North East Wales

Duke of Lancaster ship sprayed with urban artworks

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Media captionThe Duke Of Lancaster is being transformed by street artists from across Europe

A collective of urban street artists is turning a beached former passenger ferry into an open-air artwork visible from Wales' coastal path.

The Duke of Lancaster has become a landmark since it was grounded in the Dee estuary, Flintshire, in 1979.

Graffiti artists from across Europe have begun spray-painting images on the former Sealink steamer's hull.

The ship has stood empty since the 1980s when it hosted a bar and market stalls.

The street artist collective, called DuDug, a wordplay on the Welsh for black duke, say they want to transform the outside of the vessel into an open-air gallery for graphic art.

It would make the Duke of Lancaster into a colourful addition to people starting out or finishing the coastal path.

Urban artists from Russia, Latvia and Hungary as well as others from the UK have put eight images on the sides and rear of the hull so far.

Some are up to 60ft (18m) high and 45ft (14m) wide.

A spokesperson for the artists said: "You can see them from the coastal path - we aim cover the ship with them.

"Photographers have contacted us to say they are delighted with the angles they can get."

The ship was put in dry dock in 1979 and renamed the Fun Ship as an entertainment venue with a bar and market stalls, before being closed.

It has remained locked up at a private dock a short walk off the A548 Flint-Prestatyn coast road since the mid 1980s.

The owners have been locked in a series of planning disputes with Flintshire council.

Earlier this year the Duke of Lancaster Appreciation Society called for the ship to be restored and preserved, ideally as a hotel.

Image caption Some of the artwork is in the style of UK-based urban artist Banksy

The ship's owners have since given their blessing to the pop art collective's project, providing access to the vessel for spray painting of artwork that often takes days to complete.

DuDug said it has written to Flintshire council saying it wanted to create an open-air gallery.

The spokesman said: "We do not want to renovate the ship. We are only interested in the outside of the ship.

"The art is not making the vessel any worse."

Flintshire council said any proposals for the Duke of Lancaster would be a matter for the owners.

A spokesperson said: "If a planning application is submitted it would be considered in the usual way."

The ship lies within sight of the Wales Coast Path which runs 870 miles (1,400km) from the river Dee to Chepstow, Monmouthshire.

It is the first coastal path in the world to cover an entire country and its features include a range of landscapes, wildlife hotspots and man-made landmarks including castles, lighthouses and bridges.

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