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.

Raybel Christmas Event, 18 Dec

We are having a Festive Open Day on Saturday 18 December from 12 noon till 4pm. Social distancing and masks will be required but it will give you a chance to see how Raybel is progressing. Access to the Raybel display in the museum will be available but small groups only. The windows will be open so please wrap up warm, and sensible shoes only on Raybel. There will be music from 1pm – 3pm and festive pizza from 3.30 – 5pm made in our own oven. Bring a torch if you are coming late as some parts of the site can be dark. If you can’t make it, you can catch up with the latest restoration blog on our webpage

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.

Swale Match changed to 25 June 2022

The Swale Smack and Sailing Barge Match, organised by the Kentish Sail Association, has been changed to Saturday 25 June 2022 (not as published on the KSA website) because of a clash of dates for 20 August with other East Coast events, which would have prevented many of the usual entrants from being able to take part.  Next year is the 50th Anniversary of the very first Swale Match inspired by Laurie Tester, Lena Reekie and Richard Hugh Perks.  

There will be distinct advantages with the change. The later tides mean a very civilised later start than usual and, although this also means that the evening events will have to start later too, the long hours of summer daylight will mean that the prize-giving and party can go on for longer and without crews having to rush to catch a falling tide at Hollowshore.

More details about the Match will follow in the New Year.

David Pollock, KSA Swale Match Secretary

e-mail: kentishsail@gmail.com

phone: 07831 200 018

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.

Rochester Pier still closed but there’s hope

Adam Taylor of Medway Council advises that Rochester Pier remains closed to all river users, please do not attempt access via the brow (walkway between the pontoon and main pier).

Medway Council are working hard to secure resources to repair the pier and bring it back into full use, more updates will follow.

The MSBA understands that the pontoon is safe to moor on and this is allowed for short stays (no overnight mooring) but you must not attempt to go ashore via the brow.

Fingers crossed for funding!

Festival of Chatham Reach, 18-19 Sept

A country fayre atmosphere, with a focus on the heritage of the river and river vessels, we’ll be remembering the history of Sun Pier as a hub of river life coinciding with the second weekend of Heritage Open Days. Located alongside and on Sun Pier in Chatham – currently the only available public river access point in Medway – we will celebrate with historic vessels open to explore, free have-a-go stalls, history walks, and interactive activities to entertain and educate all ages.

In the days leading up to the festival a free sail will take place offering community groups and organisations who would never usually experience life on the river the chance to take the helm and have a go at steering the ship. Haul a sail, wind a winch, learn the history of the area and enjoy the peace of being on the river, all under sail on a 115-year wooden sailing barge (pre booking required). Seeing Medway from the river is without doubt its most beautiful viewpoint. These sailings will need to be booked in advance.

This event is organised by Medway Council in partnership with Sun Pier House and Tiller and Wheel.

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.