Southampton-based ferry company Red Funnel has donated more than £13,000 to help restore one of its former historic vessels, the tug tender Calshot.

At present Calshot, moored alongside 50 berth in the city’s Eastern Docks, is in the middle of an extensive overhaul and refit to bring her back to the condition in which she was first launched in Woolston more than 80 years ago.

Red Funnel’s chief executive, Kevin George, handed the cheque for £13,406 – raised by passengers on the cross-Solent ferries over the last two years – to Terry Yarwood, from the Calshot Trust, on board the tug tender, watched by volunteer crew members working on the vessel.

“We are very grateful to our customers for donating this money to help restore Calshot,” said Mr George. “The ship played an important part in Red Funnel’s history, and we are all very keen to support the Calshot Trust in their ongoing efforts to raise sufficient money to fund the major restoration works still needed.”

Calshot earned her place in maritime history serving alongside world-famous liners such as the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary in Southampton.

She was built by John I Thornycroft & Co Ltd at Woolston for Red Funnel in 1929 and was certified to carry 566 passengers.

She played her part in the Second World War and was requisitioned by the Government to tender the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the tug tender served as a headquarters ship at Juno Beach before rejoining the Red Funnel’s fleet in 1946, where she remained in service until 1964.

Mr Yarwood said: “We are very grateful to Red Funnel for this cheque as there is still a large amount of work to be done which all requires money.

“However, the trust’s volunteers are making progress and the ship’s funnel has now been restored in keeping with her original appearance.”

n The tragedy of SS Stella – Hampshire Heritage, page 42