While looking up information for the Royal Iris Bus thread in the History
Information Request Subforum, I started reminiscing (always dangerous), so I decided to bore everyone with maritime things that were and things that could have been. 1. T.S.S. Manxman
The Manxman was built by Cammell Laird
in 1955, she was the last of six similar ships build by Lairds for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company between 1946 and 1955. The others being: King Orry (1946 - 1975), Mona’s Queen (1946 – 1962), Tynwald (1947 – 1974), Snaefell (1948 – 1978) and Mona’s Isle (1951 – 1980).
The ship had two oil fired boilers and her twin turbines gave a service speed of 20 knots. She sailed from Douglas to Liverpool on her maiden voyage on the 21st May 1955. She was able to carry a total of 2,393 passengers. She could also carry a small number of cars, but these had to be loaded by crane and considerably reduced the number of passengers that could be carried.
She was the last in a long line of “miniature” liners, she was a supremely elegant vessel, her fine lines being similar to the great liners of the past.
The Manxman was used all year round, mainly on the Liverpool to Douglas route but she was also used on the Dublin, Heysham and Llandudno routes. After the introduction of the new car ferries in the mid 1960s, and the closure of the Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Co in 1962, her main duties during the summer season were on the Liverpool to Llandudno and Llandudno to Douglas routes.
In 1981 the Steam Packet Co announced that the 1982 season would be the last for the Manxman. Her final sailing to Llandudno was on 1st September 1982, and her final journey to the Isle of Man was on 4th September 1982, on returning she was laid up in Birkenhead awaiting her fate.
The Manxman was bought by Marda (squash) Ltd for use as part of a new leisure complex at Preston Docks. The Manxman travelled to Preston under her own steam on 3rd October 1982, calling at Liverpool to pick up passengers.
Manxman's new owners intended to convert her into a museum and visitor centre, however this venture failed, and the ship was instead converted into a nightclub and restaurant.
Redevelopment of the Preston docks area meant that the Manxman had to move again, and she was towed back to Liverpool in 1991 where once again she was used as a nightclub in the Trafalgar Docks area.
In 1993 she was moved to Hull and was moored in the disused Ruscador Dry Dock. Here, a fire which broke out in August 1997 damaged much of the vintage wood panelling, although the worst damage was confined to the second class dining room. Following the fire she was moved to the yard of Pallion Engineering Company Ltd. on the River Wear, where she has remained.
The Manxman Steamship Company, a charitable trust, was formed in 2002 to purchase, restore and preserve the vessel, in December the same year she was listed by the National Historic Ships Unit as part of the UK "Designated Collection" of Historic Ships.
Things looked bright for the ship, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company provisionally agreed a berth in Birkenhead, both Wirral MBC and Liverpool City Council supported the trust, she appeared on the BBC and money poured in towards the £100,000 cost of bringing her home. Liverpool Capital of Culture Company offered a £60,000 grant, and a lottery grant from the Heritage Fund was applied for.
In April 2007 Peel Holdings, who had taken over the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, announced that “their [Peel Holding’s] project will undoubtedly involve some form of major visitor attraction ……. but certainly we would have to say that the Manxman would not be appropriate
Both Liverpool and Wirral Councils made it very clear to the trust that they could not renegotiate on the position taken by Peel, presumably because of the larger financial implications.
Following Peel Holding’s announcement, and the withdrawal of the berth previously offered by the MDHC, the Manxman Steamship Company released a statement saying that the rescue of the Manxman was not viable without a base on Merseyside, and that the “Trust has concluded, obviously with great regret, that the envisaged project cannot be progressed”.
The only other hope of saving the Manxman was an American organisation, but their interest ended in December 2008, due to the global financial problems.
In January 2009, Peel Holdings confirmed that their position regarding Manxman was unchanged i.e. “she is considered to be inappropriate”.
In March 2009, Manxman is still in one piece, but her condition continues to deteriorate, and a vertical crack in the hull (adjacent to the boiler room) is worsening significantly.
Her owners r are now re-examining the costs of breaking her up. Time is not running out – it has run out. She was the last remaining classic British passenger turbine steamer, she was also among the last surviving passenger ship constructed by Cammell Laird
- she merited preservation in the long term and deserved public support. Sadly it was not to be and she is now lost forever.