This ship is the Duke of Lancaster. It’s been docked on the banks of an estuary for 37 years.
It started its life as a passenger ferry and cruise liner between 1956 and 1979 when silver service was the norm for passengers who wound their way across the seas from Ireland, Scotland and throughout Europe.
According to a website dedicated to the ship, the first class quarters in the late 1950s and 1960s “were the best around“.
Duke of Lancaster last voyage was in 1978 and it was sold to a Liverpool-based company whose intention was to reopen its doors as a dry docked leisure center attraction.
Duke of Lancaster was beached at Llanerch-y-Mor in Flintshire in 1979 when the intention was to turn it into a floating leisure and retail complex called The Fun Ship.
Flyers were printed and there were grand plans for a hotel conversion and various attractions.
But The Fun Ship’s life was very short and the project never achieved its full potential.
There were frequent long-running legal disputes with the local council which led to the ship’s owners walking away.
Duke of Lancaster was closed in the mid-1980s and since then it has been slowly falling apart on the Welsh coastline.
The ship’s owner, John Rowley, has spent the last 30 years trying to get a project off the ground to restore the ship but has claimed that legal battles have always frustrated his plans.
In 2012, Mr. Rowley, who now lives in Romania, allowed several street artists to leave their stamp on the ship.
But, while the ship has been often photographed over the last 30 years, few people have been inside.
But a group of arcade machine enthusiasts gained access and what they found inside was remarkable.
One of the plans for The Fun Ship was an amusements arcade covering an entire deck. So when it closed over 50 arcade machines “from the golden era” were sealed shut inside the ship.
The plan is to transform the ship into the largest open air art gallery in the UK. As of August 2012, the Latvian graffiti artist “Kiwi” was commissioned to spray paint a design on the ship.
Duke of Lancaster is slowly being covered with graffiti described as “bright and surreal“.
The first phase of the project saw Kiwi and other European graffiti artists paint murals on the ship between August and November 2012, and the second phase (starting at the end of March 2013) included the work of British-based artists such as Snub23, Spacehop, Dan Kitchener and Dale Grimshaw.
One of the artworks is a picture of the ship’s first captain, John ‘Jack’ Irwin.
*This article was originally published at www.walesonline.co.uk