The Duke of Lancaster is a railway steamer passenger ship that operated in Europe from 1956 to 1979, and is currently beached near Mostyn Docks, on the River Dee, north-east Wales. It replaced an earlier 3,600 ton ship of the same name operated by the London Midland and Scottish Railway company between Heysham and Belfast. Along with her sister ships the TSS Duke of Rothesay and the TSS Duke of Argyll she was amongst the last passenger-only steamers built for British Railways (at that time, also a ferry operator).
The Lancaster was sold to Liverpool based company Empirewise Ltd, who intended her to be used as a static leisure centre and market. She arrived at her new home at Llanerch-y-Mor, near Mostyn, on 10 August 1979. The ship was brought into a permanent dock and the hull was sealed — not in concrete, as is commonly thought, but surrounded by a large tonnage of sand pulled out of the Dee estuary. Known as “The Fun Ship”, it was also possible to visit her bridge and engine room. Conversion for use as a 300-room hotel did not appear to go beyond the preliminary planning stage. Its use as “The Fun Ship” was relatively short-lived and it was subsequently closed to the public because access to the ship is via a bridge under the North Wales railway line, which is too low for emergency vehicles. Over time, the vessel has become increasingly derelict. The ship was later used as a warehouse by its owners Solitaire Liverpool Ltd, a clothing company registered to the same address as Empirewise Ltd. Despite rumours that the ship would be scrapped, the company stated that they have no plans either to sell it or to restore it and its current use is uncertain. Despite having large amounts of its exterior paintwork covered in rust, the interior of the ship is in good condition. It was featured in the 2011 series of BBC2’s Coast. (Wikipedia)
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