The first major diesel excursion ship at Scarborough was the Royal Lady of 1934. She was built by John Crown & Sons at Sunderland, for Thomas Round & Sons of Scarborough. Royal Lady was the first large "off-shore" diesel excursion ship to enter service in the UK. She was propelled by two 125hp Crossley engines, which gave her a speed of 9.5 knots. These engines required far less space than previous steam installations, allowing a far greater area to be devoted to passenger accommodation. Royal Lady was fitted out in a far more luxurious manner than such ships had been previously. Her forward funnel was a dummy. Her first season was very successful, although the faster Coronia arrived in 1935. In September 1937 Royal Lady was sold for a good price for service between Malta and Gozo with Captain Orazio Mizzi, to be replaced at Scarborough by the larger and faster New Royal Lady. In 1938 she was transferred to the Gozo Mail Service, remaining on a route between Mgarr (Gozo) and Marfa (Malta). She was sunk on 7th May 1942 by Luftwaffe bombs, whilst alongside the quay at Mgarr, still carrying the name Royal Lady.
In 1935, a formidable competitor to Royal Lady arrived in the form of the Coronia , built by Warren's New Holland Shipyard on the Humber Estuary. Although of similar layout to the 1934Royal Lady, she only had one funnel, which was positioned too far aft for symmetry. Coronia was owned by Jack Ellis, and her original livery was a yacht-like white, later with a pale yellow funnel. She had a gross tonnage of 227 and an overall length of 130 ft, and carried 475 passengers on a Class 3 Certificate. Her engines were supplied by the National Gas & Oil Company of Ashton-under-Lyme, a company not normally associated with marine installations. The engines are now in the Science Museum in London. She was capable of 13.5 knots, a lot faster than her initial competitor Royal Lady. In 1937, Coronia reappeared with two funnels like her competitor. These were initially pale (yellow?) in colour, but later became red with a black top. In 1938 she had a more equal competitor in the New Royal Lady, which matched her is size and speed. However, in pre-war years there was more than enough custom for two such fine vessels. New Royal Lady was delivered in 1938 to replace the Royal Lady. She came from the same builders, Thomas Crown & Sons, Sunderland, but was larger and faster. Thomas Round died during her construction, and she was delivered to his son, John C.Round. Like her predecessor Royal Lady, her forward funnel was a dummy. New Royal Lady was used for morning, afternoon and evening trips from Scarborough, and her higher speed of 14 knots also allowed occasional longer cruises to Bridlington and Whitby. Her funnels were yellow, with rather gaudy red, white and blue bands. New Royal Lady only had two seasons at Scarborough before the war, and was sold to new owners afterwards, becoming theCrested Eagle of the General Steam Navigation Co before use in Malta.
During the war Coronia served as HMS Coronia, in the Humber, Scotland and on the South Coast, latterly as part of Force Pluto which laid and maintained the cross-channel oil pipelines. She was refitted in 1945, returning to Scarborough in July of that year. The dummy funnel had been removed during the war. Coronia's colours were now modelled on the Union-Castle Line, with a lavender hull and retaining the red and black funnel (although I do not have a card in this condition). The funnel later became a paler colour (yellow?). Her first post-war competition did not arrive until 1951, when the Yorkshire Lady arrived, the latest acquisition of John Round. The same year saw the death of Jack Ellis, and the sale of Coronia to Jack Johnson, who owned her with his son Martin until 1966. She was given an attractive new colour scheme with a pale blue funnel and black top, separated by a broad white band. The hull was white with red boot topping. Further competition arrived in 1952, in the form of the Regency Belle, which had run at Brighton in 1951. In 1954 theRegal Lady had joined the Round's fleet at Scarborough, the port having four excursion ships for this season only. Regency Belle moved to Torquay for the 1955 season, leaving three ships Coronia, Yorkshire Lady and Regal Lady. Coronia was placed on the sales list in 1966, and was sold toCroson Ltd of Bournemouth. She left Scarborough in May 1968, becoming the Bournemouth Queen.
J.W.Johnston replaced Coronia with the Yorkshire Lady, renamed Coronia . He also chartered theRegal Lady for the 1968 season. Regal Lady was returned to her owners Scarborough Cruises at the end of the season and placed on the sales list. She ran with them for two more seasons before being sold in 1970, leaving Coronia to continue alone at Scarborough. She ran successfully through the 1970s, but was sold to Don Robinson in in time for the 1980 season. In 1985 she was sold to Don Robinson's manager Tommy Hanson, but not for use in Scarborough. Instead, she headed south to Gibraltar where she ran for six years, on short cruises around the rock and to see the dolphins. There was no excursion vessel in Scarborough in 1985 and 1986, but for 1987 the Regal Lady returned under the ownership of North Sea Leisure. They bought the Coronia in 1991 and brought her back from Gibraltar to join her previous fleet mate. The Coronia) and Regal Lady have remained in service since.
In late 2010 the Coronia’s future in Scarborough was under threat because of unpaid repair bills. Scarborough and Whitby MP, Robert Goodwill, rescued the ship for Scarborough by purchasing it and leasing it back to operator, Tom Machin. She now carries out her historic duties alongside sister ship, Regal Lady and takes thousands of tourists on trips North or South along the coast.