In 1986, Calshot was bought by Southampton City Council to be displayed afloat outside the planned Maritime Museum in Ocean Village as a tribute to the people of Southampton, who built and crewed the tug-tender. Calshot is unique! She is one of only three tug-tenders preserved for posterity.
Essential maintenance work was carried out below the waterline. Her hull was shot blasted and repainted. She was returned to the black and cream Red Funnel colours.
Unfortunately, the proposed Maritime Museum project could not be built in Ocean Village because Southampton City Council could not raise sufficient finance.
In 1990 Cunard celebrated their 150th anniversary, marking the commencement of regular travel across the Atlantic (1840-1990). Calshot had been actively involved with both RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth in peace and war. It was therefore appropriate that she was involved in the celebrations.
29th July 1991. Alistair Whyte, Managing Director of Red Funnel Group, opened Calshot to the public at her permanent berth on Town Quay. He was the guest of the Mayor of Southampton and Admiral of the Port, Councillor Brian Welch. Among the guests, were more than 30 former employees of Red Funnel who had worked on Calshot.
For many years Calshot was moored alongside Southampton City Council Wharf. The Council endeavoured to maintain the vessel with the aid of companies and volunteers. This initiative did not produce the required results and the vessel was eventually left to its fate. Southampton City Council abandoned their efforts to restore Calshot. They decided to dispose of the vessel , even if it meant sending her to the breakers yard. Terry Yarwood and Jim Delderfield became involved in 1996, when they inspected the vessel and it became apparent that the Council had no intention of restoring the vessel to its former glory. “We have no money” was the reaction from Councillors and Council officials when challenged about the future of the vessel. The Tug Tender Calshot Trust was formed in 1996 to restore the vessel.