The Medway Queen Preservation Society has announced that tug Christine is now on her way to Bristol to tow the 1924 paddle steamer Medway Queen to her new home at Gillingham – and you can track their progress over the Internet.
When Christine arrives at Bristol and all necessary surveys are complete and certificates have been issued, Medway Queen will be towed out of the dry dock, manoeuvered through the locks and onto the river Avon, and then along the South Coast to the Medway.
This phase of the operation will be entirely dependent on both weather and the tides, but it is possible to follow the progress made by Christine’s and the Medway Queen progress back to Gillingham using and AIS system website such as www.marinetraffic.com/ais. Search for the Christine (UK registered tug), not for Medway Queen.
The tug and her charge are expected to take an inshore route along the South Coast. The date and time of arrival in Gillingham can only be predicted by following the tug’s progress, but the MQPS think the journey’s likely to take about five days from leaving Bristol, given good weather.
The Medway Queen’s arrival at Gillingham Pier is a major event; as she arrives the MQPS visitor centre will be open, although for reasons of safety the public will not be able to enter the pier itself while the ship is mooring.
PS – People have been asking whether the Medway Queen will be carrying passengers. I’ve put the question to the MQPS and been told that the issue is complicated, and that for safety reasons her new riveted iron hull is ruled out for carrying passengers on the open sea. I’m told the jury is out as to whether she’ll be able to carry passengers on sheltered waters such as the Medway – one issue is said to be that the well known paddle steamers currently operating have great difficulty paying their way.