By the end of 2024, a £2.5 million project to turn the MV Royal Daffodil, a former Mersey Ferry, into a popular tourist attraction will be finished.
Philip Olivier and Joshua Boyd, two business owners from the Liverpool City Region, have been working on the project for a number of years. Planning has been approved for the iconic ferry, Daffodil, to permanently reside on Liverpool’s waterfront at a berth at Canning Dock, which is adjacent to Royal Albert Dock.
Daffodil will become a valuable addition to the city, attracting tens of millions of visitors every year. It will generate nearly 100 jobs in the community and provide excellent food, drink, and entertainment.
With a total of more than 66 covers, it will feature three outdoor sun decks spread over two levels: the Promenade Deck, the Daffodil Garden, and the Funnel Deck. Her Upper Deck offers 63 seated guests all-day dining in a multipurpose area that doubles as a wine bar, cocktail bar and café.
An 84-seat restaurant will be located on the Main Deck, while the Engine Room event space, with room for 240 guests, will be located on the Lower Deck. Events and live music will take place here. Up to 560 people can be accommodated on the ship at once.
Until 2019, MV Royal Daffodil was moored at Birkenhead’s East Float Dock for a period of six years. Philip and Joshua started their rescue effort in 2019 by towing her to Bromborough so that she could have a thorough rip-out. In 2020, they carried out the remainder of her full restoration at Garston Dock in Liverpool.
Despite the disruption caused by the COVID pandemic, experts from Liverpool maritime and engineering sector firms have been actively working on the transformation.
The ship is scheduled to be towed to the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead early in 2024, where it will undergo a complete repaint and some last-minute adjustments. After being restored to its former splendour, it will be towed to Liverpool, where it will ultimately end up.
“This isn’t just a business investment for me, my Father and Josh this has been a labour of love. There has been a ferry across the Mersey for more than 800 years and they hold huge, historical significance to the region.
“As a picture-postcard image, the ferries are world famous. The people of Merseyside have an emotional attachment to these vessels and there’s a lot of positivity around the coming future of this icon – we will be so proud to see it brought back to life.”
In addition, Philip and Joshua are looking for funding to create a mini-museum display in the ship’s wheelhouse that will honour the Mersey Ferries’ past and that of its captains, crew, and patrons.
The team will collaborate with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority through back-to-work training and skills bootcamps as part of the venture’s planned recruitment drive. The company’s website currently lists the vast array of management, catering, and service positions that are open.
In order to support sustainable food growing and hospitality education, Daffodil will collaborate with La Salle Hotel School, a non-profit charity and community interest business situated in Croxteth, to create traineeships and apprenticeships for youth.
“We are so excited about this re-launch. Daffodil will be yet another amazing asset to Liverpool’s world class waterfront that’s rooted in strong local pride and impact.
“Liverpool City Region’s Visitor Economy grew to £5.18bn value in 2022 with 55.84 million people flocking here from across the world. They expect world class attractions and that is exactly what Daffodil will be. A unique place for locals, visitors, the business community, foodies, culture and heritage fans.”
Originally called Overchurch, it was used for both cross-river transport and cruise after it made its inaugural trip in April 1962.
After a comprehensive refit in 1999, the ship was renamed Royal Daffodil to serve as a party and dance cruise ship. After serving actively for another decade, the ship was decommissioned in 2012 due to a breakdown in one of its two engines.
As the full refurbishment nears completion, it is expected this vessel to have a bright and successful future ahead.