Daffodil Ferry attraction to open this year following £2.5m transformation
2 months ago
A £2.5m project to transform the former Mersey Ferry, MV Royal Daffodil into a major destination is set for completion in 2024.
Liverpool City Region entrepreneurs Philip Olivier and Joshua Boyd have spent several years working on the venture. Reborn as Daffodil, the iconic vessel will find a permanent home on Liverpool’s Waterfront with planning granted for a berth at Canning Dock, next to Royal Albert Dock.
Daffodil is set to become a valuable addition to the city, which attracts tens of millions of visitors every year. It will offer first-rate food, drink and entertainment and will create almost 100 local jobs.
It will offer three outside sun decks across two levels – Promenade Deck, Daffodil Garden and Funnel Deck – totalling more than 66 covers. Her Upper Deck features a multifaceted space for a café, cocktail and wine bar with all-day dining for 63 seated covers.
On the Main Deck there will be an 84-cover restaurant and the Lower Deck features the Engine Room event space, with capacity for 240 people. This will host live music and events. The vessel will have space for up to 560 guests at any one time.
For six years until 2019 MV Royal Daffodil lay in Birkenhead’s East Float Dock. Philip and Joshua began their rescue mission in 2019 when they towed her to Bromborough to undergo an extensive rip out, later continuing her full restoration in Liverpool at Garston Dock from 2020.
Experts from Liverpool maritime and engineering sector firms have been working on the transformation, despite the disruption caused by the COVID pandemic.
Early in 2024 the vessel is lined up to be towed to Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, where it will be fully repainted before some final tweaks are carried out. From there, restored to its former glory, it will be towed to its final destination in Liverpool.
Phil said: “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.”
Philip and Joshua are also seeking to secure funding to develop a mini-museum exhibit in the Wheelhouse of the ship, intended to honour the history of the Mersey Ferries, their captains, crew and passengers.
As part of a planned recruitment drive for the venture, the team are set to work with the Department for Work and Pensions and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority via back-to-work training and Skills Bootcamps. The wide range of available roles across management, catering and service are now published on the company’s website.
Daffodil will partner with La Salle Hotel School, a not-for-profit charity and community interest company based in Croxteth, to develop apprenticeships and traineeships for young people; whilst supporting sustainable food growing and hospitality education.
“We are so excited about this re-launch,” added Joshua. “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 named Overchurch, the vessel served as a cross-river transport and cruising vessel following her maiden voyage in April 1962.
She was re-named Royal Daffodil in 1999 after an extensive refit as a party and dance cruising vessel. After a further decade of active service, she was eventually decommissioned in 2012 due to a breakdown in one of her two engines.
With the full refurbishment nearing completion, it is expected that this vessel will now have a bright and successful future ahead.
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We met Phil four years ago when the project initially got underway: