CELEBRATIONS are due to take place next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the first steamship voyage from Southampton.

The Prince of Cobourg launched a new era in cross-Solent travel by operating between Southampton and Cowes, beginning with her first trip on July 24 1820.

But by 1840 her engines had been removed and she was being used as a workshop in Woolston.

Now the operators of another steamship, the Southampton-based Shieldhall, have unveiled plans to stage a cruise next summer to mark the anniversary.

Daily Echo:

Shieldhall's 2020 cruise schedule - including a trip to the Nab Tower to celebrate her 65th birthday - was wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic.

But behind-the-scenes work on the vessel means she is in excellent condition, with volunteers looking forward to a full sailing programme next year.

A spokesman said: "Special trips held over from 2020 will be staged, including the sailing to the Nab Tower and a cruise to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first steamship to leave Southampton.

"Also included will be trips to view the Round the Island and Fastnet Races, and the Bournemouth Air Festival.

Daily Echo:

"There will be special themed cruises including a Titanic-based cruise and music cruises with tribute bands RU40, the Soulcatchers and Shieldhall’s house band the Stompers.

"A Government Heritage Emergency Grant awarded during the summer has assisted Shieldhall’s volunteers in carrying out essential maintenance work on the ship."

Lewis Folland, a member of Shieldhall’s marketing team, added: "We have published next year’s programme earlier than ever.

"Many of our guests unable to sail with us this year have offered their support and encouragement by holding tickets over to 2021, and we cannot wait to welcome them and other passengers on board."

Daily Echo:

Shieldhall was built at Renfrew in 1955 and was used by Glasgow Corporation to take sludge to dumping grounds near the Firth of Clyde.

She performed a similar task for Southern Water between 1980-1985, transporting material from Marchwood, Millbrook and Woolston to an area off the Isle of Wight.

Shieldhall has completed more than 500 voyages since she was bought by the Solent Steam Packet charity 30 years ago.