Who remembers the Flintshire Funship?

01/02/2012

This story in the North Wales Leader newspaper brought back memories for me. I grew up near the North Wales coast and remember visiting this docked ship as a child, before it was closed down in the mid-80s. It used to have an amusement arcade as well as market stalls. I would be interested to know if anyone has any memories or stories about this unusual attraction that they can share?

CAMPAIGNERS have mounted a fresh bid to restore an iconic ship to its former glory. The once-popular Duke of Lancaster was beached at Llanerch-y-mor, near Mostyn, in 1979 but ambitious plans to transform it into a retail and leisure complex fell flat.
Fans of the ship have now launched a new bid for its revival and envision the former passenger ferry as a luxury floating hotel. The campaign is being led by Ashley Gardner, 47, from Brynteg, Wrexham, who first took a shine to the vessel when she worked at nearby fabric store Abakhan.

She told the Leader: “It sounds bizarre but there is an aura about the ship. “We want to make it famous again and get as many people interested in a restoration project as we can. We accept it’s never going to sail again, but our ultimate goal is to transform it into a hotel that would draw people from all over the world.”

The Duke of Lancaster was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1956 and operated as a European cruiser until 1969 when it was converted for use as a car ferry.

Liverpool-based Empirewise Ltd bought the ship and beached her on the disused fishing dock at Mostyn. It opened to the public in 1980 as The Funship and provided space for 100 market stalls together with a café, bingo hall, amusement arcade and children’s play area. But ambitious plans to convert the cabins into a hotel came to nothing when the owners failed to obtain planning consent.

The ship, which is now owned by Liverpool company Solitaire and the Rowley family, was closed to the public in the mid-1980s. Miss Gardner is running her campaign from the Duke of Lancaster Appreciation Society website and on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

The fans’ next venture is to produce a documentary on the ship’s history for video-sharing website YouTube. “It’s very early days but the response we’ve had so far has been really positive,” added Miss Gardner.

Last year it was revealed  there were plans to shoot scenes from the zombie blockbuster World War Z – starring Hollywood actor Brad Pitt – aboard the ship.

Coastal ranger Mike Taylor said legal officers at Flintshire Council were approached by movie bosses with a view to shooting scenes for the apocalyptic drama but plans never came to fruition. Anthony Rowley, 42, whose father John Rowley is one of the ship’s owners, would like to see the ship restored but warned significant investment would be needed.

He said: “There are a million people with a million ideas but nobody has yet come up with any money. Our family would be open to any ideas to bring the ship back into use but realistically it is going to cost millions. “The ship is listed on the historical ships register so it might be possible to set up a charity to obtain grants.”

More info here: http://www.dukeoflancaster.net/

Comments (1)

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I remember this venture as a couple of my dear departed friends Harry Thomas and Kathy Barton got involved with this, but it never a[[eared to get off the ground. It was a shame as the idea was good at the time, not sure in today’s economic climate though, but it is a shame to see the ship just lying there derelict.

Joyce Todd
n orth west
10/02/2012, 17:14

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