Rebuilt Medway Queen Due To Begin Journey Home From Bristol To Rochester Under Tow After Completion Of Work On Hull
The arrival in planned in three stages: arrival on the Medway towed by tug “Christine”, berthing at Gillingham Pier and a celebration event for members and guests on 2nd November says Medway Queen Society.
The rebuilt historic Medway Queen paddle steamer will soon begin its 4 to 5 days journey home to Gillingham Pier in Rochester, Kent from Bristol as soon as weather allows the port authorities to give the go ahead for it to be towed into the Bristol Channel.
This follows completion of the rebuilding of the hull of the Dunkirk veteran ship at a dry dock in Bristol organized by GMB supported Medway Queen Preservation Society.
It will be towed by the tug “Christine”, operated by A. J. & A. Pratt of Rainham. Full details of the ‘Tow Home’ can be found at http://www.medwayqueen.co.uk/index.php/visit
It will be towed along the south coast to Gillingham pier in Rochester. It will go round the outside of the Isle of Wight past the Needles and be closest to land at Selsey Bill. Once the tow starts it progress can be followed at www.marinetraffic.com/ais/
The Medway Queen was originally built by Ailsa Shipbuilding Company for the New Medway Steam Packet Company, for the service between the Medway Towns and Southend-on-Sea. She spent the whole of her working life in this area except for occasional excursions and, of course, for her wartime service.
It saw active wartime service between 1939 and 1945 with her finest moment in 1940 when the ship and her crew made seven crossings to the beaches of Dunkirk rescuing 7000 British and French troops. Her bravery and that of her gallant crew lead to the title “Heroine of Dunkirk" being bestowed.
The Medway Queen Preservation Society Committee has been the driving force in the restoration of the Medway Queen. The Society was instrumental on getting the Lottery money and European funding that enabled them to set up workshops to train young people through apprenticeships. Many of these have learned many engineering and other skills and go on to find jobs.
The Medway Queen Preservation Society is based in the Medway area of Kent, but draws support from all around the world. It is a volunteer led society, but employs professionals for the rebuild of the ship. The society's aim is to restore the ship, bring her back to working condition. The rebuild of the ship's hull has been done in David Abel’s dry dock, right next to the SS Great Britain in Bristol.
Brian Burton, GMB activist and chair of GMB supported Medway Queen Preservation Society Committee, said, “We are planning the arrival in three stages: arrival on the Medway in charge of the tug “Christine”, berthing at Gillingham Pier and, finally, a celebration event for members and guests on 2nd November."
Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary, said, “GMB and many others have backed the restoration of the Medway Queen from the very beginning.
It is wonderful to consider that it is now ready to come home to Rochester for the next stage of its total restoration to begin.
The work and enjoyment that the whole project has brought to the area is a tribute to the many volunteers who have driven the project.”
Contact: Brian Burton Medway Queen Preservation Society Committee Chairman on 07714 689933 or Bob Stokes on 07985 595770 or the Medway Queen Preservation Society on 01645 575717.