Medway Queen homecoming

Photo Mark Colyer

On Thursday the veteran paddle steamer Medway Queen, was towed from Ramsgate to the Medway by the tug Christine. At night she was temporarily moored at the Bullnose Lock at Chatham Docks (see photo) and was moved to her home berth at Gillingham Pier on Friday afternoon.

The MQ is now safely on her berth. There’s a video (by Mark Colyer) of her docking on the MSBA Facebook page.

Here are more photos by Brian Corbett:

Faversham Swing Bridge – Latest News

The MSBA supports Faversham Creek Trust in their campaign to restore the swing bridge, which would allow craft such as sailing barges to use the basin at the head of the creek. On Friday 10 December Helen Whately MP met with representatives from Kent County Council, Faversham Town Council, the Faversham Society and the Faversham Creek Trust to discuss progress since their last meeting in June. The Town Council kicked off the meeting with an update on their legal advice. It said the Secretary of State has the power to issue an Abatement Notice under section 43 of the Medway Ports Act 1973 to compel the party with obligations to maintain this bridge, sluice gates and associated works so as to permit navigation again. The Town Council has written to the Secretary of State for Transport asking him to issue this notice. The meeting agreed that supporting the Town Council to achieve this objective was the best way forward. Money currently pledged by Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council, and Faversham Town Council and raised from the community by the Faversham Creek Trust, is not enough to cover the cost of restoring the bridge. We need Peel Ports to play their part to get the bridge back into working order, this would go a long way towards plugging the funding gap for making the creek basin usable again. KCC confirmed that the Faversham community funding is safely held in a separate account except where individual donors have requested and received their donations back. Kent County Council is helping the Town Council to provide the Department of Transport with further information about the bridge and creek. Helen Whately will press the Secretary of State to take this course of action. While this is a positive step forward there is still a long way to go. KCC confirmed that design work on the bridge and sluices is completed and tender documents are ready. Both Helen and KCC have agreed to update residents about progress so far including future designs for the bridge.

Medway Queen looking magnificent

Medway Queen looks magnificent on the Ramsgate slipway (photo: David Stearne).

News from MQPS: Unfortunately she is set to continue to look magnificent there for a little while yet. The plan was for her to come off the slip yesterday afternoon and for the tugs to bring her back to Gillingham at the earliest opportunity. The operation had  hardly started and MQ was about a quarter of the way down when the winch jammed. Now we have to wait for that to be fixed. We have been assured that she is high enough to be in no danger, but it is still a cause of considerable frustration! It is just “one of those things” and we have to make the best of it.

Queenborough Classic Boat Show, 11-12 Sept

Step aboard a variety of historic tugs, sailing barges and sailing yachts. Free entry.

Queenborough Harbour is conveniently situated in North Kent where the Swale, Medway & Thames meet and an ideal base for cruising. Queenborough Harbour Trust is a not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of the local community and maritime users both resident and from further afield. Trust members are drawn from local boating and civic interest groups such as the Queenborough Yacht Club, Queenborough Rowing Club and the Queenborough Society. Queenborough Harbour is the primary boating refuge on the Swale providing valuable mooring facilities for local yachtsmen, fishermen and visitors alike drawn by the exceptional natural beauty and wildlife of the area, its fascinating maritime history, the convenience of the all tide landing and its strategic positioning as a safe haven between London and Ramsgate.

Morris Tolhurst

Today was the funeral of MSBA Treasurer Morris Tolhurst, who died on 18 July, aged 69. He owned Beacon Boatyard at Borstal, near Rochester, and was father of our Patron, Kelly Tolhurst MP. He leaves his wife Chris, two daughters and two granddaughters.

Morris, a quiet but gifted man, will be missed greatly by his family and his many friends in the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships and the Medway boating community.

The Swale Match: a Celebration of Traditional Sail

Report by Julian Mannering

Last Saturday witnessed the 48th annual Swale Smack & Sailing Barge Match and the magnificent sight of some thirty traditional vessels racing in the River Swale off Faversham and Whitstable. The organisers, the Kentish Sail Association, were delighted that, having had to cancel the event for two years due to gales and the pandemic, they were finally able to fire the starting cannon for the 22-mile race out into the Thames estuary and back to the finishing line off Faversham Creek.

Strong winds on the Friday had prevented some entrants arriving from Essex, but there were plenty of vessels to make a great spectacle. The newly-built Thames barge Blue Mermaid was one of the few craft to make it over from Essex and she went on to win the Bowsprit Class. A good turnout of Kent barges – Repertor, Orinoco, Marjorie, Niagra, Edith May and the beautifully restored Cambria ­– had a fine day’s racing with Repertor winning the Staysail Barge Class, and Cambria the Restricted Class. There were prizes for other craft with the smack William & Mary, the smack yacht Bird of Dawning, the large gaffer Almita and the small gaffer Fifi all taking line honours in their classes.

The Swale also welcomed two traditional Dutch sailing vessels, Albatros and Johanna, the Humber keel Selby Ellen,and Lilian, the beautiful gentleman’s motor yacht, built in Stockholm in 1916, which this year acted as the Committee Boat and added another layer of old-time elegance to the day.

The Swale Match is the largest such traditional boat event on the East Coast, possibly in the country, and offers a vital celebration of these beautiful craft that still play a part around our coast and in our maritime story.

Swale Barge Match, Sat 31 July

David Pollock of the Kentish Sail Association writes: After 2 years’ cancellations, we’re hoping for a third time lucky and invite you to take part in the Match on 31 July 2021.  The Swale Match was established by Laurie Tester, Lena Reekie, Hugh Perks and others in 1973, as a festival of all manner of traditional sailing craft on the East Coast.  The assembled fleet usually comprises not only Thames sailing barges, smacks and bawleys in several categories, but also a variety of gaffers, classic and bermudan yachts, as well as Dutch barges, Baltic traders and historic powered craft.  This provides a magnificent spectacle on the water both for participants and for onlookers.

Swale Match 1982

Last year we introduced a new Open class last year, for non-traditional or unconventional craft, subject to interest.  We also held a match race for the Small Open Gaffers class on the Saturday after the scheduled Match, which was very well supported. 

Both at anchor in the Swale and on land at Hollowshore, crews and supporters come together for prize-giving and entertainment.  As well as Testers’ Boatyard, furnished for the weekend with food and drink stalls and live music, the shore venue also includes the fabled Shipwright’s Arms, supplying cask ales and food. The weekend starts on Friday afternoon, the Match is on Saturday and the homeward voyage is usually undertaken on the Sunday, but you can stay longer!

For further information and to register interest, please contact David Pollock at kentishsail@gmail.com, or phone 07831 200018

Medway Queen forges ahead

Everything is still locked down by winter and the pandemic but the Medway Queen Preservation Society has ambitious plans for the coming year. All dependent, of course, on Covid and in some respects the weather. Nevertheless they will get as much done in 2021 as available time, effort and cash allow. To that end the MQPS is seeking sponsorship for two main projects this year. Follow the link below to find out more…

https://www.medwayqueen.co.uk/2021-work-program.html#

An unusual request

Welders at the Dockyard called these low, stable working platforms “soggy logs”. John Sutton, owner of the Russian submarine, lost his when it was “borrowed.” He says, “it was about 15ft x 6ft with low freeboard so ideal for working from, 4ft thick so very stable.” He asks if anyone has seen it or can offer him something similar. It doesn’t have to be quite as big as the one in the photo. Please let us know at info@msba.org.uk and we’ll pass on the message.