History of the ship
Shieldhall was laid down in October 1954, launched 7th July 1955 and entered service in October of that year. 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 was operated by Glasgow Corporation to transport treated sewage sludge down the river Clyde 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. Thus Shieldhall was built with accommodation for 80 passengers.
In 1976, after 21 years of faithful service on the Clyde, Shieldhall was laid up. Shieldhall was purchased by the Southern Water Authority in 1977 and after minor modifications, she carried sludge from Marchwood, Millbrook and Woolston in Southampton 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 It was when she was suddenly withdrawn from service in July 1985, due to rising fuel prices, that active preservation began.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. Crewed by volunteers, "Shieldhall" is a frequent sight around the Solent running excursions and such like. She has been to Holland for the Dordrecht Steam Festival and she has been an attendee at each of the International Festivals of the Sea at Bristol and Portsmouth.
During the summer months, various excursions are run in the Solent area and during the course of these voyages, passengers are encouraged to visit the Bridge and machinery spaces.