Red Funnel has announced that thanks to the generosity of its customers, a cheque for £5,000 has been presented to the trust whose members are working tirelessly to restore the former Red Funnel flagship Balmoral.
Balmoral was built for Red Funnel by J Thornycroft & Co Ltd of Woolston and was launched in 1949, replacing a paddle steamer of the same name. She had a reputation for speed and comfort and with space for 12 cars she was deployed mainly on the Southampton-Cowes ferry service. Her design also made her suitable for use as a tender ferrying passengers, luggage and stores to the cruise ships which were too large to enter the Port of Southampton.
Balmoral was used extensively for coastal excursions from Southampton to destinations all along the south coast and the ship witnessed the Coronation Fleet Review of 1953, played host to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1958 and bid farewell to RMS Queen Mary when she left Southampton for the final time in 1967. Times however were changing and the tradition of coastal cruising started to ebb away in the late 1960’s. Balmoral was withdrawn in 1968 and was chartered and later sold to P&A Campbell of the Bristol Channel.
For the past few years Balmoral has been laid up in Bristol’s Inner Harbour and has not sailed commercially since 2012. However, a small but dedicated group of enthusiasts and supporters successfully got her to dry dock and after various repairs and inspections the necessary MCA certificates were granted for the ship to sail again. Although there is still much work to do and over £200,000 is still to be raised it is hoped to operate a cruising programme this summer.
Jonathan Green, marketing & communications director for Red Funnel commented:
“Many people still have fond memories of Balmoral’s time with Red Funnel and this is demonstrated by the amount of money donated by customers when making a booking over the past few months. We have our fingers crossed that one day this old friend will return to the Solent as part of her summer season”.
David Bassett, Chairman of the Balmoral Fund Ltd, the organisation committed to sailing Balmoral again in 2015, said:
“We are absolutely thrilled to receive this wonderful support from Red Funnel and its customers. They have always been very supportive of their old “Flag Ship,” £5,000 will allow us to progress various work required before we sail again “hopefully” later this year.
“We are not sure as yet if the Solent will feature in early sailing plans but rest assured when our ship does next sail into the Solent, we hope in some way to say a great big thank you to our wonderful friends at Red Funnel.”
For more information about Balmoral or to make a badly needed donation visit www.mvbalmoral.org.uk.
Featured Photograph: Kings Wear Castle