THE future of a one-time floating nightclub has been thrown into doubt after it started to sink.
The former Tuxedo Royale floating nightclub, which was frequented by thousands of partygoers when it was moored on the banks of the Tyne in Gateshead, has started sinking at its current home in Teesside after being hit by a number of vandal attacks.
The ship, which is berthed at Middlesbrough Dock near the Riverside Stadium, has been left out in the cold since it stopped operating as a venue five years ago, leaving it as a target of vandals and metal thieves, resulting in it now badly listing.
Its future now hangs in the balance as discussions take place over what should be done with the redundant vessel.
The iconic nightclub helped pave the way for Newcastle to earn its name as a party city as it played host to thousands of revellers who spent their evenings onboard during its reign from 1988 to 1999.
Throughout its 11 years docked on the Tyne, the famous venue attracted scores of visitors before it was replaced by its larger sister ship, the Tuxedo Princess in 1999, after which the Royale underwent a £2m refurbishment and opened as the UK’s first floating casino in Middlesbrough.
When the casino eventually closed down in 2006, ship dismantling company Able UK offered temporary storage for the vessel while its uncertain future was considered by owners Absolute Leisure.
But three years later Absolute Leisure, best known for its collection of Tyneside bars and clubs including The Lounge and Cocomo’s, went into administration, and the since then the ageing vessel has remained at one of Able’s docks in Middlesbrough.
Able is currently in discussions with the port authority and the appropriate regulators in an effort to deal with the immediate issue of the sinking and also to address the fate of the ship.
Neil Etherington, group development director of Able UK, said: “The saga of the Tuxedo Royale has been ongoing for over five years and we find ourselves in the position of having the vessel moored at our berth with outstanding payments of nearly £200,000 owed to us and the vessel’s owners in administration.”
He added: “We are as anxious as anyone to find a solution to the fate of the vessel. It is taking up a quay space for which we could find a much better use and the unpaid bills for its storage continue to rise.
“The vessel has been vandalised and this has led to its current state. We are now in discussions with both the port authority and the appropriate regulators in an effort to both deal with the immediate concerns over the vessel and to find a solution to an issue which, of course, is none of our making.”
We are as anxious as anyone to find a solution to the fate of the vessel. It is taking up a quay space