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BALMORAL was ordered in October 1947 by Red Funnel of Southampton as a replacement for the paddle steamer of the same name. She was built at the famed Thornycroft yard at Southampton and was launched on a hot June day in 1949. She had an attractive appearance and had a dual role of providing passenger ferry services between Southampton and Cowes on the Isle of Wight as well as carrying out a wide range of wonderfully scenic coastal excursions around the Isle of Wight during summer months.

BALMORAL instantly became a popular ship on the Cowes ferry service and soon had an enviable reputation for speed, comfort and cleanliness on her cruises around the Isle of Wight. Her regular excursions were enlivened by many special sailings. These included participation in the glorious Coronation Fleet Review in 1953, welcoming HRH The Duke of Edinburgh aboard in May 1958 and bidding farewell to the RMS QUEEN MARY as she left Southampton for her final voyage in September 1967.

As car traffic to the Isle of Wight increased during the mid 1960s, it was clear that BALMORAL wouldn't fit into Red Funnel's future plans for large car ferries that were then needed by the growing number of people that wanted to take their car on holiday to the Isle of Wight. It was also apparent, that the tradition of coastal cruising was changing and BALMORAL'S future as part of the Red Funnel fleet would soon be at an end. BALMORAL was quietly withdrawn in 1968 and her days operating as flagship of the Red Funnel fleet ended. Through her preservation, BALMORAL provides a strong historic link to the famous Red Funnel fleet.

  • BALMORAL was launched on 27 June 1949 by Mrs C. B. Pinnock who was the wife of the Chairman of Red Funnel

  • BALMORAL cost Red Funnel £150,762 to build. This comprised of £79,480 for the hull, machinery £37,100, overheads £27,970 and £10,200 builders profit

  • BALMORAL'S first master was Captain A. Gattrell. She entered service on 13 December 1949 and soon became the flagship of the famous Red Funnel fleet

  • Red Funnel started using BALMORAL'S funnel as a logo on handbills from 1952 onwards. This still continues to this day!

  • After BALMORAL'S launch, over 200 guests assembled at the Polygon Hotel for a celebratory lunch. Mrs Pinnock was presented with a diamond encrusted wrist watch for launching BALMORAL

  • BALMORAL is now the last large operational coastal excursion ship that took part in the 1953 Coronation Fleet Review

  • BALMORAL became a royal yacht when HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh became a passenger on 19 May 1958 when he opened the new harbour at Shoreham

  • BALMORAL escorted the three-funnelled QUEEN MARY on her final departure from Southampton on 31 October 1967

  • BALMORAL was built to carry twelve cars. These were carried in the area now occupied by the Dining Saloon

  • BALMORAL is now the oldest excursion ship in existence that was once operated by the well-loved Red Funnel fleet
balmoral past and presentred funnel yearswhite funnel yearspreservation years
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