THE largest working steamship in Britain has returned to Southampton Water following a £250,000 refurbishment. 

Steamship Shieldhall is now ship-shape ahead of a busy weekend of sailings. 

She will head out into the Eastern Solent and the Nab Tower on Saturday (July 2) followed by the Western Solent and Hurst Castle on Sunday (July 3).

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Guests will spot a new-look ship with an electric-blue painting to her hull, just visible above the water line. The new, high-tech silicone coating is more environmentally friendly than traditional anti-foul, and with a longer lifespan, estimated at ten years.

During the pandemic, Shieldhall was unable to sail, leading to a build-up of barnacles and mussels which consequently all-but destroyed the paint covering of the hull.

Thanks in large part to a Cultural Asset Fund Grant of £196,415, 77% of the estimated total project refurbishment costs, Shieldhall is now looking pristine and ready to embark on a busy summer season.

Shieldhall Charity Chairman John Rose was delighted with the work carried out in Falmouth. He said: "Shieldhall is looking fantastic and a credit to our volunteers and the A&P team in Falmouth.

"Whilst we unfortunately had to miss a couple of sailings due to the nature of the work, we now find ourselves in a very positive position and can’t wait to welcome guests back on board this weekend.

"We remain very grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for their support of almost £200,000, which has given us assurance that Shieldhall will continue to be ‘Alive and Steaming’ for many years to come."

Re-launching her new look on Saturday, Shieldhall will venture out into the Eastern Solent, circling the near-mythical ‘Nab Tower’. Guests will be encouraged to look out for its famous lean! Also on board will be volunteers from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, who will showcase their ‘Secrets of the Solent’ campaign.

American Independence Day is marked on Sunday when Shieldhall welcomes Soulcatchers on board, performing soul and summer-influenced tracks. Shieldhall will sail to Hurst Castle, passing the New Forest Coast, Lepe, Exbury and Beaulieu and the north shore of the Isle of Wight.

For details of all cruises this summer, visit



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