An investigation is underway after the former Newcastle nightclub boat, Tuxedo Royale, caught fire on the River Tees. Campaigners have spent years trying to save the vessel

An investigation is underway into the cause of a fire which has ripped through the derelict party boat, Tuxedo Royale.

Firefighters were called out to the ship at around 7pm last night (31 May). It is currently moored on the River Tees at Middlesbrough.

Units from Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Thornaby all battled the flames, which were eventually put out many hours later.

Two hand control branches, one ground monitor, and a hydrologic platform were used to tackle the fire.

A social media post of a former Newcastle nightclub ship, Tuxedo Royale on fire

The SS Tuxedo Royale Restoration Project posted pictures of the fire on its Facebook page

No one was injured during the incident.

Tuxedo Royale was listed as an historic vessel of world importance with the Historic Ship Society in 2016.

The boat has been moored in Middlesborough since 2009 after its owners went into administration.

In March 2017, the local council branded the 369-foot vessel an “eyesore” and had announced plans to remove it.

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Meanwhile, The SS Tuxedo Royale Restoration Project has been trying to save the River Tees party boat, which was made famous for its revolving dance floor.

Speaking to the BBC, the director of the project, Lisa Turner, said she was “heartbroken”.

“It’s absolutely devastating. We were just wanting to restore her to the way she was when it was known as the TSS Dover,” she said.

“She wasn’t just a floating nightclub, even though that’s how many people see her. She still had some original features in areas such as the wheelhouse and officers’ quarters,” added Turner.

The fire is believed to have started in the boat’s wheelhouse. Campaigners also think the Tuxedo Royale was a victim of arson.

On its website, the Historic Ship Society wrote that the ship had previously been damaged and vandalised in 2006. Copper, brass and stainless steel have also been stripped from the ship.

“The fire of last night (31 May) is terrible news for a vessel with such an important history and significance,” it wrote.

A large white ship moored underneath the bridge over the River Tyne

Happier days when the Royale Tuxedo was a popular party boat. Credit: Elliott Simpson/Wikimedia Commons

Originally called TSS DOVER, the society said the Tuxedo Royale is the sole surviving British steam turbine car ferry and was the flagship of the British Rail cross channel fleet in the 1960s.

Its first voyage was to Boulogne, and in the 1970’s she went to Aalborg Verft in Denmark before to sail to the Holyhead routes.

On April 16 1986, the ship was returned back to Newcastle where it was refitted and converted into a floating casino, nightclub and restaurant. It is during this time that she was named The Tuxedo Royale.

During its heyday, the vessel moored under the Tyne Bridge, and was popular with celebrities, including Kevin Costner, singers Mick Hucknall, Rick Astley, Nik Kershaw and Jason Donovan, the cast of the 1980s TV show Auf Wiedersehen, and cricketer Ian Botham.