The boat that inspired the Gerry and the Pacemakers film and song Ferry Cross the Mersey is rusting away on a river bank in Woolwich.

The Royal Iris - built in 1950 - was the first non-steam ferry to cross the Mersey.

It could accommodate 2,000 people and became a floating dance floor hosting a four night run by The Beatles as well as carrying the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as part of their Silver Jubilee Celebrations.

However now, despite its glory past, the ship is rotting away by the banks of the Thames, after several failed attempts to refurbish it and repurpose it as a floating nightclub.

Striking photos show that the ferry is listing sideways in the water, its paintwork peeling off its rusty surface - while gulls and pigeons have replaced the revellers.

In the nineties, the Royal Iris was due to become a nightclub after being bought by a group in Cardiff - but the new owners could not get planning permission and were refused a mooring.

Eventually the boat made its way to London in 1998, having missed out on much-needed repair work, and was towed to a birth close to the Thames Barrier where it was eventually transformed into a club.

But, in 2010, it started taking on water and partially sank in the Thames, with part of its hull resting on the river bed.

Blogger and historian Ian Mansfield, who has written extensively about the Iris, said: "Ever since then she's been marooned, a slowly rusting wreck with her past glories a fading memory.

"Getting up close to the ferry today is a very sad affair.

"Listing sideways in the water, it's clear how two decades of neglect have taken their toll.

"Rust is dripping down the front while peeling paintwork reminds us of a lost glamour when celebrities would perform on her decks.

"There have been attempts to try and raise the money to salvage the ferry and return her back to the Mersey, but as the years go on, the costs keep getting ever higher.

"It's now highly unlikely that the Royal Iris will ever see her home again."

Hannah Cunliffe, director of charity National Historic Ships UK, said: "As one of over 1,600 craft on the National Register of Historic Vessels, it would be wonderful to see the Royal Iris conserved and her future safeguarded.

"However, sadly we recognise that due to project scale, funding and condition, this is not always possible to achieve in every case.

"We stand ready, as an organisation, to offer advice and guidance to custodians and harbour authorities on the best solution for any historic vessel which has fallen into disrepair, to ensure that all options have been explored and, in the worst case scenario, a full record is kept."