Part of the Acorn Archive

Hearts of Oak



Last days of  HMS Duke of York




Diesel Electric


Built 1950 William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton
Yard Nr 1448
Launched : 8th December 1950
Registered : Liverpool
Engines : Ruston & Hornsby Metro Vickers Electric

Propulsion: 4 oil 4SA each 6cylinder driving 4 generators each 300kw 300v DC; connected to 2 electric motors each 730 shp and 2shafts

12 knots
1234 grt
159ft x 48ft 1ins x 9ft

Royal Iris


Picture Copyright and


The ROYAL IRIS also had the dual role of being principal summer cruise boat and for this, she was designed with a Class III passenger certificate to enable her to sail on short excursions to sea. Originally the ROYAL IRIS could carry 2,296 passengers on her Class V certificate, and 1,000 when running on her seasonal Class III certificate.


April / May 1985 : She made a journey, around Land’s End, on a publicity drive for Merseyside. She sailed to London and under Tower Bridge, and berthed next to HMS Belfast. She completed the 1,500 mile trip without incident. Remarkable, especially considering her earlier brush with HMS DUKE OF YORK, September 1951, in her first year.



"Volume 8, Issue 3, June 2005"

"She was built in 1950 by the famous William Denny Bros, Dumbarton as a twin screw, diesel electric ship for Wallasey Corporation. She was the largest and most commodious vessel ever built for the all year round service from Liverpool to Seacombe and the summer service to New Brighton. Her gross tonnage was 1,234 tons and she was 160 ft overall in length and 48 ft in breadth. Outwardly she differed from any other ship and carried the Borough coat of arms proudly on the front of her streamlined, unusual and futuristic looking superstructure. Her hull underwater was designed to facilitate instant manoeuvring and control in the often-crowded shipping lanes of the River Mersey. She was also capable of withstanding gales, which regularly sweep the Mersey Estuary, especially during the winter months. She had a large area for dining and drinking and a spacious dance floor. A fish and chip cafe was an integral part of original design. Her passenger accommodation had room for over 2000 under cover. The Royal Iris's most distant seaward destination from Liverpool was to the Bar Lightship, 14 miles northwest and she also traversed the Manchester Ship Canal, carrying cruise passengers. In November 1991 she was sold for use as a floating nightclub in Liverpool, and later to the Thames. Today she is laid up in a neglected and derelict condition."


June 1957

"That month Sytner also launched another happy Merseyside tradition that was to continue for more than four decades—the Cavern’s legendary "riverboat shuffles," a series of four-hour dance cruises up and down the River Mersey aboard the M.V. Royal Iris, a beautiful, Art Deco-style ship that had been plying the river since 1951 and was popularly known as "the fish and chip boat" for the food served onboard during the dance cruises. The 'riverboat shuffles' continued until 1990, when the 40-year-old Royal Iris was retired from service, sold off and relocated to its present berth on the Welsh coast, where it now serves as a floating casino."


"According to Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles played on the Royal Iris four times

and, on the first two dates, shared the bill with Acker Bilk's Jazz Band. 25 August 1961; 6 July 1962;10 August 1962; 28 September 1962."


Thanks to Chris Allman and “gerrysea” of

for the above quotes

and for the picture below.

Visit the site for more background.


She is currently laid up on the River Thames

near the Thames Barrier Gardens in Woolwich, London.

Pictures at




For a full history, visit


Raymond Forward