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The MV Balmoral: A Short History


The MV Balmoral is arriving at Llandudno from the 7th of July to the 10th this year – and we’re very excited to take a look at the ship as it will land on Llandudno’s historic pier this Thursday. The ship’s history is extensive – the vessel is said to be one of the UK’s greatest national treasures. It proudly holds the title of being Britain’s “Grand Old Lady”, the most travelled excursion ship in British history – something that we feel is worthy of praise!

Much-loved and appreciated, the MV Balmoral has had quite the lifetime. Among other things, the MV Balmoral has acted as a royal cruise ship, served as the crown jewel of the Coronation Fleet Review of Queen Elizabeth II. Furthermore, it has acted as consort to another queen as she accompanied the utterly majestic RMS Queen Mary on her final departure from British waters, in 1967.

The MV Balmoral has a truly fascinating history. Originally built in 1949 as flagship of the Southampton Red Funnel Fleet, and mostly used around the picturesque Isle of Wight. In 1969, the MV Balmoral was transferred to the Bristol Channel and became flagship of the P&A Campbell White Funnel Fleet of excursion ships. Although she was based in Bristol, the MV Balmoral made frequent trips to North Wales and the South Coast for 11 years as part of the Campbell White fleet – before being sold and becoming, of all things, a floating restaurant in Dundee.

A tragic end to such a fantastic vessel, yet thankfully, it is not the end of her story.

In 1985, the MV Balmoral was purchased by supporters of Waverly (for the uninformed, the world’s very last seagoing paddle steamer) and major renovation work began on the Balmoral to get her back to her old self. After major renovations, the MV Balmoral triumphantly re-entered service in 1986 as a support ship to the Waverly, serving the paddle steamer faithfully and purposefully until further works were carried out in 2003.

The works, themselves funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund among others, was undertaken to include brand new engines, and sympathetic refurbishment of the ship’s Dining Saloon based on the original design which was removed as part of the Balmoral’s stint as a floating restaurant. Since then, further work on passenger facilities has commenced and been completed as funding has allowed, and the ship’s aesthetic is very faithful to it’s original self – the ship that served the Royals.

Like Waverly, The MV Balmoral is a member of the National Historic Fleet, and is officially recognised as a vessel of national importance. It, alongside the Waverley, keeps alive the great British tradition of coastal day excursions – cruising from all areas of the British Coastline, having carried an estimation of well over two million passengers throughout the years – so come stay with us at the Cae Mor Seafront Bed and Breakfast in Llandudno, and see this Grand Old Lady for yourself!

Image Credit: Matt Buck | CC BY 2.0