The historic steamship Shieldhall returned from her annual dry dock in Falmouth looking pristine and ship-shape ahead of a busy weekend of sailings, which see her head out into the Eastern Solent and the Nab Tower on Saturday 2 July, followed by the Western Solent and Hurst Castle on Sunday 3 July.

Guests will spot a ‘new-look’ Shieldhall, 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 10 years.

During the pandemic Shieldhall was unable to sail, her lack of movement through the water 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 per cent of the estimated total project refurbishment costs,

Shieldhall is now looking pristine and ship-shape and ready to embark on a busy summer season.

Shieldhall Charity Chairman John Rose was delighted with the work carried out in Falmouth:

‘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.’

Relaunching her new look this Saturday, Shieldhall will venture out into the Eastern Solent (10.30am – 6pm) circling the 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 3 July, 11.30am – 6pm, when Shieldhall welcomes the excellent ‘Soulcatchers’ on board, performing soul and summer influenced tracks, hopefully on a sun drenched open deck! Shieldhall will sail to Hurst Castle, passing the New Forest Coast, Lepe, Exbury and Beaulieu and the north shore of the Isle of Wight.

Shieldhall’s cruise to Portsmouth Harbour on Sun 17 July has sold out, but an extra date has been added to the programme, with Shieldhall staging a ‘Steam to the Solent’ cruise on Sat 16 July between 3.30pm – 7pm.

On a very busy cruise ship day, it is expected that Shieldhall will see the departure of Iona, Celebrity Silhouette, Ventura and MSC Virtuosa – with lots of whistle tooting expected!

On all cruises, guests have the opportunity of visiting Shieldhall’s impressive Engine and Boiler Rooms; to meet the Captain on the Bridge; walk the teak decks and listen to an informed commentary on the sights and sounds of Southampton Water and the Solent. A wide range of refreshments is available on board. Free parking is available close to the Shieldhall berth in the Western Docks.

For more information on all the cruises mentioned, including details of prices and joining instructions, plus a full list of 2022 sailings, please visit www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk, or call 0844 357 2329 (Calls cost 7p per minute from a landline, calls from a mobile may vary).

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