MV Balmoral, David Booth


About Balmoral


The Balmoral is Britain’s most widely travelled excursion ship, carrying over 2 million passengers around the coastline of Britain and Ireland.  She was launched in June 1949 at J. I. Thornycroft & Co. Ltd in Woolston, Southampton.  Named after the Highland residence of Her Majesty, the name 'Balmoral' is suggestive of a loyalty to the people, villages, harbours and ports around the British coastline that she has served for the past 70 years.


In her career she has carried members of the Royal family, including the Princess Anne and the Duke of Edinburgh.  She has sailed to almost every port and harbour in the United Kingdom that can take her, including right into the hearts of both Calais and Boulogne for remembrance charters.  She has operated as a ferry for various shipping companies, including operating a ferry service from Swansea to Lundy Island and Ilfracombe, and at one stage even being the ferry for the Isles of Scilly.


Designed to be both a pleasure steamer and a working vessel, for twenty years Balmoral was the flagship of the Red Funnel fleet.  In 1969 she began operating in the Bristol Channel for a further ten years, before becoming the last ship in operation of the famous P&A Campbell fleet.  She was to have a short stint as a floating pub in Dundee after being sold to Craig Inns, before being laid up for the next few years. 


In 1985 she was rescued from the muds and bought from the Bank of Scotland by the Waverley Steam Navigation Company, for £20,000.  She entered service in 1986 as a consort to the world-famous PS Waverley, operating to over 185 piers, ports and inlets around Britain.


Balmoral was withdrawn from service and laid up in Bristol Harbour in 2012, before being transferred to a new Charity, established specifically for her restoration and continued preservation.  Today, still based in Bristol, she stands as one of Britain’s most prized maritime assets.


The Balmoral opens weekdays on Tuesdays and Fridays for volunteer restoration at her Bristol Harbourside moorings, and also regularly welcomes the public aboard for Open Days and other events.


MV Balmoral moored at Bristol, Peter Green
Balmoral moored in Bristol Harbour, outside M Shed


Learning Programme


In addition to ongoing conservation, the Balmoral partners with several other local organisations.  One example in Bristol is 'My Future My Choice', offering educational visits to local schools with the ability to learn about the issues facing global shipping, explore the vessel, and build scaled models of heritage ships in Bristol harbour.





October 2023 MV Balmoral has launched a crowdfunder to help pay for their winter dry docking Read more & donate



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