100-year-old steamship, which cost £1, restored to former glory

A skipper from Liverpool who has put his life’s work into restoring a historic steamship has been awarded a Merchant Navy Medal in honour of his achievement.

Captain Dan Cross restored the iconic SS Daniel Adamson, which first set sail in 1903. He bought it for £1 in 2004 to prevent it being scrapped.

In the restoration, Cross has supported young people from all backgrounds and abilities to learn, participate and eventually volunteer as part of the ship’s crew.

“I am deeply honoured to be awarded this wonderful medal,” Captain Dan Cross says. “I played a small part in saving and returning the Daniel Adamson back to operational condition for future generations to enjoy and benefit from. It is often said the ship runs on two things, steam and volunteers and this reflects what a magnificent team effort the project is.”

The vessel, also known as The Danny, previously transported cargo, passengers and historical figures including previous kings of Egypt and Afghanistan. It last carried passengers in 1984, before its condition decayed over 20 years in a museum display. Capt Cross purchased it for £1 two days before it was due to be scrapped in 2004 after it was vandalised.

“The work of the harbour tug is often overlooked,” says Cross. “As a key part of ensuring goods keep flowing in and out of the ports and harbours in the UK it is great that services to harbour towage is recognised and the work we do can be remembered through vessels like the Daniel Adamson which also offers great training and education opportunities.”

The vessel was built to tow long chains of barges with goods from Cheshire and the Staffordshire Potteries to the port of Liverpool. According to The Danny it was constructed at what is now the Birkenhead shipyard in 1903 and initially named Ralph Brocklebank after a director of the London and North Western Railway. It was renamed Daniel Adamson in 1936 after the founding father of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Merchant Navy Medals have been awarded since 2016 for significant contributions to the maritime industry. Each year, seafarers are nominated by their colleagues, friends and family for the medals – the highest medal of honour within the maritime sector.

This year 14 mariners have been awarded Merchant Navy Medals, including master mariner Ann Pletschke from Hampshire.

Pletschke has championed the rights of women and under-privileged individuals in the industry. She has also supported future Commonwealth seafarers, including disadvantaged children, in obtaining a maritime education, even paying the educational fees for the first ever marine engineer officer to hail from Mauritius.

“With this award I would like to spotlight many others who work tirelessly for the same aims and to inspire others to give back – if we each do a little, we can all make the industry a safer, more diverse and better industry for all,” says Pletschke.

Cross isn’t the only one to save a historical figure from scrap. Boatbuilder Leo Sampson Goolden is rebuilding a century-old sailing yacht called Tally Ho, which he purchased in 2017 for £1 to save it from destruction, and is funding the epic project via YouTube videos documenting the restoration.

Designed by Albert Strange in 1909, Tally Ho was built the following year in Shoreham and spent the next two decades in operation, going on to win the Fastnet Race for Lord Stalbridge, Hugh Grosvenor, in 1927.

The Danny‘s interior image (above) courtesy of Mark Fraser, via Danny’s Facebook page.

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