Southampton steamer SS Shieldhall sails on after appeal

SS Shieldhall at the Port of Southampton SS Shieldhall is based at the Port of Southampton

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One of the largest remaining steamships in the UK is to be kept seaworthy after a fundraising appeal.

The Solent Steam Packet charity, running the SS Shieldhall, raised close to £80,000 in four months to pay for a dry dock inspection.

Rising fuel costs and falling passenger numbers had threatened the future of the Southampton-based vessel.

The charity said the successful appeal is only a "stay of execution" for the 55-year-old ship.

The money to pay for the biennial dry dock inspection was raised mainly through private donations.

Without the inspection, it would not be allowed to sail and risked being scrapped.

Captain Peter Roberts said: "Without such generosity, there's no doubt that we would have had to scrap this lovely old steamship and we owe our supporters a great deal."

The charity has criticised the response to maritime heritage.

Managing director Graham Mackenzie, said: "Our biggest disappointment is that the marine industry, by and large, has ignored our appeal for help, with just two smaller companies making donations.

"It appears that philanthropy is not a factor in this sector anymore, which is a sad reflection on our great maritime trading nation."

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