Mersey Ferry painting joins Liverpool collection of work by Salford's artist LS Lowry

Art handlers hang The Royal Iris in The Walker Art Gallery Credit: National Museums Liverpool

LS Lowry may have been best known for his scenes of working class life in Salford, but now art lovers can view a glimpse of life on the River Mersey.

His 1963 painting The Royal Iris has gone on show in Liverpool featuring the iconic Mersey Ferry of the same name.

The vessel, known as 'the fish and chip boat' because it had its own chip shop on board, was arguably the city's most famous ferry.

Paul McCartney taking a nostalgic trip across the River Mersey aboard the Royal Iris in 1979 Credit: PA Images/PA Archive/PA Images

It also had a stage and a dance floor and is well remembered from Liverpool’s Merseybeat era.

Bands including The Beatles, The Searchers and Gerry and the Pacemakers played on board.

Sir Paul McCartney referenced the performances in his 2007 song, That Was Me.

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The Royal Iris Credit: ©The Estate of L.S. Lowry. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022

The muted colours of the painting are distinctive of Lowry’s style but Ann Bukantas from The Walker Art Gallery says it represents a very different side of Lowry's work.

"Instead of an industrial landscape, it shows a very calm river Mersey, and rather than his well-known ‘matchstick men’, we see a small number of boats with the ferry at the centre. The ferry itself is full of character.

"The colours and flattened picture plane are, however, very recognisable as Lowry’s style and we know visitors will be fascinated to see it alongside three of his other works, two of which are also rare Liverpool scenes."

The painting, which also shows a faint outline of the iconic Liverpool skyline, is on long-term loan to the gallery.

It joins three other works by LS Lowry on display at the Walker Art Gallery: The Fever Van (1935), The Liver Buildings, Liverpool (1950) and The Waterloo Dock, Liverpool (1962).

The Royal Iris appeared to have been left languising in 2017 Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Archive/PA Images

In 1979, Granada set ITV's Saturday morning children's television series The Mersey Pirate on the boat.

The Royal Iris was sold in 1991 and has since been seen languishing in a poor condition in the River Thames.

The Walker Art Gallery on William Brown Street is currently open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am until 6pm.