Steamer Balmoral sailings suspended for next year

The MV Balmoral has been a regular visitor to the Clyde. Picture by Tim Tay reproduced under Creative Commons

The historic steamer Balmoral will not be visiting the Clyde nest year, it was announced yesterday.

White Funnel Limited has suspended all sailings of the 60 year-old vessel for 2018, saying the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) has ruled out the type of hull-replating work used ‘over many years’.

A statement said: “This work is expensive and exceeds the resources currently available to the owning charity, MV Balmoral Fund Limited.”

White Funnel offices will be closed for an ‘interim period’, the charity said, adding that this would help to focus on fund-raising and a £3..73m bid for Heritage Lottery Fund for major capital work.

The statement added: “The work will also ensure that Balmoral complies with changes to regulations affecting heritage ships which the MCA is currently developing.”

Holders of concessionary or complimentary tickets and vouchers have been told to retain these for use when Balmoral returns to service,while suppliers should address any correspondence to balmoral@whitefunnel.co.uk

The statement adds: “We regret that with the closure of the Bristol office no other correspondence can be entered into.

“For details of the charity’s appeal and news, please refer to its website, www.mvbalmoral.org.uk . To receive news of progress and future plans please register to receive the charity’s newsletter at www.heritagesteamers.co.uk/balmoral/news.htm

“We thank all our passengers, suppliers and a wide range of others for their unwavering support for the ship over the past three seasons since we returned Balmoral to service in 2015. We very much hope we can continue to rely on your support in the future.”

It had been feared that the steamer would not be able to sail in 2017, but a £200,000 fund-raising appeal was launched – then however only 55 of the 116 scheduled sailings took place, with a variety of problems being blamed.