Heritage Steam Tug’s Return To The River

The UK is home to several heritage ships both static and in service.  Some the likes of Cutty Sark, HMS Victory and the paddle steamer Waverly are well known as tourist attractions, while others are not.

Into the latter category we should perhaps highlight Daniel Adamson a twin screw, coal-fired steam tug built by the Tranmere Bay Development Company in 1903.  Today she is the last surviving steam-powered tug to be built on the Mersey and is believed to be the oldest, operational Mersey-built ship anywhere in the world.

Originally carrying the name Ralph Brocklebank after a former chairman of the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board and member of shipping dynasty T & J Brocklebank, she carried passengers between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool, a service that continued until 1915. During the First World War, she also had a short stint working for the Royal Navy as an unarmed patrol boat around the Liverpool coastal area.

Renamed Daniel Adamson ( a nod to ship canal’s founding father and first MSCC chairman, Daniel Adamson) in 1936, her refit boasted the clean bold lines, geometric patterns and block colours of the modern Art Deco style of the day. She was a miniature version of one of the newer generations of Atlantic liners, such as Liverpool’s own magnificent Cunard-White Star flagship RMS Queen Mary and had already had a King, Sultan and General as esteemed guests.

End of an era

As the 1980’s began to dawn, Daniel Adamson was nearing the end of her era, and her decline mirrored the ship canal’s demise. So in 1984 she was withdrawn from service.

In early February 2004, despite being a century-old maritime survival, she was earmarked for scrapping at Garston. The Daniel Adamson Preservation Society was founded by Dan Cross.  Dan purchased the heritage vessel for £1 and the restoration of the ship, abandoned for more than 20 years, began.

In 2016, renovated to her former glory and now a dual fuel ship (coal and volunteers), Daniel Adamson embarked on her next voyage as a living and working piece of maritime history. 

Known affectionally as The Danny she began to trade again this time as a visitor attraction and a floating venue.  Just as soon as she began to get into her stride the pandemic closed things down and the plucky little steam tug was laid up again.

Now running trips costing £30 per person she is to start cruising again beginning Friday 23rd July.

Interactive VR visitor experiences

The Danny has confirmed its 2021 cruise schedule, launched interactive VR visitor experiences, expanded its educational programme and improved community engagement plans.

all photos  Copyright johndavidsonphotos.co.uk, The Danny Copyright Daniel Adamson Preservation Society

Planning to resume operation with more than 20 cruises, the heritage Art-Deco steamship will be bringing back its’ popular gin cruises to complement the scenic river rides between Sutton Weaver and Acton Bridge on the River Weaver in Cheshire.

An exclusive one-departure only cruise from Acton Bridge to Ellesmere Port. The northern industrial port was where the derelict and destined-for-scrap steamship stood decaying for almost two decades before her £3.8 million restoration began.

Educational programmes will be launching this summer, as well as more community-focused activities and a dedicated recruitment drive to attract volunteers of all ages.  Building strong partnerships with youth, education and wellbeing authorities is also key to the charity-run Daniel Adamson Preservation Society and the team of volunteers’ dedication to the organisation. A hands-on education programme to develop self-confidence, creative and essential skills for young people will run throughout the summer. Focused on taking young people on a journey of self-discovery, a transformational learning experience programme will run until September 2021.

Engage the public

To engage the public The Danny has introduced immersive experiences embracing the latest interactive VR technology experiences.  Part-funded by the Culture Recovery Fund and Heritage Emergency Fund, the new development allows people to explore the engine and boiler room from a distance, dis assemble the boiler into components and the highlight; ‘drive The Danny’. This VR experience gives all ages the opportunity to navigate the 173 ton, 34 metre steamship along the North-West waterways.

The volunteer-run venture will run cruises between 23rd July and Friday 1st October 2021.