The Medway by paddlesteamer

VIC 56 Medway

VIC 56, just outside Chatham Dockyard. Click on the images in this post (and most others!) for much larger photos

The weather forecast predicted strong winds and thunderstorms – so I decided against going sailing. But what to do instead? Julie and I decided to take a river trip down the Medway on the wonderful paddlesteamer Kingswear Castle, starting  from Rochester Pier, just by the city’s impressive Norman castle, and these are a selection of photos from the outing.

I hope you’re seated comfortable, for there are lots of shots here – and quite a few questions. If you know the answers, please fill me in using either the Comment button below, or by emailing me at

TID 164 steam tug Medway redundant lightships houseboats medway

TID 164, VIC 56, redundant lightships on the Medway

unusual schooner - who designed and built her? Pretty motorsailer Medway paddlesteamer

The river had a lot to show us that was intriguing, to say the least. What’s the story, we wondered, behind this neat little schooner? Or the pretty and comfortable-looking motorsailer?

Sweet cutter - is she a conversion? Pretty little clinker yacht outside Medway cruising club's premises Elegant wooden yacht, apparently on the brink of going somewhere

There was this beautiful old cutter – is she a conversion? And this pretty little clinker built pocket cruiser. And what about this elegant cruiser apparently on the brink of going somewhere?

Old fashioned yacht A smack moored opposite the dockyard

Two photos of the same old-fashioned yacht, and a smack yacht moored near Upnor Castle

Sinking building in the Chatham Dockyard grounds

This old fashioned chine-hulled dayboat, very like one I’ve seen many times moored at Queenborough – I wonder whether they were made by a local builder? I’m sure generations of visitors have been intrigued by this sinking building in the grounds of Chatham Dockyard

Smacks moored and ready for a race Harvest Queen looks like a converted wooden motor fishing vessel

Old smacks stand ready for a race; Harvest Queen looks like a converted wooden motor fishing vessel

Dutch tjalk Small Thames barge Whippet

There was this pocket cruiser – I haven’t figured out to which design she was built, but will be looking her up – and this smart Dutch tjalk, and the small Thames barge Whippet

Hope of Porthleven

Hope of Porthleven, and cormorants guarding their buoys

Paddle steamer tug Mystery yacht

Steam tug John H Amos – I gather there’s hope she will be restored; a mystery yacht I’d like to know more about; one of the forts known as Palmerston’s follies

A squib returns from racing Double ended motor fishing vessel Double-ended motor fishing vessel

A Squib returns from Sunday racing; a motor fishing vessel that looks a lot like Jay Cresswell’s model of a ring-netter

Another double-ended MFV Edith May is still looking very smart following her restoration at Lower Halstow

Another very well looked-after MFV conversion, Thames barge Edith May is also looking great following her restoration

Russian submarine in the Medway conning tower Russian submaring Black Widow on the Medway

The Medway’s Cold War-era Russian sub, however, is very down-at-heel

No vessel to anchor opposite Powder magazine

You can’t moor here; and here’s why

Bella something of Dover

Finally, what’s this craft? I’ve never heard of the Bella-something of Dover, and the Internet seems to be unaware of her also. What is her future to be, I wonder?

The Medway Pilots webpage has a useful history of the River Medway.

11 thoughts on “The Medway by paddlesteamer”

  1. Talking about the John H Amos, thats exactly the reason why I envy you British. If there is temporarely no use for a boat like this, you leave it to rot someplace. As long as it exists, theres hope that someone comes along and rescues it. We here in Germany tend to destroy what we (seemingly) dont need anymore. Thats why there are not many old ships left over here. lately we got the information that there was an old tugboat which worked our waterways was for sale. When we came there it was cut in two halves! Because it was 6 ft. to long to go as a pleasure boat! If there are historic boats or ships of German origin, they mostly survive because they where sold abroad sometime in their career.

    I hope there will be someone to save John H Amos.


  2. That chine dayboat looks identical to the one Nick Hann has at Leigh-on-sea. Maybe there's three of them! Nick also owns the Barge Yacht Nancy Grey. Dick

  3. She looks very similar to a small group of very lovely English Folkboats – Carvel hulls, coachroof forward of the mast, cruising interior etc and often an inboard engine – which were built by Husband's Shipyard on the Test just opposite the site of the Southampton Boat Show for the sons and daughter of the Husband family.

    I wrote a piece on the Folkboats for Yachting World ages ago and had a wonderful day looking at the boats in their special boat shed where they spent the winter beeing looked after by their very own boatbuilder.

    They stayed in the family for years, but eventually I think I am right in saying a couple of them were sold off.

    Tomic was the best known one as she used to race a lot with Tom Husband.


  4. The "pretty little cream- hulled cruiser" is a Folkboat with an extra strake to give her slightly more freeboard. She was built in Scandinavia in the late 40s for an English engineer as payment for some work he had carried out there: I was given this information by him.

  5. The John H Amos, the last steam paddle tug in the UK and is only 1 of 2 currently left in the world, is currently awaiting funding for complete restoration, and is in the care of the Medway Maritime Trust. They also own the steam tug TID164. TID164 is currently undergoing refurbishment and repair. She should be back in steam in 2011. A full history of both the ships and more can be found on the Trusts website:

  6. Ref the pic of the pale blue former fishing boat.

    Yes, you are right, it is an ex ring netter.

    Moreover, New Dawn was built by the Alex Noble & Sons yard, Girvan. But she has a cruiser stern rather than the canoe stern that Ribhinn Don I (the model on this site) and a fair few otehr Noble ringers had.

    Have to say that New Dawn looks tired … and shows signs of nail sickness. Poor old girl.


    Jay Cresswell


  7. I used to own the cream coloured MFV Emblem. She was built in 1934 by Forbes of Sandhaven as a seine netter.
    Requesitioned by the Admiralty in 1940 and saw war service till 1945 when she was re engined with a Gardner 4L3W and returned to commercial fishing.
    The other MFV New Dawn is in fact also from the same shipyard, Forbes of Sandhaven and does indeed have a canoe stern and not a cruiser stern. Her engine was fitted much further back then Emblem which gives her unbroken living accomodation whereas Emblem’s rear cabin was accessed via the engineroom.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.