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SS Shieldhall

The "Shieldhall" is a Heritage ship included in the National Historic Ships Core Collection and is generally recognised to be the largest working steamship of her type in Britain and probably Europe.

The ship was laid down in October 1954, launched 7th July 1955 and entered service in October of that year. Built by Lobnitz & Co., of Renfrew, she is of special interest as she was built on older classic lines with a traditional wheelhouse, of riveted and welded construction with a straight stem and a cruiser stern.

Shieldhall was operated by Glasgow Corporation to transport treated sewage sludge down the river Clyde to be dumped at sea. She continued a tradition, dating back to the First World War, that Glasgow's sludge vessels carried organised parties of passengers when operating during the summer months. Thus Shieldhall was built with accommodation for 80 passengers.

In 1976, after 21 years of faithful service on the Clyde, Shieldhall was laid up. Shieldhall was purchased by the Southern Water Authority in 1977 and after minor modifications, she carried sludge from Marchwood, Millbrook and Woolston in Southampton to an area south of the Isle of Wight for five years from 1980. It was when she was suddenly withdrawn from service in July 1985, due to rising fuel prices, that active preservation began.

As a result of an initiative by the Southampton City's Museum Services, a preservation society was formed and "Shieldhall" was purchased from Southern Water in 1988, for £20,000. The Society is registered as an Industrial and Provident Society as The Solent Steam Packet Limited and operates as a charity.

She is now the largest working steam ship in Northern Europe.

All work associated with the Society and "Shieldhall" is carried out by unpaid volunteers.  Much work has been done on the ship by these volunteers in order to keep her in sea-going condition. The saloon has been restored and the galley brought up-to-date. Crewed by volunteers, "Shieldhall" is a frequent sight around the Solent running excursions and such like. She has been to Holland for the Dordrecht Steam Festival and she has been an attendee at each of the International Festivals of the Sea at Bristol and Portsmouth.

During the summer months, excursions are normally run in the Solent area and during the course of these voyages, passengers are encouraged to visit the Bridge and machinery spaces.


"Shieldhall" makes a special venue for the very special occasion. On board "Shieldhall", we can satisfy the needs of the avid steam enthusiast as well as those who like comfortable surroundings and good food in a unique environment. Whatever the event, our guests are welcome to visit the bridge and engine room.

Work has been completed on essential repairs and "Shieldhall" regained her passenger certificate in time for a successful 2012 sailing season.

Private cruise "Shieldhall" offers cruising with the silky smoothness of steam. We don't hurry as we wish our passengers to enjoy the relaxing effect and the wide open deck spaces. For cruising, we now take up to 200 passengers.

Static If you wish to stay alongside, the saloon can take 65 people for a full sit down meal or up to 150 for a less formal buffet. We have a fully licensed bar with a wide range of beers, wines and spirits

Special Functions We are always pleased to consider requests for wedding receptions, special celebrations, or use by Clubs and Societies.

Conference Facilities "Shieldhall" offers a unique facility to companies and institutions that require a completely different venue.

Membership Information

Membership Fees are: Adult ..... £20.00 p.a Joint/Family Membership ..... £28.00 p.a. Joint Unwaged Membership ..... £22.00 p.a. Unwages/Cadet/Student/Junior ..... £15.00 p.a. Life Member ..... £1000.00


  • The Solent Steam Packet (Services) Ltd.
  • Ticket Manager
  • Larachbeg, Wellow Top Road Ningwood
  • Yarmouth
  • PO41 0TL
  • Isle of Wight


  • 0844 357 2329 (Excursion Booking)
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.