A vessel that had had many ups and downs in her long career was kept alive by a small group of volunteers at her berth in Bristol’s Inner Harbour. It did appear to be an impossible task to raise the vast amount of money required for this much loved classic coastal steamer to ever sail again.
However a “virtual miracle” was achieved by the MV Balmoral Fund Ltd when over a quarter of a million pounds was raised by generous donations from supporters from all around the UK. This not only kept her maintained but funded the huge costs of getting her to and from dry docking and all the associated “5 Year Survey” repair costs in 2014.
In late January; a £334,000 grant from the Coastal Communities Fund was awarded. This fund has been generous to many UK piers, harbours and “seaside” initiatives. But Balmoral (as they proudly told us) was their first ship.
What better way is there of linking coastal communities while also bringing in economic prosperity than Balmoral. She can regularly bring several hundred visitors a day with associated spending power into and out of our seaside, river and harbour locations. Her first fare paying cruise in almost three years will be on June 19th. Captain Steve Mallett has been employed and is in the process of working the ship up to take her 2015 “Passenger Certificate”. A crew has been taken on by our new operating company “White Funnel Ltd” a name synonymous with famous pleasure steamers of the past. With a small office set up in Bristol within sight of Balmoral's winter berth.
Now the huge task is to successfully sell and market the 2015 timetable. The sailing plan for summer 2015 is a few days on the Bristol Channel and then to Whitehaven and the North West for cruises in that area to the Isle of Man. Then some days spent on the North Wales coast and Liverpool before being back to Bristol Channel for a full July and August season. Then up to North Wales & Liverpool again for early September, before a last few days on Bristol Channel September 18th to 21st. Please go to www.whitefunnel.co.uk for our full timetable and all latest news.