MILESTONE IN PADDLE STEAMER RESTORATION

Pix: Richard Abels / Medway Queen Preservation Society


Crowds gathered for the re-dedication of the Medway Queen paddle steamer – once a familiar sight on the Thames.

The ceremony marked the completion of the new hull at the Albion Dock in Bristol.

Over the last four years the yard has rebuilt Medway Queen as the first fully riveted steel hull to be constructed in the UK for over 50 years and this phase of the restoration is now drawing to a close.

Once the vessel returns to Kent the task of completion with the original fittings will start.

At the ceremony a gathering of vessels of the Steam Boat Association outside the dry dock then gave a whistle salute while the dockyard band performed  from the fore deck of Medway Queen herself, both before and after the ceremony.

The event proved a popular one. Besides preservation society members enthusiasts from all over the UK and many Bristol residents came to the yard to see the ship pass this milestone in her restoration.

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Medway Queen’s story includes seaside excursions, wartime minesweeping and the Dunkirk Evacuation as well as a rather different role as a nightclub on the Isle of Wight in the 1960s.

The ceremony marked the end of a major phase of the ship’s restoration and the beginning of the refit to working order. The Medway Queen Preservation Society says the timescale in which this refit can be achieved is entirely dependent on the success of the its fund raising and to that end grants, sponsorship and individual donations are all being sought.

The next priority areas are the upper aft saloon as a dining space and the engine room as a visitor attraction and the central part of any working vessel. A new boiler will be required for which the society does not yet have funding.

The ship will not be leaving the dry dock immediately. There is more work to be done in preparation for the tow back to the Medway and then the tug has to be available and the weather outlook acceptable. When these conditions are all met the ship will be moved without further ceremony.

Predicting exactly when this will happen is not possible but the details will be posted on the Medway Queen website as they become clear.  It is intended that the ship’s arrival in Gillingham will also be marked in a suitable way.

Th website also outlines opportunities to help with donations and fund-raising including the book - deratils on right of page.

The fitting out phase will then commence in earnest. Further events celebrating the tow home include a Music Festival on 7th September and the society’s Gillingham Pier workshops will be open to society members and to the public on all four days of the Heritage Open Days weekend of 12-15 September.

Link to the Medway Queen website

Story dated July 31st 2013

 

 
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