SS Shieldhall

A heritage cargo-passenger ship, included in the National Historic Fleet, SS Shieldhall was built and launched on the Clyde in 1955, to a classic pre-Second World War design.

She had a long and successful first career with Glasgow Corporation – year round, carrying treated sludge out to sea and, in the summer, taking passengers ‘doon the watter’ on pleasure trips. Bought in 1977 by Southern Water she was finally withdrawn from commercial service in 1985 – but saved and purchased for £20,000 in 1988 by the charity that still operates her now.

Today the 2,000 tonne Shieldhall is a  unique seagoing ‘time capsule’. She provides a working example of steamship machinery both above and below deck, typical of the cargo and passenger ships that plied the oceans of the world between the 1870s and 1960s, after which they became all but extinct.

Whilst other heritage ships are held permanently in dry dock, Shieldhall remains active, with a cruise programme that allows passengers to access the engine room with its two impressive 800HP steam engines at work and
the bridge, complete with traditional instruments and gleaming brasswork.

NEWS - Under 3 weeks to SS Shieldhall's first sailing weekend!

There are less than 3 weeks to go until Shieldhall sets sail on her first cruise of the season. On Sat 27 May Shieldhall will set out on a 3hr cruise down Southampton Water, with guest Maria Newbery, curator at SeaCity Museum on board. The Pavilion at SeaCity Museum hosts the acclaimed exhibition ‘Port Out, Southampton Home’, which will shortly close on 4 June 2017. Maria will be bringing a number of rarely seen objects from the SeaCity Collection and will answer questions relating to Southampton’s maritime history. Shieldhall’s ‘Port Out, Southampton Home’ cruise is the first of three trips over the Bank Holiday Weekend – the second, a 2hr Docks Trip on Sunday 28 May between 4pm – 6pm sees up to 6 children under 16 years of age welcomed free of charge with an accompanying adult. The final Bank Holiday Monday trip is a 3hr cruise down Southampton Water with a Titanic theme, recalling Southampton’s links with the doomed liner.

NEWS - New for 2017: Blow the Shieldhall Whistle and help keep her afloat! 

Help keep SS Shieldhall in steam by letting off steam! Now, for just £5, you can enjoy the experience of visiting the bridge, and – under the supervision of the Shieldhall captain – sound the Shieldhall whistle! ‘Whistle blowing’ is available on Shieldhall trips to meet departing cruise ships, with numbers strictly limited. It’s great fun, with the cruise ships usually responding in turn!

To book, viait

NEWS - SS Shieldhall group packages well received at Great for Groups Show!

SS Shieldhall was present at the Great for Groups Show at Kempton Park, promoting joint group packages with SeaCity Museum and Southampton Tour Guides, and also Hollycombe Steam in the Country.  Groups can book special ‘In the Footsteps of Titanic’ all day Southampton packages on all of Shieldhall’s 3hr sailings in 2017, whilst there is a chance to enjoy ‘Steam on Water, Steam on Land, Steam by Day and Steam by Night’ when Shieldhall links with Hollycombe, based at Liphook on the Hants / Sussex border. The steam based attraction commences its Fairground at Night season on Sat 16 September, which coincides with Shieldhall’s last Saturday sailing in 2017.

For more info on these packages, please visit:

NEWS - Steamship Shieldhall to spend week in Poole!

Steamship Shieldhall is about to embark on her summer holidays, leaving the confines of the Eastern Docks in Southampton to sail to Poole on Monday 15 August, where she will spend one week before returning to Southampton on the following Monday, 22 August. The trips to and from Poole are amongst the most eagerly anticipated of the season, with Shieldhall passing the sights of Southampton Water, The Needles, Hengistbury Head, Old Harry Rocks, Poole Harbour, Sandbanks and Brownsea Island.

Whilst in Poole, Shieldhall will be moored alongside Poole Quay, where she can be visited on Tues 16, Weds 17 and Thurs 18 August between 10am – 4pm. Visitors will be able to access the ship’s Engine and Boiler Rooms and the Bridge, and learn how a steamship operates. The largest working steamship of her kind in Europe, Shieldhall will also provide a great viewing platform when she visits the Bournemouth Air Festival on Fri 19, Sat 20 and Sun 21 August. For the Festival, Shieldhall will be anchored between Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers, commanding some of the very best views available. An informed commentary on the sights and sounds of the air show will be given on board. Shieldhall has a licensed bar, and will be serving a range of hot and cold food. Tea, coffee, ice cream and other refreshments will also be available.

Tickets for the Saturday trip to the Air Festival have now sold out, whilst tickets for the one-way trip to Poole are in short supply. However there is good ticket availability on other dates.

SS Shieldhall’s Poole programme:

Mon 15 August, 10am – 4pm One-way trip to Poole. Departs Eastern Docks Southampton. Limited ticket availability. Adults £35, Children £10, Family £80. Passengers make own-way back to Southampton.

Tues 16, Weds 17, Thurs 18 August, 10am – 4pm – Open for visits alongside Poole Quay. Refreshments available on board. Tickets Adults £2.50, accompanied children free.

Fri 19 August, 10am – 7pm. Cruise to the Bournemouth Air Festival – great views from the open decks of the ship! Tickets Adults £42, children £10, Family £94.

Sat 20 August (tickets sold out), Sun 21 August, 10am – 7pm. Cruise to the Bournemouth Air Festival – great views from the open decks of the ship! Tickets Adults £48, children £20, Family £100.

Mon 22 August, 10am – 4pm One-way trip to Southampton. Departs Poole Quay. Adults £35, Children £10, Family £80. Passengers make own-way back to Poole.

Tickets are available on line, or through the ticket manager on 0844 357 2329 (calls cost 7p per minute from a landline, calls from mobile can vary).


NEWS - Boiler's at the ready....., June 2016

Steamship Shieldlhall is set to commence her 2016 sailing programme from Southampton. Recently back from dry dock in Falmouth where she was given a full bill of health and a sparkling paint job to the hull, her team of volunteers can't wait to welcome guests on board. Saturday 4th June sees two sailings, with the fist - a 2hr morning cruise (11am - 1pm) around Southampton Docks - being an ideal starter trip for families, with up to 6 children admitted free per adult. Shieldhall will pass the cruise ships Independence of the Seas, Emerald Princess and Braemar in position to see the same cruise ships depart down Southampton Water, with the time-honoured sounding of sirens and whistles as the ships acknowledge one another. Captain for both cruises will be Clare Holmes - very appropriate, as Shieldhall will also be the venue on Saturday for the launch of a new book: "From Cabin 'Boys' to Captains - 250 Years of Women at Sea" by author Jo Stanley.

Sunday's 5th June all-day trip gives the Shieldhall team a real chance to stretch her sea legs, with an all-day Solent Cruise (11.30am - 6pm), with Shieldhall's return to port aain coinciding with the departure of cruise ships, this time the Britannia, celebrity Eclipse, Azura, and Queen Victoria.

There will be an infomative commentary on all trips, and a wide selection of refeshments available. But above all, guests will not want to miss the opportunity to access Shiledhall's Engine Room, Boiler Room and Bridge, and appreciate the skills of the volunteers and original machinery helping to keep Shieldhall 'alive and steaming'. 

Tickets for all trips, which depart Berth 48, Eastern Docks, Southampton (entrance via Dock Gate 4) can be made online at or through call the Ticket Manager on 0844 357 2329 (calls cost 7p per minute from a landline, calls from a mobile may vary).

Find out more here

NEWS - July 2015 - 60th Birthday Cruise as Shieldhall steams on

Following major repairs, SS Shieldhall is now able to offer a varied and attractive cruise programme during the summer months.  In July 2015, the vessel celebrated her 60th birthday with a three hour cruise, which partly followed some of the route taken whilst in service with Southern Water in the late 1970s and early 1980s. 

Mayor of Southampton and Shieldhall Chairman.

Shieldhall HLF Project Manager Graham Mackenzie, is looking forward to an exciting summer.  ‘We’ve designed our cruise programme to offer something for everyone, from family friendly 2 hour cruises, to Americas Cup World Series and Fastnet Races, music cruises and specialist interest trips.  We will be offering commentary on board, so our guests can learn about the history of the docks and the sights and sounds of Southampton Water and the Solent.’  Read more.

Tickets for 2015 sailings are now available and can be booked on 0844 357 2329 (calls should cost 5p/minute from a landline), or e-mail: or visit

NEWS - April 2014 - Shieldhall undergoing repair work in Falmouth

The vessel has now spent her second week in dry dock, receiving essential repairs as part of the HLF funded project.  Click here to see some images of the work being carried out.  

NEWS - Jan 2014 - Saving Shieldhall: Progress Report on the projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Progress has continued at a steady rate since the grant award in April 2013:

- Awning: this has been erected on the Boat Deck which will provide an additional amount of cover that can be used to its best advantage providing additional cover and protection to passengers.
- First and Steerage class: offered on dining cruises, a reflection of how life was until the 1970s, after which passengers were only defied by the standard of cabin and dining options.
- Welcome Terminal: By the start of the excursion season, visitors should see the Welcome Terminal adjacent to the end of the gangway. There will also be photos and information for those that are waiting, to view and read.
- In late March, a production of 'Lost Children', in conjunction with the Nuffield Theatre, will be held. This tells the story of a number of children who were involuntarily emigrated to Australia in the 1950s. Set in 1955, the year of Shieldhall's entry into service. Tickets are available from the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton.
- Engine room: Specialist contractors have been employed to remove the old pipe insulation in the engine room, that had traces of asbestos. It's been replaced with modern materials with the outer face of Admiralty linen.
- In conjunction with ST Challenge, the team have taken on a consultancy to take on the role of Learning & Participation Officer. This role will help them to engage with schools and colleges, but also the general public as a major part of their outreach activities. This is a major opportunity to get more people of all ages aboard to help with the continued preservation of the vessel.
- Youth Training Days: this year, the team plan to run a number of these alongside and at least one at sea to enable young people to experience working with materials that are bulkier than would be expected with the sailing dinghys and other smaller craft they ae used to working with. The aim is to pass on experience.
- The final project underway is to revamp the website and specifically to allow passengers to book tickets online. This is expected to 'go live' this month.

Source: Solent Steam Packet, Jan 14.

NEWS - Dec 2013 - A&P Falmouth, the internationally renowned ship repair company and part of the A&P Group, has won a major contract with the historic steamship SS Shieldhall

The contract will see A&P Falmouth undertaking major hull repair and modification work in dry dock, extending the life of the historic steamship for another 25 years. Work will take place in April 2014 and is being funded by a £1.4million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Graham Mackenzie, Marketing Director of Solent Steam Packet, said: "It was a highly competitive contract because we had to comply with HLF's procurement guidelines and get a minimum of three quotes.

"We chose A&P Falmouth because it not only represented the best value for money, but because it put together a very detailed response and we felt it enabled us to go back to the yard we have worked with for the past 10 years, where we have built up a rapport with the management and the workers on the coal face."

The hull repairs to be undertaken by A&P will mean Shieldhall will gain a fully certified UK Class III Certificate enabling her to take a 'conservation in action' message beyond her Solent base.

Item taken from, Dec 2013

NEWS - July 2013 A busy and successful month for Shieldhall, who celebrated her 25th anniversary 'In Preservation' with a special cruise and staging of Youth Seamanship Days.

The £1.4m Heritage Lottery grant (awarded earlier this year) has enabled the staging of two 'Young Persons' Days' on board in June and July, where teams of scouts and sea cadets learnt seamanship skills under the watchful eye of Training Officer Richard Jarvis and Vice-President Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Activities undertaken during the training days included learning the duties of the Officer Of the Watch, how a ship is steered and a full tour of the ship's main machinery spaces where they were shown how steam is raised and used to power the triple expansion engines.


NEWS - May 2013 - Shieldhall set for Royal starring role at Southampton Maritime Festival 5/6 May

Volunteers aboard SS Shieldhall are set to be given the seal of Royal approval when HRH Prince Michael of Kent visits the working steamship on Sunday 5 May, as part of the celebrations of the Southampton Maritime Festival.

This will be the first opportunity for visitors to discover the works to be funded by the recent HLF grant to Shieldhall, and she will be ‘in steam’ for visitors to the Festival Weekend, from 4pm on Saturday 5 May (following the Royal visit) and from 10am on Sunday 6 May. The Festival will then mark Shieldhall’s first cruise of the season, when she departs Berth 48 for a 2 hour taster Solent cruise at 4pm on the Sunday.

Managing Director Graham Mackenzie is looking forward to the weekend: ‘It is a great honour to welcome HRH Prince Michael aboard. He will be welcomed by our team including President Maldwin Drummond and Vice Presidents Sir William McAlpine and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, and will unveil a painting of Suhaili   - Sir Robin’s boat when he famously single-handedly non-stop circumnavigated the world in 1969. This will then be displayed permanently on the ship.’

NEWS- April 2013 - The Solent Steam Packet Limited (TSSP) was awarded a £1.4million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to enable to the charity to secure the steamship’s future by undertaking a three-year project Saving Shieldhall – Learning through Conservation in Action.

Essential hull works to meet modern regulations, improved passenger facilities and state-of-the art interpretation will enable the volunteers who maintain and operate this unique vessel to preserve and deliver the living experience of a steamship at work for future generations.

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