In the days before the magazine Ships Monthly became too expensive, I would often read about, and see images of Shieldhall. As usual one would sigh and say “I wish I could see her”. Well, now I have seen her, and sailed on her.
She usually lives at the berth at the end of the Ocean Terminal, and is always visible from Town Quay. (She has since been shifted from this position)
However physically getting to her is a different story altogether. They seem to dislike single people walking through the dock gates as opposed to coming through with a vehicle. The harbour is a dangerous place so it is reasonably understandable. I was able to get to her once and managed to get images of her alongside, but getting on board is a different story. Most of the images used here were taken during the Maritime Festival of 5/6 May 2013. This page may be image intensive so please be patient
The vessel has had an interesting, if somewhat mundane career as a sludge disposal vessel and I am not going to expand on it because there is a website dedicated to her. However, she was withdrawn from service in 1985, and in 1988 a preservation society was formed to keep this classic beauty running.
She is a popular attraction too, and shortly before the festival she was off to Weymouth and I was fortunate enough to see her sail one cold morning.
This really made me even more determined to get on board so I made a beeline to the ship on the first day of the Maritime Festival. We were only allowed on board her just before the Lanacaster flypast and that was where I took my images of that event from. But, enough waffling. Now for some images:
Her machinery spaces are amazing. She still has a pair of triple expansion engines fired by a set of oil fired scotch boilers. The engine room is available for visits, and the engineering crew are happy to show people around.
Unfortunately, while at sea your specs and camera tend to fog up totally due to the heat and humidity. Her rudder quadrant is housed in a deckhouse at the stern and is fascinating to watch. Above this deckhouse is the emergency helm.
Her accommodation block consists of her bridge and wheelhouse, with the small shop and Captains day cabin on the next level, with a saloon below that. It is not a bulky structure, but is a tall one and it gives the ship her very distinctive look.
A lot of Brasso gets used on that bridge, and the woodwork is magnificent. It is not a large space though and I expect it could get very crowded. The saloon area houses the bar and a galley, and a skylight provides natural light to those below. It is a very pretty room.
The ship has two lifeboats, but they do not conform to modern regulations but have been retained along with their original davits.
She also has two steam whistles. The one is a proper ships whistle that sounds fantastic, and the other is a strange siren like thing that sounds decidedly like it has it’s own personality. The bell mouthed object is the strange siren mounted on Shieldhall’s rather small funnel.
Contrary to expectations she does not generate heaps of smoke out of that funnel, it probably smokes when they light up a burner in the boiler, but other than that there are just colourless hot gases coming from it. Her forepeak is a popular spot to stand while underway, and it has a steam windlass on it, as well as all the usual nautical appurtenances
It is also where her bell is housed.
At first I thought this was her electrical plant, but actually it is a forced draft fan, and it is situated in a small room on the main deck level and it is powered by a small steam engine. Trunking leads down into the boiler room from here.
Although there is a modern diesel generator on the upper deck by the funnel.
Passenger seating is mostly on benches on the foredeck. but there are plenty of nooks and crannies and shady areas to hang around in. A semi permanent awning has been erected forward of her funnel to provide more shaded seating. She does not have huge hatches on her foredeck either, rather there are a series of valves that were used to discharge her smelly cargo.
The nice thing about her is that almost none of the working bits of the ship have been removed, today she is almost unchanged from when she was built, and I think that is part of her charm. She has no pretensions about being a fancy hi-tech ferry. She was a working ship, and although retired, has retained her look. I hope that she will be with us for many years, and I look forward to going out on her again if ever I get the chance.
However, without donations and funds and volunteers and skills she will stop. So please support her as much as you can.
Bits and bobs.
There are many things on board that I liked, and I photographed a few of them as a result. These images are all about these bits and bobs.
I seem to recall that I did four trips with Shieldhall and I enjoyed each one. She is a unique relic to an age gone by, and I have a certain affection for her. Its just a pity that a day on her is no longer possible. The longest trip I did with her was down to Ryde, and I blogged about it too.
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated 06/04/2016