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 gmatkin@gmail.com.

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

This old fashioned chine-hulled dayboat, much like one I've seen many times moored at Queenborough Roskilde - very pretty, but what is she? 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.

The effort to take Victorian racing cutter Leila back to sea needs money and help

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great yarmouth, leila, racing, repair, restoration, smack, southwold, victorian yacht, wooden boat, yacht

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Leila needs more repair work than expected

A group caring for a rare National Historic Ships Register-listed 42ft Victorian racing cutter at Southwold are urgently appealing for more manpower and financial help.

Leila was built at Charlton, London in 1892. She’s a striking and unusual yacht: above the waterline she looks very much like a smack, but below the waterline she’s clearly a racing yacht with an impressive 8ft deep keel.

In her early years sailed with the Royal Temple Yacht Club at Ramsgate, and won the Round Britain Race in 1904. From 1961 until a few years ago she was kept at Fisher’s Quay, Great Yarmouth.

When restored and brought up to the relevant Coastguard standards, she will be used for sail training local youngsters, and will again operate from Fisher’s Quay. I hope to visit this weekend and take some more photos.

The Leila Trust has so far raised £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £2000 from the National Maritime Museum and £40,000 from private donations – but are now having to appeal for an extra £30,000 after finding unexpected areas of rot in the hull that have been caused by leaks around iron fittings around the forward beam shelves.

To find out more, and to offer help etc, contact the Leila Trust via their website: http://leila2c.org.

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A waterside stroll around Plymouth

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Smeaton’s Tower, Plymouth Hoe. As usual, click on the thumbnails for much larger photos

Today we have one of intheboatshed.net’s waterside strolls – and this time it’s a series of photos taken by my wife Julie Atkin on a recent trip to the old maritime city of Plymouth.

The town shows the scars of having been devastated by a notorious wartime bombing raid in 1941 but still has quite a few old gems of buildings left from earlier times. It also has some striking large and small monuments, many of which are rather touching.

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Cattewater Harbour Commission; the impressive Royal William Victualling Yard built in the 1820s; the wonderful 1935 Tinside tidal swimming pool; and the site where they make the fabulously fragrant Plymouth Gin

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Apart from the smack in the first group of photos there weren’t many interesting old wooden boats around, but she found these  – the one on the left is for sale

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The Sir Francis Drake monument; the Mayflower monument; a list of the Pilgrim Fathers (click on the image to see it at a readable size); Roanoke Colonies; Tolpuddle Martyrs; iron pipes!

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Monuments on the wall of the Royal National Lifeboats Institution shop make loss and survival at sea intensely personal: see how the name Launder comes up several times, and the memorials to the crew of the Pescado, the last of the old time trawler skippers and the last steam trawler skipper. And don’t miss the memorial to the elderly couple whose long lives are attributed to eating a lot of fish