The Inn at The Quay

At this stage of our journey, Balmoral had been on the market for two years, with nobody interested in purchasing the ship.

In March 1982, the Balmoral managed to attract the interest of a Northern entrepreneur. P. & A. Campbell Limited agreed to sell the Balmoral for the same price they purchased her for, some thirteen years prior; £30,000 (or £106,881 as of June 2020).

Designed to sport a function suite and three bars, the Balmoral was to be moored next to Dundee leisure centre. Her target audience? The young and elderly, with a potential market for holding exhibitions, conferences, and wedding receptions.

Brian McLeod, a Dundee born Captain, was on a deadline. He needed to resolve all leasehold agreements for the harbour by February 26th and find a solution to dredging a berth for the 203-foot vessel or risk losing the opportunity to purchase the Balmoral.

In order to resolve the situation, he called on Lord Provost James Gowans that January to forge a path forwards.

Thankfully, resolutions were found, and Brian formed a company called Craig Inns. He headed south to meet the vessel, along with his parents, and together they sailed North with Brian at the helm.

Arriving in March, work began to refurbish the pleasure steamer, including planning a date for the official opening. Craig Inns took on a combination of part-time and full-time staff, totaling 25 staff overall. Finally, some steel skids were fitted to ensure the ship stayed attached to the dock wall while being able to rise and fall with the tide.

However, further difficulties ensued, when Dundee District Council declined to issue a Premises License to sell alcohol. Instead, a list of safety additions would first need to be addressed. These ranged from a safe means of emergency escape, right through to fire alarm systems and emergency lighting.

Inevitably, the planned launch party for July 15th was reluctantly postponed.

On launch night, the Inn at the Quay became Dundee’s first floating pub. Indeed, some well-weathered customers decided to climb the bast, and obtain the Stella Artois flag flying high.

On the funnel, a small ‘key’ was installed, as a play on words. Further, at the weekends, there was a DJ, attracting a younger crowd.

By August 1982, the Balmoral could be seen boarded up, and sadly, in November, the closure of The Inn at The Quay was announced, just months after it was initially launched.

In perpetuity, the Balmoral was the largest vessel to ever berth at Craig Harbour, but Captain Brian McLeod never commented on the reason for the venture’s closure.

Further Information:
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