Enthusiasts launch fund to help preserve historic former ferry

A fundraising campaign has begun to save a historic ship.

The MV Balmoral
The MV Balmoral

Supporters are trying to raise £350,000 towards the cost of refitting the MV Balmoral, which is moored at Bristol harbour.

The vintage ship, which is a member of Britain’s officially-recognised National Historic Fleet, has not sailed since last year and without renovation it may never sail again.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The Balmoral was built in 1949 as a ferry for the Southampton Red Funnel steamers and from 1969 to 1980 was flagship of the famous Bristol Channel “White Funnel Feet” of pleasure steamers.

The ship was restored 27 years ago and since then has carried more than two million passengers on cruises.

The Balmoral is owned by the Waverley Steam Navigation Co Ltd, the charity that also owns the famous paddle steamer Waverley.

The MV Balmoral Fund Ltd will raise funds for the repairs and set up a new local management base for the ship when it returns to service.

Organisers are asking local people and visitors to help raise the funds needed to ensure the Balmoral sails again next year.

Fund director Nick James said: “It is vital we raise £350,000 to carry out a major refit in the winter of 2013/14.

“If the refit is not carried out by the summer of 2014, Balmoral will lose her passenger certificates and the 125-year-old tradition of regular summertime day trips and cruises on the waters of North Somerset and Devon will be lost forever.”