ROYAL IRIS on the River Thames as seen from PS WAVERLY on October 4, 2007. Photo copyright William M. Worden

The ROYAL IRIS, a 1950-built River Mersey ferry, one of Liverpool’s most cherished vessels, is sinking in the River Thames in London. Built by William Denny & Brothers of Dumbarton, Scotland, the ROYAL IRIS sailed on the Mersey for 42 years. In the 1960s, numerous bands associated with the Merseybeat scene performed on the ferry, including The Beatles and Gerry & The Pacemakers. In 1991 she was retired and towed to Cardiff, Wales where she was sold for conversion into a floating nightclub, however the venture was abandoned. Since 2002, the vessel has been laid up on the River Thames awaiting further possibilities. Yesterday, police and lifeguard crews were called after reports that there were people on board the decaying vessel. No one was found on board ROYAL IRIS but the vessel was swamped in mud, with water over her hull.