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Wednesday, August 19, 1998 Published at 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK


New life for Britannia

The Royal Yacht Britannia was built in 1953

The new owners of the former royal yacht Britannia have been giving details of how they intend to turn her into a major tourist attraction.

The yacht is currently undergoing a major refit in dry docks in the Edinburgh port of Leith.

Britannia will open to the public on 19 October 1998, two months later than was planned. She is expected to bring in 200,000 visitors a year and inject £5m into the local economy.

The boat's new management team revealed they have carried out more work than was previously planned, and are predicting that the attraction will create 60 new jobs.

[ image: The company's Britannia logo]
The company's Britannia logo
The port of Leith, in Edinburgh, was chosen as the permanent home for Britannia in April this year.

The yacht is set to become a major visitor attraction as part of the new Ocean Terminal, a £50m centre for cruise liners being built at Leith.

Visitors will be able to see royal bedrooms, but will not be able to enter them as the yacht's new owners said they considered that such open access would be "inappropriate". Corporate clients will be able to eat in style in the State Dining Room.

Original artefacts

The yacht will feature most of its original artefacts from its time as a floating home to the royal family when it saw many glittering royal receptions around the world.

[ image: The Queen and her entourage had the use of 52 cabins]
The Queen and her entourage had the use of 52 cabins
A £1.25m onshore visitor centre designed by Sir Terence Conran will also be built.

Entry to the yacht will be by pre-booked ticket only, with prices expected to be around £6 for adults.

General Manager Bob Downie said such a system was necessary due to the huge interest already being shown in the yacht.

"We feel this is required to make sure everyone who wants to see Britannia can do so and won't be queuing for hours," he said.

The ship can accommodate up to 500 visitors at a time and its owners hope to create full access for disabled people.

The cost of the project had originally been put at about £2m, but is now nearer £2.5m, Mr Downie said. The majority of the money was a gift from Forth Ports plc.

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