Voyage on the Duke of Lancaster



Belfast Lough, Cavehill, Irish Sea




Digitised as part of Unlocking Film Heritage





06min 31sec




British Film Institute, National Museums Northern Ireland, Tourism NI

Rights Holder

Tourism NI

It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


Experience luxury at sea onboard the Duke of Lancaster, as the Heysham steamer embarks on its maiden voyage.

Behold the splendour of the ill-fated funship during it’s heyday with the British Railways fleet. Travel up Belfast Lough and glimpse the sleeping giant on Cavehill, which inspired Gulliver’s Travels. Sail the choppy Irish Sea before returning to the slipways of Belfast Harbour. Retired from service in 1979 it became ‘The Funship’, a floating leisure complex born from a loophole in Sunday trading laws. Thwarted by bureaucracy this venture is locked in a Sisyphean battle with the local council. The campaign to continues, whilst this majestic vessel slowly decays. 



Built in 1956 by Harland & Wolff this was one of the last passenger steam constructed for British Railways. The Duke of Lancaster served the Heysham to Belfast route as a passenger ferry. It was luxurious enough to be frequently used as a European cruise ship. In 1970 the vessel was converted into a car passenger ferry. Beached at Llanerch-y-Mor, as ‘The Funship’ in the 1980s the car decks were transformed again into a flea market and bingo hall. These colour rushes were generated by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, capturing the region at an intriguing time, post-World War Two and pre-Troubles. This material comes from the collection of National Museums Northern Ireland.


Digitised as part of the BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage project.



Please scroll to review and accept our terms and conditions (last updated on ) before viewing the moving images content.

To remember your terms and conditions acceptance, you can register as a site member or allow cookies on your browser.