holiday destination for families from the area. They all travelled on MANXMAN or her sisters. Not only was she built on the Mersey, but also most of the maintenance, dry docking and overhauls were carried out in this area. MANXMAN has also been used in such films as ‘Titanic’, ‘Chariots of Fire’, ‘The Missionary’ and ‘Yenti’.

From the time of MANXMAN's withdrawal from service in 1982 a number of organisations emerged seeking to save and restore this fine ship, most significantly being the Manxman Steamship Company. In 2003 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a planning grant of £18,000 which supported the commissioning of a number of key studies and surveys.

In October 2004 following supportive action from Wirral MBC and North West Shiprepairers Ltd., Mersey Docks and Harbour Company make a conditional offer of a berth at Birkenhead's Tower Quay. In December 2006 the acceptance of a £20,000 funding bid to NWDA enables a full independent sustainability study into the long term financial viability of the project together with an updated ultrasound hull survey which confirmed the potential for her future sustainability as a maritime heritage business venture. In August 2007 following intervention at a very senior level, Peel Holdings Limited advised that they 'considered MANXMAN is not appropriate' for the berth which had been provisionally offered to the Manxman Trust.

In February 2008 after seeking alternativce solutions the Trust sadly concluded that the envisaged project could not be implemented and that they would commence the winding up process.


Henry, Fred, Ships of the Isle of Man, 1962
Danielson & Hendy, The Manxman Story, 1983
Shepherd, John, Life and Times of the Steam Packet, Ferry Publications, 1994
Bulletin Liverpool Nautical Research Society, 2002

Key dates

  • 1955

    Built by Cammell Laird Ltd of Birkenhead for the Isle of Man Steamship Co.as an Irish Sea Ferry

  • 1955-1982

    Sailed mainly as a car ferry between Liverpool and the Isle of Man

  • 1982

    Taken out of service and sold to Marda (Squash) Ltd of Preston to be part of a new sports and leisure complex

  • 1984

    Sold to Midnite Entertainments of Preston and developed as a night club

  • 1990

    Moved to Liverpool

  • 1991

    Opened as a night club in Waterloo Dock trading under the name of Manxman Princess

  • 1993

    Night club closed

  • 1994

    Towed to Ruscador Dock, vessel hull to continue in use as a night club

  • 1997

    Fire broke out doing severe damage so the vessel was towed to the Pallion Shipyard, Sunderland

  • 2002

    A further fire caused more damage, but the vessel was purchased by the newly formed Manxman Steamship Co. with a view to restoration

  • 2007

    Following a number of grants from HLF and NWDA, a berth was offered in Liverpool which was refused and the grants were subsequently withdrawn

  • 2012

    Vessel scrapped in Sunderland

  • 2013

    Vessel record transferred to the National Archive of Historic Vessels (NAHV)


  • 15 December 2010

    Still in the covered dry dock, but hull deteriorating very rapidly. During the last 6 months, asbestos, remaining fuel and lub oils have been removed. A 'clean air certificate' is hoping to be granted in early January They plan an inventory of

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