Steamship Shieldhall releases details of 2023 sailing programme

Steamship Shieldhall releases details of 2023 sailing programme

The volunteers at Steamship Shieldhall in Southampton have released details of the ship’s 2023 sailing programme. Commencing on Friday 16 June, with a final sailing on Sunday 17 September, there are a variety of 2hr, 3hr, 3 1/2hr, 4hr and all day sailings to choose from, including some returning favourite cruises and some all-new trips. 

Shieldhall’s famous steam whistle and siren.

Shieldhall is a heritage cargo-passenger ship, included in the National Historic Fleet. The ship was built and launched on the Clyde in 1955, to a classic pre-WW2 design. It had a long and successful first career with Glasgow Corporation, carrying treated sludge out to sea and, in the summer, taking passengers on pleasure trips. The ship was bought in 1977 by Southern Water and  was withdrawn from commercial service in 1985. It was saved and purchased for £20,000 in 1988 by the charity that still owns the ship today.

Steamship Shieldhall is listed as part of the National Historic Fleet. Fundamental to its significance is that it is fully operational, each year providing thousands of people with the opportunity to experience steam-powered sea travel. Shieldhall is one of the very few active vessels worldwide that can demonstrate the steam technology that eclipsed sailing ships in maritime trade. 

For 2023, Shieldhall’s number of sailings is comparable with last year, though with a  reduced number of sailing weekends, to help save with ‘steam-up’ costs. During 2022 Shieldhall’s fuel costs increased by more than 100%, whilst there have been other increases to operating costs and the general cost of living. Mindful of this, new for the programme in 2023 are three Friday evening sailings.

Some highlights from Shieldhall’s 2023 sailing programme include: new for 2023, Shieldhall will set sail on each of Friday’s 16 June, 28 July and 11 August, ahead of further trips on the Saturday and Sunday. It’s the perfect way to start a weekend, with a relaxing trip down Southampton Water to the Solent. Also new for 2023 is a Jurassic Coast sailing from Poole Quay on Tuesday 29 August, an opportunity to view a World Heritage Site at close quarters. Shieldhall will also pass very close to Cowes on her Saturday 12 August trip – promising it will be the closest Shieldhall has ever sailed to the north shore of the Isle of Wight.

Following a sell-out trip to Portsmouth Harbour in 2022 (where Shieldhall saw both aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales in port) the 2023 programme will see two trips into Portsmouth Harbour staged – on Shieldhall’s opening weekend, Saturday 17 June and again on Sunday 13 August. In addition to the naval ships, the trips give an exciting opportunity to view the dramatic skyline of Portsmouth, including Southsea; Clarence Pier; Spice Island and the Spinnaker Tower, from the water.

One of the beauties of steam propulsion is that Shieldhall does not tend to vibrate or roll, and as such makes a great viewing platform, perfect for photography.  For 2023, Shieldhall will steam to the Solent to watch the spectacle of the Round the Island Race on Sat 1 July; the Fastnet Race on Sat 22 July and the racing at Cowes Week on Sat 29 July. Then, on Fri 1, Sat 2 and Sun 3 September Shieldhall will be in the very best position to see the impressive sights of the Bournemouth Air Festival. And of course photographers will also want to capture the magnificent motion of Shieldhall’s triple expansion steam engines down below – it’s access all areas on Shieldhall.

Shieldhall’s music cruises remain very popular, with the Selsey Shantymen welcomed back for a performance on Sunday 25 June, and Southampton’s own ‘Salty Sea Dogs’ on Sunday 27 August. Perennial favourites RU40 are back on board performing the greatest hits of UB40 complete with their take on the ‘Shieldhall Song’ (complete with crew interaction!) on Saturday 26 August. And not forgetting Shieldhall’s own in-house jazz band, The Stompers, who will provide entertainment on her positional cruise to Poole on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August.

Shieldhall Chairman John Rose said: ‘We’re delighted to publish our trips for 2023, and, in very difficult economic circumstances, to be able to offer a full summer programme. In addition to our published sailing programme, Shieldhall is available for charters and alongside functions. We are indebted to our members and supporters as we look to keep our piece of British maritime heritage alive and steaming’.

To view Shieldhall’s  complete 2023 sailing programme,  visit:

  • Main image: Will Faulkner.


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Passengers on-board the Shieldhall are encouraged to visit the working parts of the ship