Medway and Swale Heritage Harbours update

A joint initiative by the Maritime Heritage Trust (MHT) and National Historic Ships (NHS) Shipshape Network, with strong support from European Maritime Heritage (EMH), proposes that historic ports and harbours in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland become officially recognised as ‘Heritage Harbours’. The developing Heritage Harbours recognise the great value in sensitively developing their, often superb, historic buildings; waste land; mooring; and maintenance facilities for both local and visiting historic vessels and are identified within the NHS Shipshape Network regions.

MEDWAY HH1 – The proposal to designate Medway as the first British heritage harbour was presented to a meeting, of the local maritime heritage community and associated stakeholders at the Sun Pier House tea rooms on 10 December 2018. The meeting, at Sun Pier House, Chatham, was well attended by some forty enthusiastic representatives from the local historic vessels; the Medway Council; MHT Trustees; the Thames Sailing Barge community and representatives from Faversham. Medway Council have appointed a senior officer to represent the council on the Medway HH
forum group. We are in discussions with the directors of Sail Training International, with a view to Medway being a Tall Ships race port in 2025. This will be the main agenda item at the next Medway Heritage group meeting. The ‘Boat Shed’ and other historic buildings and wharves, which form part of the historic Sheerness naval dockyard, may lead to Sheerness becoming an integral part of Medway Heritage Harbour.

FAVERSHAM & OARE HH2 – Faversham & Oare Creeks Heritage (FOHHG)
have met regularly since early 2019 at Faversham Guildhall. Aims and objectives have been developed and considerable work in optimising balanced development and improvement of the creeks has already been carried out by group members. An exciting feature is that Kent County Council has continued the design work for the replacement Faversham upper creek bridge through the lockdown.

£5m to cut the masts off the Monty

The Ministry of Defence is offering £5 million to have the masts removed from the wreck of the Richard Montgomery, an American liberty ship that broke her back and sank off Sheerness in August 1944, with 1400 tons (net explosive quantity of TNT) of explosives still on board. Tim Bell from Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club said, “I can see the sense in cutting the masts down because they are starting to collapse and rust and could fall onto the deck below where there are still 2,000 cases of cluster bombs.” More at KentOnline. Also see Tim Bell’s reply to this article. And the BBC website…

CA Kent Section: Talk by Jeremy Batch, Thu 12 March

Jeremy Batch is always good news. Next time you sail past the O2 “Dome” or fly over it on the cable-car, look to the opposite bank and you will see the site of the largest private dock in Europe, the birthplaces of the hydraulic crane and the modern lighthouse, the yards where “bad buoys were made good” and HMS Warrior was launched, and the wharf where Brunel’s first steamship had her engine installed. You will be passing the departure point of fleets [great and small] which set-up the first permanent English-speaking colony in the New World, established the most powerful multinational corporation that has ever existed, and towed the floating harbours that made the D-Day landings possible. Here the Cutty Sark unloaded tea and wool, and here many of her sisters were built. Come and find out more!

We are all invited to these excellent Kent Cruising Association “Winter Warmer” talks, which are held at 8pm at the Dog and Bear, Lenham, near Maidstone. It’s a good idea to book a meal (by 5pm please) on 01622 858219 for 7pm, before the talk. A special CA menu is available.

Royal Naval Sailing Association to be evicted from Chatham

RNSA members at the historic slipway. Photo Kent Online.

Despite the Royal Navy’s proud 400-year association with Chatham, the RNSA has been given its marching orders from its modest base at the Historic Dockyard to make way for yet another housing development. The Sea Cadets and Sea Scouts who share the slipway and shore facilities will also have to go.

Read more of this shocking story at Kent Online…

CA talk: Stephen Howarth on The Shetland Bus, Thurs 9 Jan

Shetland Bus.

Operations were conducted from Lunna House, Shetland by Stephen’s father, Lieutenant Howarth, who ran the Shetland end of the operation. The crews of the “Shetland Bus” [Shetlandsgjengen] were men of the coast, fishermen and sailors with detailed local knowledge. Most came over after the occupation, some with their own vessels, others with vessels that were “stolen” with the owner’s approval. They were young men, most of them in their twenties, some even younger. Many of them did several tours in the spring and summer of 1940, evacuating British soldiers who had been stranded in Norway after the Norwegian Campaign and other British citizens living in Norway.

We are all invited to these excellent Kent Cruising Association winter warmer talks, which are held at 8pm at the Dog and Bear, Lenham, near Maidstone. It’s a good idea to book a meal (by 5pm please) on 01622 858219 for 7pm, before the talk. A special CA menu is available.

Medway Queen Tour and Talk, Sat 28 Sept

Congregate at Gillingham Marina in the Quarterdeck Cafe 3.00pm for 3.15pm walk to the Medway Queen. Limited parking space available on Gillingham Pier for those that need them. Tour of the Medway Queen at 3.30pm, 5.00pm for 5:30pm Heroine of Dunkirk Talk and buffet! Tickets are £7 each. Tickets available by phoning Gillingham Marina on 01634 280022.

The extraordinary life and loves of John Oliver, Rochester Library, 9 Oct

John Oliver on the tug Hobbit.

An illustrated talk by Frances Beaumont about John Oliver who was a tug man on ‘Hobbit’ on the River Medway for 40 years. John was born without hands and two short arms and became very adept with his feet. Many people in Medway knew him – he was quite a character. He was also a trained artist with an NDD and had many other jobs. Booking is essential for this free event at Rochester Library, Eastgate, Rochester ME1 1EW on Wednesday 9 October from 2.30 to 4 pm. To book call 01634 337799.

Commissioning Ceremony of HMS Medway, Chatham, 19 Sept 2019

HMS Medway.

HMS Medway will be formally commissioned during a visit to Medway in September and Mr Russell Race JP DL, the link Deputy Lieutenant for Medway, will represent the Lord-Lieutenant at the event, to be held at Chatham on 19 September 2019 at 09.45. Following the Commissioning Ceremony, HMS Medway will provide the Royal Navy with patrol capabilities in home waters or overseas.

UPDATE: On Sunday 22 September, the ship will be open to visitors at Chatham Maritime from 10am to 4pm. No visitors will be admitted unless they have booked in advance. Visits can only be booked online and will be available via the website www.eventbrite.co.uk from Tuesday, 17 September. Read more at Kent Online…