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Awards and Loans

The Trust offers financial assistance to individuals or groups to carry through restoration or improvement projects to completion. The Trust also invites enquiries about sponsoring one or more Awards.

Dan Cross - The Daniel Adamson



was built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead in 1903, and named the Ralph Brocklebank. She was ordered by the Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Company to tow long strings of barges to Liverpool. She also carried passengers between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool.  After the First World War, canal traffic continued to decline; the Shropshire Union stopped canal carrying in 1921 and started selling off its fleet. The Manchester Ship Canal had opened in 1894, sponsored by a group of Manchester mill owners and businessmen led by an engineer and boilermaker from County Durham called Daniel Adamson.

The Ralph Brocklebank was one of six tugs acquired from the SURCC for operation on the MSC. As well as her towing duties, she started to carry passengers again between Manchester and the canal entrance at Eastham and was also used to take visiting VIPs around Manchester’s inland docks and along the ship canal. In 1936, the Ralph Brocklebank was chosen as the official Directors’ launch; she was given a radical refit and her name was changed to that of the ship canal’s founding father and first chairman, Daniel Adamson.

The renovated Daniel Adamson boasted the clean bold lines, geometric patterns and block colours of the modern Art Deco style. The interior of the tug was now a miniature version of one of the newer generation of Atlantic liners, such as the SS Normandie or Liverpool’s own RMS Queen Mary.  Daniel Adamson sailed on in the dual role of tug and passenger vessel through the post-war years but by the 1960s her towing duties became less frequent.


DC1Though still in demand for hospitality, she was now seen as a valued tradition rather than an integral part of the working life of the ship canal. The Daniel Adamson’s decline also mirrored the ship canal’s demise: the new generation of bigger ocean-going cargo ships could not reach Manchester Docks. Once containerisation took hold, Manchester Docks could not compete and closed in 1982.  In late 1984, the MSCC decided to withdraw her from service. On 5th March 1986, she was towed to Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, the very place she had started her working life 83 years before. Life at the museum began well. The Daniel Adamson’s unique combination of steam engine and stylish Art Deco interiors drew admiring visitors, but she soon fell victim to the funding cuts affecting the region’s cultural and heritage sectors. Maintenance became too expensive to carry out, and by the early 1990s, she was starting to show signs of neglect. Over the next decade her condition deteriorated, and she was vandalised and partly set alight.  In early February 2004, this unique century-old maritime survival was earmarked for scrapping. But word of this soon got round the tightly knit maritime community grapevine, and within days the decision was taken to try and save her.  The campaign was spearheaded by Mersey tug skipper Dan Cross, who formed the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society (DAPS) with the help of Tony Hirst, a former director of the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum.



Dan’s employer Svitzer Marine offered to dry dock and survey her to assess whether she was in fact worth saving. The next thing he knew, Dan had bought the Daniel Adamson from MSCC owner Peel Holdings for £1, the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society was formed and the campaign was underway.   There was a determination that she would steam again, and support from many quarters gave DAPS the confidence to throw everything into the campaign. As word spread about the Daniel Adamson’s rescue, more members and volunteers joined up, bringing much needed skills and enthusiasm. Volunteers spent a total of over 90,000 direct hours working to protect the hull from further weather damage and to restore all eleven steam driven engines to full working order all to the most exacting engineering standards including the two main engines delivering over 500hp, giving her a speed of 11 knots.  Customers and suppliers of Svitzer Marine also came forward with favours such as free surveys, rust repairs, paint and pilotage.  United Utilities granted the use of some redundant buildings to use as workshops at Sandon half-tide basin, where the repair works to the hull and boiler could be carried. Grants started to be raised from various trusts and funds, including Halton Borough Council, the Manifold Trust, the P H Holt Charitable Trust, the Pilgrim Trust and the PRISM fund. But more – much more – was needed; in February 2015, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £3.8 million.

From a vandalised wreck days away from the breaker’s yard, the Daniel Adamson takes her place in National Historic Fleet, alongside vessels such as the Cutty Sark, HMS Victory and SS Great Britain.  The Daniel Adamson has been kept afloat quite literally by the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers and the goodwill of scores of companies, and from May 2016, a new generation of enthusiasts has been able to marvel at the her Art Deco interiors and experience the thrill of steam.  She is unique in being the last surviving steam-powered tug to be built on the Mersey. She is believed to be the oldest, operational Mersey-built ship anywhere in the world.  By any measure this is a remarkable achievement, and in every sense worthy of the Award of Transport Trust Preservationist of the Year. 

 dan cross







The National Transport Trust makes loans to groups, associations and individuals at advantageous rates for the restoration of artefacts - whether mobile or part of the infrastructure.  Applications must be supported by a simple business plan which demonstrates the financial viability of the project. A sample business plan is available on request from the Treasurer.


The Trust does occasionaly make Awards for schemes which further the preservation movement. Again if you wish further information please contact the Treasurer.


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