'My dream to raise the Titanic using Funship'

Published date: 22 April 2014 |
Published by: David Humphreys
Read more articles by David Humphreys


A MAN seeking to salvage wreckages of some of the world’s most famous ships wants to use a Flintshire landmark as a dive base.

Douglas Woolley wants to use the TSS Duke of Lancaster ship, currently beached near Mostyn, as a base ship to dive off in projects to recover RMS Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong harbour and the Titanic in the North Atlantic.

Mr Woolley, 77, of Essex, said he wants to make the Flintshire landmark seaworthy again.

But the prospects of those dreams ever getting close to becoming a reality have been questioned by the ship’s co-owner John Rowley – who described the idea as a wind-up.

Highlighting his ambitious plans, Mr Woolley said: “We’re trying to carry out a lift of what’s left of the QE1 [RMS Queen Elizabeth] in Hong Kong and are looking at the Duke of Lancaster as a base ship to do diving off and to be fitted out to do search work.

“When I first saw the vessel, I thought ‘what a wreck’, so we want to make it seaworthy again for this project.”

The iconic ship has been beached at Llanerch-y-mor since 1979.

Built in Belfast in 1956, it operated as a European cruiser until 1969 when it was converted to a car ferry.

Liverpool-based Empirewise bought and beached her on the fishing dock near Mostyn.

It opened to the public in 1980 as the ‘Funship’ and plans to convert the cabins into a hotel fell through when the owners failed to obtain planning consent.

Mr Woolley, who claims to own the UK salvage rights to both the Titanic and Queen Elizabeth wrecks, has worked for more than 50 years to try to get the project off the ground.

“We could use any ship, but the Duke of Lancaster is an opportunity,” he said.

“It’s just lying there so I thought we could have a go. I found the previous stories about the ship in the Leader were fascinating.

“We don’t yet know how much it would cost to move the Funship but it would have to be modified and reconstructed for her to move.”

Co-owner Mr Rowley did not share Mr Woolley’s optimism.

“I have no comment on the idea,” he said. “I would be amazed if Mr Woolley is able to keep a straight face through it all.

“I obviously do not share the same sense of humour as this budding salvage man, but each to their own.”

Mr Woolley, a former railway worker, added: “The Duke of Lancaster was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, the same ones who built the Titanic.

“It’s a fantastic connection and it would be brilliant to strengthen that.”

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  1. Posted by: Truth hurts at 12:29 on 22 April 2014 Report

    Why stop there? The Lusitania, Bismark, Tirpitz and Hood are all waiting to be raised too. And Flight MH370!

  2. Posted by: Nige1912 at 01:14 on 23 April 2014 Report

    What an unbelievable story! The arrogance of Mr Woolley knows no bounds! Not only does he make ridiculous claims to "own" some of the most famous ships in history, he then has the arrogance to call a press conference in which he all but sails away with the Duke of Lancaster, all without once consulting the owners of the vessel or running his plans by them BEFORE he calls in the press!

  3. Posted by: Seadog at 03:19 on 23 April 2014 Report

    This is hilarious do your reporters ever research these persons if you did you would find Mr Woolley is regarded as a joke within the Maritime Industry and not to be taken seriously,I think his ramblings within said article more than reflect that. Many of the above comments are spot on the man is delusional...Now would you like to publish my article on mining for Precious metals on the moon using the old Apollo 5, I will be using solely Welsh ex coal miners for this project?.

  4. Posted by: dol pirate at 04:27 on 23 April 2014 Report

    Mr Woolley is sadly disillusioned if he thinks the Duke is going anywhere.She has a job to do where she sits.To expose Flintshire Council for making false claims which have blighted the Funship for 34 years! Mark my words she will do just that

  5. Posted by: dol pirate at 10:32 on 23 April 2014 Report

    It's about time the reporters got the story right. THE FUNSHIP DID NOT CLOSE BECAUSE IT COULDN'T GET PLANNING PERMISSION!

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