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Tuxedo boat

Sea of dreams - the floating night club.

Tuxedo Princess - the floating nightclub

Tyneside's floating nightclub, The Tuxedo Princess, has been a feature of the Gateshead waterfront for more than 20 years. Now it's the end of the line for the boat which has become a Tyneside icon. Inside Out looks back in time...

The Tuxedo Princess is one of the most recognisable landmarks on Tyneside but it is soon to disappear after a stay of 24 years on Gateshead's riverside.

At today's prices it would cost £15-20 million to buy, refit and install Tuxedo Princess.

Poster for Caledonian Princess

A proud history on the high seas.

The Tuxedo Princess was originally the TSS Caledonian Princess - built for Caledonian Steam Packet Company in 1961 as a car ferry for the Stranraer-Larne link.

It was the first time cars could use that route.

By 1968 she had been absorbed into the British Rail Sealink fleet.

She was retired from service in 1981.

There was only one set of doors for vehicles at the stern, so there was a turntable on board to turn the trucks around so they could face forward to disembark.

That turntable was later converted into the infamous revolving dance floor.

Tuxedo Junction

Michael Quadrini already ran the popular nightclub Tuxedo Junction - and Newcastle party goers will remember it for the telephones on the tables which allowed you to chat people up across the room.

He was looking for a bigger venue and thought up the idea of buying an old boat and mooring it on the Tyne.

Caledonian Princess c/o Nigel Thornton Collection

Caledonian Princess - a life on the seas

Originally it was supposed to be on the Newcastle side, but he failed to get planning consent so he went to the opposite river bank instead.

The floating night club opened in December 1984 and there was a strict dress code. Staff wore naval uniforms.

There have been two boats moored under the Tyne Bridge over the years.

The Princess briefly went up to Glasgow and was replaced by another former ferry, the Tuxedo Royale.

This ship was launched in 1965 at Swan Hunter on the Tyne as SS Dover.

Royal exchange

Her return to the Tyne was dogged by problems - whilst under tow she broke loose in an Atlantic storm and was missing for a while.

When she went into dock for repairs two lifeboats were pinched.

When she finally made it to the North East she was fog bound off the Tyne and it cost £5,000 a day while she waited to enter the river.

Tim Healy

Tim Healy - marriage proposal.

The Princess later returned and the Royale went to Middlesbrough.

Celebrities who've been on board down the years include Andrew Lloyd Webber, Kevin Costner, Mick Hucknall, Daley Thompson, Ian Botham, and Jason Donovan.

Geordie actor Tim Healy proposed to future wife Denise Welch on board.

And the ship has also played host to famous footballers and sports stars including Kevin Keegan and Steve Davis.

It even rocked the night away with the Crown Prince of Denmark!

Stars and bars

Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy worked on board the Tuxedo before becoming famous.

And the boat has also been a star of the small screen.

Cheryl Tweedy c/o Getty Images

Cheryl Tweedy - a Tuxedo connection.

The BBC drama "Our Friends in the North" included a storyline where Tosker - a Tyneside businessman - opens a floating nightclub on the Tyne. It was filmed on board.

The Princess is soon to undergo a £1½m refit and it is hoped she will become a floating nightclub in Northern Ireland.

The area next to her former berth is to be redeveloped into a leisure, restaurant and office complex.

It's the end of an era for one of Tyneside's most famous icons...

last updated: 08/08/2008 at 16:20
created: 22/04/2008

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