Historic ship Balmoral may never sail again

The MV Balmoral at Ilfracombe. Picture: Contributed

The MV Balmoral at Ilfracombe. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

North Devon could have seen the last of well known pleasure steamer Balmoral unless an urgent fundraising appeal can hit its target

The MV Balmoral at sea

The MV Balmoral at sea - Credit: Archant

The historic ship Balmoral may never return to North Devon or sail again unless cash can be found urgently.

The charity which owns the 1949 pleasure steamer says a second poor sailing season in a row has left a huge gap in its finances and has launched an appeal to save her.

The Balmoral has been a regular visitor to Ilfracombe and Bideford as well as ports up and down the Bristol Channel.

MV Balmoral Fund trustee Paul Doubler said last season the ship lost a quarter of its scheduled sailings due to bad weather and some technical problems.

The Balmoral at Watchet harbour in August this year.

The Balmoral at Watchet harbour in August this year. - Credit: Archant

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“It has left us with a massive £350,000 to £500,000 shortfall, which we need to find before next season, if indeed there is to be a next season,” said Mr Doubler.

“So now we are appealing to everyone who loves and values the ship, or who has ever sailed on her in the past to answer our emergency appeal.

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“The irony is when we have sailed and when the weather has been kind we have proved she can be financially viable.”

The Balmoral, which can carry up to 600 passengers, was taken out of service in 2012 by its then owners the Waverley Steam Navigation Company.

Balmoral’s future looked bleak but a small dedicated band of volunteers in Bristol refused to give up on it and spent the next two-and-a-half years raising money and doing maintenance work.

Between public subscriptions and a Coastal Communities Fund Grant more than £650,000 was raised to return her to sailing in 2015.

Mr Doubler said: “The end of Bristol Channel passenger ship cruising would be a great loss for the historic pier in Clevedon, and harbours such Lydney, Sharpness, Minehead, Watchet and especially Ilfracombe, where she lands thousands of happy holiday makers from Wales and up channel.”

You can donate to the appeal at https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/mvbalmoralfundlimited or via cheques to the treasurer, MV Balmoral Fund Ltd*, 23 Adder Hill, Great Boughton, Chester, CH3 5RA.

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