Save the S.S. Manxman (1955)


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The Manxman Steamship Company was set up to save the venerable classic coastal passenger steamer, SS Manxman. They hope to restore her to her former glory and return her to her birthplace in Birkenhead on Merseyside to tell the story of Cammell Laird, the Mersey and the tourist trade from North West England to the Isle of Man. She is the last of her type and is truly one of the UK’s most significant historic ship preservation projects at the moment. We at the Transport Britain website are delighted to support this very important project and urge you to give whatever support to it that you can financial or otherwise. She definitely deserves to be saved but time is fast running out.

The S.S. Manxman is the last coastal turbine passenger steamer that survives in the UK and represents all the great diversity of coastal steamers and ferries that once operated around Britain’s coasts. She was built in 1955 by Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd in Birkenhead, England for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for use on their passenger ferry route from Liverpool to Douglas on the Isle of Man. She was retired from service in 1982 and subsequently was used for static purposes in various locations including Preston, Liverpool, Hull before finally coming to Sunderland.

This vessel represents a very important part of the commercial and maritime history of the Irish Sea, Merseyside and the Isle of Man. She recalls a period in the Britain’s maritime history when steamers were a common sight on short sea ferry routes around our shores both with the railway owned routes and private companies such as the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and others. The Manxman and her sisters formed a vital link for the community from the Isle of Man to the mainland and the leisure-tourist industry was of great importance. The steamer fleet of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was well known and today the company still exists as the country’s oldest established ferry operator. Now the Manxman is the sole survivor of the classic turbine passenger steamer and represents the many of this type that served on Britain’s short sea ferry routes both for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, British Railways and many other operators.

In 2006 as the ship is under imminent threat of moving to Bilbao for scrapping by her present owners, a last ditch campaign was launched by the Manxman Steamship Company in partnership with the Liverpool Echo newspaper, Wirral Council and Liverpool City Council to raise the last bits of money that will enable the purchase of the Manxman, restoration and her return home to Merseyside. If this campaign is successful she will be Merseyside’s first merchant ship exhibit and is very historically significant as Europe’s last surviving steam turbine powered traditional cross channel ferry.

£500,000 is needed to bring her back from the River Wear in Sunderland to Merseyside. A further £4 million will be needed for her restoration to a functional state with conference and function rooms, maritime museum and educational and training facilities. Another £4 million would be required if she were to be restored to full operational condition.

Once saved it is proposed that the Manxman would be restored to her original condition as a magnificent historic ship housing a conference and events centre, hospitality training facility, maritime museum and also could be used as a film location as well. In the longer term if further funds were raised it may be possible to restore her to full operational condition in which case she would become a floating ambassador for Liverpool and Merseyside. She would also become a key focus of the European Capital of Culture 2008 and provide a lasting legacy for the Capital of Culture celebrations and she would be a crown jewel of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City World Heritage Site.

Some of the notable people and organisations supporting the Save the Manxman campaign include:

  • Liverpool City Council
  • Wirral Council
  • Liverpool Echo newspaper
  • Bibby Group Ltd
  • Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
  • Liverpool Culture Company
  • The Laird Foundation
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • Lairdside Maritime Centre
  • Merseyside Maritime Museum
  • The Mersey Partnership
  • BBC Radio Merseyside
  • Waverley Excursions Ltd
  • Professor Phil Redmond, founder of Mersey Television
  • Bill Kenwright, Chairman of Everton football club
  • Councilllor Mike Storey, former Leader of Liverpool City Council and currently Executive Member for Special Initiatives 2008
  • Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage
  • Captain Peter Corrin, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company marine operations manager and last captain of the S.S. Manxman
  • Captain Jack Ronan, former captain of the S.S. Manxman
  • The Rt. Hon. Frank Field MP
  • Lord Alton of Liverpool
  • Air Marshal Ian Mcfadyen, former Governor of the Isle of Man
  • Professor Peter Toyne, former Vice Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University and former Chairman of the Liverpool Culture Company
  • Lord Owen, Chancellor of Liverpool University
  • Paul O’Grady
  • Tom O’Connor
  • Jimmy Tarbuck
  • Ken Dodd
  • John Paton, formerly of the National Historic Ships Committee
  • Dr William Collier, G.L. Watson & Co.
  • John Syvret, Northwestern Shiprepairers Ltd
  • Peter Callaghan, Pallion Engineering Ltd
  • Stephen Payne, designer of the RMS Queen Mary 2 and vice president and chief naval architect of Carnival Corporation's Corporate Shipbuilding Division

She is truly a fine, unique and venerable survivor and deserves to be saved for the enjoyment of future generations as a representative of the classic British short sea passenger steamer. Long may she continue to prosper.

For more information about the “Save the S.S. Manxman” campaign and how to donate please visit the Manxman Steamship Company’s website:

www.ssmanxman.co.uk

Sadly on the 21st February 2008 the Manxman Steamship Company announced that due to the lack of a suitable berth for the ship in Merseyside due to the Peel redevelopment of the derelict docklands for their Wirral Waters and Liverpool Waters schemes. As a result it is unlikely that funding will be forthcoming for the ship and the project reluctantly has been concluded. As a result the ship will be scrapped and a historic part of Britain's maritime heritage will be lost forever.


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