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Bid to bring QE2 home to the Clyde ends in failure

THE MAN behind a campaign to bring the QE2 back to the Clyde has admitted defeat after it was announced she will become a luxury hotel in the Far East.

SHIPSHAPE: The QE2, which was launched on the Clyde, has been based in Dubai for  many years.  Main picture: PA
SHIPSHAPE: The QE2, which was launched on the Clyde, has been based in Dubai for many years. Main picture: PA

The consortium that owns the ship has revealed plans to lavish many millions of dollars on the 70,000-tonne vessel to restore it to the splendour of its glory days.

The refurbishment will result in the ship being fitted with 500 rooms, a shopping mall stocking the finest UK and European brands and three Michelin-starred restaurants.

The news came as a campaign to bring the QE2 back to the Clyde, where she was built at Clydebank's John Brown's yard more than 40 years ago, appeared to be gathering momentum.

More than 2000 people pledged support on Facebook and a parliamentary motion backing the group had been supported by 22 MSPs by noon yesterday.

Charlie Sherry, 47, whose father worked on the QE2, launched the online campaign this month.

He said: "I am just sad that she is not coming to Clydeside. It would have been great for Scotland. She's not coming and we have to accept that.

"But I rejoice that she has been saved from the scrapyard.

"We are glad there will be investment and she will be able to be seen by future generations. We wish them luck.

"It raises the question of Scottish Enterprise and regeneration agencies and how they literally missed the boat on this.

"Where was the vision for the cultural and industrial heritage of the Clyde? How were the economic benefits missed?"

Gil Paterson, the Clydebank MSP who tabled the motion, said: "I am disappointed the ship will not be returning home in the short-term, though I am pleased this iconic symbol will not be scrapped, but instead renovated into a hotel and put to productive use.

"In the future, if the owners decide to sell it, I would hope that Clydebank would be given first option."

The QE2's move to the Far East is the latest twist in her rich history, which includes nearly 40 years in passenger service and a spell as a troop ship during the Falklands War.

Daniel Chui, managing director of Oceanic Group, which is helping to convert the ship, said the QE2 would become a "beacon of luxury, glamour, quality and tradition", and will be given the prominent waterfront home she deserves.

The ship's final destination is being kept a secret, though Hong Kong and Singapore appear to be in the running.

It was Hong Kong where RMS Queen Elizabeth – renamed Seawise University – came to an end in 1972, sinking in the city's harbour after catching fire.

The retired Cunard vessel, launched by the Queen in 1967, was bought by Dubai World in 2007 and sailed to the emirate state in 2008.

It was to take up a permanent berth on the Palm Jumeirah, acting as a heritage museum displaying artefacts from the ship and from maritime history.

However, the government-owned company's plans fell apart when the emirate was plunged into financial crisis.

In July, plans were announced to keep the vessel in the city-state as a hotel and part of a maritime centre. However, the ship will now move to another Asian city.

New designs include an onboard museum displaying QE2 memorabilia, convention and meeting facilities and a cafe offering meals similar to those served during cruises.

Mr Chui added: "A number of Asian cities have expressed interest in securing this historic attraction. We have firmed up with an international tourist city in the Far East as her first destination.

"Our vision for the Queen Elizabeth 2 is to become a landmark cultural and tourist attraction – a beacon of luxury, glamour, quality and tradition – in the heart of a leading Asian city that shares her rich maritime heritage and is prepared to give this very special ship the prominent waterfront home she deserves."

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