Viking 1 is a recognised Heritage Boat and was first named MV Britannia in 1923. She was built by Harward and Croxan in Southend-on-Sea, England. On the 23rd of March 1923 Britannia arrived in Bridlington to operate as an ‘open deck’ pleasure cruiser. During this time there was a lucrative summer excursion trade in Bridlington Harbour. In the early 1930’s holiday makers arrived in large numbers by railway, coach and motorcar. As a result, Britannia was a popular boat trip and had competition with other passenger vessels at the time: Girls Own (1922), May Morn (1925) and the paddle tug Frenchman (1892).
The Viking Ship’s History
When war was declared in September 1939 almost all pleasure boat activity ceased. Between 1939 and 1945 the location of Britannia is unknown. We know that other passenger vessels in the area were requisitioned for war service. Most likely, if Britannia was involved, she would have been a warship’s tender and carried supplies to passing warships in the North Sea.
Thankfully, Britannia returned to Bridlington Harbour post-war, continued her operation as a pleasure cruiser and received a remodelling in the 1950’s:
“The aging Britannia, now in her thirties needed updating to compete successfully with the other pleasure boats and at some time in the 1950’s she was substantially rebuilt, probably re-engined, and her appearance changed dramatically from that of her pre-war days”
(Bull, 2010 p.47).
In the 1960’s air travel became cheaper and British seaside resorts became less popular. This resulted in a slow decline of passing trade to the English seaside and Britannia eventually ceased working as a passenger boat in the late 1960’s.
However, Britannia stayed in Bridlington as a licensed angling boat until her departure to Ireland in 1979. Britannia became the passenger vessel MV Avonree and later Viking 1, a now semi-enclosed Viking themed passenger vessel. Since 1999, Michael McDonnell has been the skipper and proprietor of Viking 1 and has been scrupulous in his maintenance and restoration of the ship. Currently, the vessel is twin screwed and is powered by two diesel Perkin engines (model no. 4.236) with a top speed of 12 knots (22 km/h). Viking 1 measures 21 metres in length and is made of larch planking on oak ribs and frames.
Information and imagery courtesy of Frank Bull, WB Collection and Bridlington Library.
Further reading: Bull, F., 2010. Bridlington Pleasure Boats. 1st ed. Bridlington, UK: Frank Bull.