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Ship tour

Welcome aboard our Steamship Shieldhall! In this section of our website, we take you on a pictorial tour around “Shieldhall”. Unfortunately, we cannot provide the smell of steam and hot oil, so why not make a date and visit this masterpiece of marine engineering.

Boat Deck

This is where visitors normally come aboard. You will be aware of the teak decks which lead forward to the Bridge. The awning used in inclement weather was installed in 2013.

 On the port (left) side is our Shop where you can purchase a selection of “Shieldhall” souvenirs. Walk up the ladders on either side of the superstructure and you come to the Bridge.


On the Bridge you will be able to see the old and the new side by side. We have retained the traditional nature of the Bridge but have also included modern equipment to comply with today’s regulations. Note the telegraphs to port and starboard, for communication with the Engine Room. If you look forward, out of the Bridge windows, you can see the large expanse of the foredeck. A commentary is given from the bridge wing on all cruises, audible to most parts of the ship and highlighting the history and sights of Southampton Water and the Solent.


From the Bridge, we need to descend two decks, onto the main deck. Shieldhall is a very stable vessel and the foredeck is a very popular viewing and photography area, especially when Shieldhall passes cruise and container ships and racing yachts. As we proceed aft, you will pass Shieldhall’s Galley and Saloon – we can retire here after visiting the Engine room, whose access is further aft. As we enter the Engine room, we look down onto the top of both main engines.

Engine Room

As you enter the engine room you look down on the two triple expansion steam engines. The silver discs on the top of the main engines represent the differing cylinder sizes in each engine. Moving down two flights of stairs we come to the manoeuvring platform where the engineers on watch control the direction and speed of the main engines. Here you can see the exposed engine’s mechanism.

Unusually in a ship’s engine room, there is room to move around each engine and now is the time to start counting all the auxiliary engines. Take care as you move around, there are tripping hazards and some of the pipes are hot. 

Boiler Room

From the Engine room, we move forward into the Boiler room. There is space between the boilers to pass through safely, as both boilers are well insulated. Once in the Boiler room you will notice how hot it is and also, how quiet, with just the roar of the furnaces and the forced draught fan making their presence felt. Check the temperature on the gauge – you may be surprised! Within the Boiler room, you will see three more steam driven auxiliaries. 

We have to leave the Boiler room and Engine room by the same ladders that you came in by and when you get back on open deck, continue aft and have a look in the Tiller Flat.

Steering Gear

Here, you can see the steering engine and unless one of the crew are present, you have to watch this engine from outside as it can start without warning. Watch the engine respond to movements of the ship’s wheel and see if you can work out how the steam is controlled. It is probably time to take some refreshment and what better place than the Saloon. The saloon can seat approximately 70 people and when the ship is alongside, it can be used for meetings, conferences, or special events. 


Not only is there a fully licensed bar selling a wide range of beers, wines and spirits, but our galley staff are able to offer a full range of snacks and meals including local produce and ice cream. On our excursions, a full meal service is normally available. 

Our tour ends on the foc’sle.

Steam Winch

Once again, the teak decking is very noticeable. The steam driven windlass is typical of those that were used during the age of steam and it is used when mooring the ship, or when raising the anchor. Passengers are normally allowed into the “eyes” of the ship and this will give you an unrestricted view ahead.

There are many other spaces on the ship which are not accessible to passengers, but in this tour, we have covered all of the areas open to the public, at sea and in harbour. We look forward to welcoming you aboard.

Like what you see and want to join us for a trip? Click on the link below!