£2.5m restored ferry attraction set for 2024 launch

A £2.5m project to transform the former Mersey Ferry MV Royal Daffodil into a major tourist attraction is set for completion in 2024. Tony McDonough reports

MV Royal Daffodil
A restoration of MV Royal Daffodil is almost complete. Picture by Jay Chow


Former Mersey Ferry MV Royal Daffodil is set to become a top tourist attraction in 2024 with its restoration close to completion.

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 in Liverpool’s Canning Dock, next to Royal Albert Dock.

Daffodil is set to become a valuable addition to the Liverpool waterfront which attracts tens of millions of visitors every year. It will offer top class food, drink and entertainment and will create almost 100 jobs.

Plans for the vessel include 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 a location in Liverpool to undergo an extensive restoration.

Experts from Liverpool maritime and engineering sector firms have been working on the transformation, despite the disruption caused by the COVID pandemic.


Philip Oliver
Philip Oliver, one of two entrepreneurs behind the Daffodil venture
Joshua Boyd
Joshua Boyd says they are aiming to have the attraction open in 2024


Early in 2024 the vessel will be towed to the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead where it will get a full repaint with other minor works being carried out. From there, restored to its former glory, it will be towed to its final destination in Canning Dock.

Philip 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. This 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.

And 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; while 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 is now worth almost £5bn a year and people are flocking here from across the world. They expect world class attractions and that is exactly what Daffodil will be.


MV Royal Daffodil
MV Royal Daffodil will be given a new lease of life as a tourist attraction in Liverpool. Picture from Nineteen Agency


Royal Daffodil
Daffodil had been left Duke Street Docks in Birkenhead until its rescue. Picture by Tony McDonough


“Liverpool city region’s Visitor Economy grew to £5.18bn value in 2022 with 55.84m 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.”

READ MORE: New Mersey Ferry to cost £26m, says Mayor

READ MORE: Stena to bring back Mersey to Dublin route

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.

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