Back to See & Do in Southampton

Steamship Shieldhall

Steamship Shieldhall is the largest working steam ship in Britain. A member of the National Historic Fleet, she serves as a sea going tribute to Britain's maritime heritage. Passengers can experience the golden age of steam by booking on an excursion or visiting her in Southampton. Shieldhall is also available for private charter or for hire as a venue alongside.

Shieldhall was laid down in October 1954, and launched 7th July 1955. Built by Lobnitz & Co. of Renfrew on the River Clyde to a specification determined by the Glasgow Corporation, she was required to carry her cargo as well as passengers (housed in a spacious saloon) in her daily trips doon the watter.

Shieldhall transported treated sewage sludge 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.

In 1976, after 21 years of faithful service, Shieldhall was laid up. She was purchased by the Southern Water Authority in 1977 and after minor modifications, she carried sludge from Marchwood, Millbrook and Woolston 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 It was when she was suddenly withdrawn from service in July 1985, due to rising fuel prices, that active preservation began.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.

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. A speaker system introduced as part of the HLF refit allows for a Southampton Green Badge Guide to give a detailed commentary on the sights and sounds of Southampton Water and The Solent. Shieldhall is a frequent sight around the Solent running summer excursions, and she has represented Southampton for the Dordrecht Steam Festival and International Festivals of the Sea at Bristol and Portsmouth.

During the summer voyages, passengers (up to 200 per sailing) are encouraged to visit the Bridge and machinery spaces. Shieldhalls annual sailing programme is designed to appeal to a number of audiences, with family-friendly 2hr trips of the Docks (Adults 23 and Children 5), 3hr sailings to see cruise ships depart in the Solent, 4hr music cruises with the Shieldhall Stompers Jazz Band, to viewing cruises for the Cowes Fireworks, Fastnet and Round the Island Races and Bournemouth Air Festival (Adults 52, Children 26). Shieldhall attracts a wide audience from steam lovers to those looking for a day out with a difference, families, groups and coach parties.

Steamship Shieldhall

Contact Details


Usual departure berth for sailings: Berth 48, Dock Gate 4, Eastern Docks, Southampton SO14 2QN


0844 357 2329 (calls cost 7p per minute from a landline. Calls from mobiles may vary)


Click here to email


Click here

Opening Hours

2019 sailings from Southampton and Poole:

Sat 25 May Head to the Solent Cruise Titanic Theme, 3pm 6pm

Sun 26 May - Southampton Docks Cruise, 2pm 4pm

BH Mon 27 May - Solent Cruise to The Needles 11.30am 6pm

Sat 15 June 2019: Head to the Solent Cruise and see 4 cruise ships depart 4pm 7pm

Sun 16 June 2019 - Fathers Day Sailing with Shieldhall Stompers Jazz Band, see 3 cruise ships depart 2pm 6pm

Sat 29 June Cruise to see the Round the Island Yacht Race and 5 cruise ships depart, 10am 6pm

Sun 30 June 2019 American Independence Day Cruise with Shieldhall Stompers Jazz Band, 2pm 6pm

Saturday 13 July - Solent Cruise to see 4 cruise ships depart 4pm 7pm

Sunday 14 July - Eastern Solent Cruise and see 4 cruise ships depart 2pm 6pm

Sat 3 August - Trip to view the Fastnet Race & The Needles 9.30am 6pm

Sun 4 August - Solent Cruise to see 5 Cruise ships depart 3pm 6pm

Sat 10 August 2019: Solent Cruise to see 5 Cruise ships depart 3pm 6pm

Sun 11 August 2019: 10am 12noon Southampton Docks Cruise and see the 3 Queens in berth

Sun 11 August 2019: 1pm 3pm - Southampton Docks Cruise and see the 3 Queens in berth

Sun 11 August 2019: 4pm 7pm - Southampton Docks Cruise and see the 3 Queens depart

Friday 16th August Cowes Fireworks Cruise 5.15pm 11.59pm

Saturday 17th August RU40 Music Cruise - 4pm 8pm

Sun 18 August Cruise to the Nab Tower! 10am 6pm

BH Monday 26 August,One way trip to Poole 10am 4pm

Fri 30 August Bournemouth Air Festival 10am 7pm

Sat 31 August Bournemouth Air Festival 10am 7pm

Sun 1 September Bournemouth Air Festival and Merchant Navy Day Service 10am 7pm

Mon 2 September Poole to Southampton 10am 4pm

Saturday 14 September, 2019 - Heritage Open Day Cruise, 4pm 6pm

Sunday 15 September, 2019 Boat Show Cruise, 3pm 6pm

For full details, please visit

Nearby Places

TripAdvisor Reviews

You May Also Like

Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on all things Southampton!

Submitting your information...

Submitting your information...

Thank you! You will receive an email to confirm your subscription.

More to See & Do

Back to top