The one time British Rail and Sealink car ferry Duke of Lancaster which has lane beached on the Dee estuary at Llanerch-y-Mor, North Wales since 1979 is gradually being repainted in a black livery.

The work which commenced in early 2017 considerably enhances the vessels appearance and involves painting over the street art graffiti dating from 2012 which was commissioned from various European artists and included a mural of the vessels first Captain John Irwin.

The 4,560gt 114m vessel which once carried 1,800 passengers and 105 cars is owned by local fashion trader John Rowley and was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast in 1956 and was modernised as a car ferry in 1970 through addition of a stern door.

The Duke of Lancaster’s career was spent sailing between Heysham and Belfast until the route closed in 1975. After two years serving on the Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire route she was laid up in Barrow due to her steam turbine engines proving costly. After arriving in North Wales she was marketed as the Funship and operated as a market until closure in the 1990s.

As well as repainting the vessels hull and upper superstructure black, steel work on each of the side promenades has been renewed and repainted white, the quay area around the vessel concreted and safety rails added plus a new access stair tower provided to the vessel; leading to speculation that she could reopen to the public in some form in the future.

Report and photo by Matt Davies