The 'Shiel' family (Billy Shiel's father and grandfather) started taking boat trips to the Farne Islands in 1918 - just after the First World War. In those days, after an early morning hauling pots for lobster and crabs, a few keen ornithologists' would ask to be taken over to the Farnes to see the birdlife on the islands.
It was only in the late 1930's that the business as we see it today really got going. Billy Shiel joined his father at the age of 14 years and now Billy Shiel's Farne Island Boat Trips have been operating out of Seahouses for over 60 years. Today, truly a family tradition, the business is led by Billy Shiel Junior, otherwise known as just William. The business which started with a simple open Northumbrian coble has now grown to a fleet of 7 passenger boats each named 'Glad Tidings' and numbered from 1-to-7 and a high speed Rib called Ocean Explorer to offer our visitors a little extra adrenalin.
Over the years we have carried thousands of people over to the Farne Islands from all over the world with many remarking that their trip boat trip with 'Billy Shiel' was the highlight of their holiday. Our Passengers come from all walks of life including many national and international celebrities. Indeed the Farne Islands and 'Billy Shiel's' boats have featured in many television programmes and newspaper articles. Including a cameo role for William with Justin aka Mr Tumble on "Something Special" which thrilled his young son Oliver.
Undoubtedly the Shiel family's proudest moment was in 1958 when one of our boats was asked to rendezvous with the 'Royal Yacht Britannia' and take our then recently-crowned 'Queen Elizabeth II' to the Farne Islands. Here she spent an hour on 'The Brownsman' before Billy and his father returned her safely back to the royal yacht. Yet another proud moment came in 1962 when the Queen Mother, when staying as a guest of the Duke of Northumberland, came down to the picturesque Seahouses harbour on Sunday afternoon after Church, and boarded the 'Glad Tidings' for a trip around the Farne Islands.

Billy Shiel MBE


The name 'Shiel' has long associations with the Sea on this rugged Northumberland coastline.

Pictured on the left is the late Billy Shiel MBE whose grandfather founded Farne Island Boat Trips in 1918 shortly after the 1st World War. On the right is his son William who continues on with the family's traditional seafaring business.

William Shiel

In 1997 'Billy Shiel' was awarded the M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire) for his services to tourism in Northumberland.
Today, although the main business is in boat trips to the Farne Islands, the Shiel family still haul lobster and crab pots in the early morning before taking passengers to the Islands as they did in 1918.