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Salford crew needed for historic £4m Daniel Adamson ship

A stunningly restored 113-year-old ship needs a volunteer crew: and if you’ve got the sea legs, it could be you.

With two Art Deco saloons and a raised observation deck, the SS Daniel Adamson has been described as a 1930s transatlantic liner, but in miniature.

It was destined for the scrapyard in 2004 before being saved by local campaigners and completely restored with the help of a £3.8 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

SS Daniel Adamson on the Manchester Ship Canal in 1981

SS Daniel Adamson on the Manchester Ship Canal in 1981

By July 2016 passengers will be able to take pleasure trips on the Daniel Adamson on the Manchester Ship Canal between Salford Quays and Liverpool’s Albert Dock.

Its restorers are hoping people will flock to the heritage attraction in the same way that the steam-driven East Lancashire Railway in Bury has re-invigorated railway history.

150 volunteers have spent 100,000 hours bringing the interior up to scratch and making the vessel ship-shape.

Saloons and promenade Deck added in 1936 - Daniel Adamson Preservation Society

Saloons and promenade deck added in 1936 – Daniel Adamson Preservation Society

But for the official boat launch in May, the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society needs crew members to help get the craft up and running.

“Anyone aged 16-80 can volunteer,” says co-ordinator Claire Rider.

“What we have found is that there are an awful lot of more mature people with fantastic skillsets who can contribute to this project.

“Because we’re going to be firing up a 113-year-old steam engine we’re going to need technical people as well.”

The ship needs deckhands to welcome visitors, as well staff to man the engine-room and shovel coal into the steam furnace.

Professional officers and sailors are welcome to apply.

“Because the steam engine takes eight hours to get up to pressure, crews will start in Salford and then stay overnight in Liverpool before return journeys the next day, so it’s going to be a really romantic adventure for anyone who wants to get involved,” said Claire.

SS Daniel Adamson undergoing  restoration - Pete Summerfield

SS Daniel Adamson undergoing restoration – Pete Summerfield

The ship is named for Mancunian entrepreneur and foundry manager Daniel Adamson.

He was a strong believer in building the Manchester Ship Canal project in the 1880s but never lived to see it completed.

He has a street named after him in the industrial area between Salford Quays and Weaste.

The Daniel Adamson started life as the Ralph Brocklebank in 1903, ferrying men, women, children and animals between Liverpool and Ellesmere Port.

The Ralph Brocklebank laden with passengers

The Ralph Brocklebank laden with passengers – Daniel Adamson Preservation Society

It was renamed for its 1936 upgrade when the saloons and a promenade observation deck were added on.

VIP guests to have travelled on the Daniel Adamson include the Danish Royal family and American president General Dwight D Eisenhower.

To give you an idea of how historic this craft is, simply look back at the early days of passenger travel.

It’s 1903, so what options have you got?

If this vessel were a car or a plane from the same period, you’d be volunteering to work on a Model A Ford – a version that came out five years before the famous Model T; or the wooden Wright Flyer – the first aeroplane to achieve flight!

It’s not intended as a nakedly commerical venture: the SS Daniel Adamson is run by a Trust, rather than a private firm, and is intended to preserve waterway heritage and introduce a new generation to the birth of steam.

Anyone who wants to get involved or to find out more about the project can sign up at the volunteer event held at The Dockyard Pub on Salford Quays on Wednesday 20 April, 11.20am-2.30 pm and 5pm-8pm.

Main image: The SS Daniel Adamson at Pier Head in 1947 – Daniel Adamson Preservation Trust

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Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.