SS Shieldhall – Visiting Southampton

SS Shieldhall is a heritage steam ship, operating from Southampton and a member of the National Historic Fleet. She is recognised as the largest working steam ship of her type in Britain, serving as a tribute to Britain's maritime heritage

Today she offers passengers the opportunity to cruise around Southampton's Solent, the Isle of Wight and further afield, regularly passing more modern cruise ships or visiting events such as Cowes Week and the Bournemouth Air Festival.

Passengers can cruise and dine while witnessing sailings of some of the largest cruise ships in the world. There are live music and lunch events whilst at sea, staged in a Saloon or covered awning-deck. Real ales and ice cream are available too. A commentary is offered on most trips, offering an insight into the history of the Docks, pointing out the ill-fated Titanic Berth 44, and the sights and sounds of Southampton Water.

When not cruising, Shieldhall is an ideal base for 'alongside' events - a popular base to celebrate birthdays and special occasions; company meetings and AGMs. Shieldhall also proves popular with film makers, and is a regular star of the big screen and TV. Probably her most well-known appearance was in 'Angela's Ashes.'
Shieldhall is a charity, run by volunteers, and in 2013 was awarded a grant from the HLF for a project 'Saving Shieldhall - Learning Through Conservation in Action' - aiming to secure the future of Shieldhall for the next 25 years.
Berthed 200m from Ocean Terminal, she is open to casual visitors most days when crew are on board. Donations are welcome to keep this flagship of the National Historic Fleet afloat.

PLEASE NOTE SS Shieldhall only sails on select days.

Disabled Accessibility
While the ship was not designed for disabled passengers in a wheelchair, SS Shieldhall has had many passengers with limited mobility on-board. The gangway between the ship and the boat deck is designed for wheelchair users but once on-board, the passenger would need to get down one fairly steep companionway to the main deck, where they could then stay for the remainder of the trip.
Please note staff of SS Shieldhall strongly recommends that future passengers or their representatives come and check the ship for themselves before booking a trip.

A History of SS Shieldhall

Shieldhall entered service in July 1995, operated by Glasgow Corporation, she was used to transport treated sewage sludge down the river Clyde to be dumped at sea. Continuing a tradition that dated back to the First World War, Sheildhall, like so many of Glasgow’s sludge vessels had done before her, carried organised parties of passengers during the summer months.

In 1976, she was bought by the Southern Water authority and from 1977, she carried sludge from Marchwood, Millbrook and Woolston in Southampton to an area south of the Isle of Wight. She was withdrawn from service in 1985 due to rising fuel prices and in 1988 bought from Southern Water as a result of an initiative by the Southampton City’s Museum Services. Since then she has been run by a preservation society, with all work being carried out by unpaid volunteers.

In April 2013 Shieldhall was awarded a HFL grant of 1.4 million, which will help with essential maintenance and education programmes, commencing later this year.

SS Shieldhall: ship Facts

  • Tonnage 1,792 gt
  • Length 81.6m
  • Beam (width) 13.6m
  • Launched 1955
  • Speed 9kts


Shieldhall offer a range of educational courses including youth training day, seamanship experience day and steamship experience course.

Please click here for more information.