Bristol Industrial
Archaeological Society (BIAS)
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BIAS Photos of the Medway Queen

Maggie.Shapland@gmail.com

Update

16 Nov 2013: Expected time of arrival at Gillingham 18th Nov now 1pm due to the help of prevailing winds and a dedicated crew working all day and night

Update

15 Nov 2013: Expected time of arrival at Gillingham 18th Nov 6:30pm

Update

14 Nov 2013: The paddle steamer will leave the Avonmouth port tomorrow 15th November. It is expected that the Pilot will board about 1400 hrs and the ship towed by the tug Christine will leave the lock at about 1500 hrs. All this is of course depends on the weather conditions remaining good.
Medway
At last, the moment everyone has been waiting for! In sight at Battery Point, crabbing a bit!
Medway
Turning to get round the point
Medway
Nice view of the Severn Bridge
Medway
A lovely view of the Medway Queen
Medway
Further round
Medway
A great view of Christine doing all the work
Medway
Past the light house
Medway
Passing Clevedon pier. Long Tow

Update

31 Oct: The tow started before 2 and left the Basin lock at 3pm
Medway
leaving the swing bridge
Medway
harbourmaster thinking about the job ahead
Medway
Cumberland Basin bridge swung
Medway
all vessels fitted into the lock
Medway
Medway crew looking very composed
Medway
The Bristolian tug helping at the rear, and the Tower Belle to spectate. Loads of room!
Medway
Suspension Bridge in the background
Medway
leaving the lock
Medway Medway
a grand sight- worth running along for
Medway
going past Bridge Valley Road, harbourmaster still keeping watchful eye
Medway
really motoring along now
Medway
nothing for the crew to do!
Medway
manoevering to get round the bend
Medway Medway
entering the horshoe bend
Medway
going round horseshoe bend
Medway
Medway
the towing hook
Medway
bow plimsol line
Medway
stern plimsol line. shows shallow draught

She then holed up at Avonmouth as she did not pass Battery Point

Update

29 Oct: I have been informed that the tow is planned to start on Thursday 31st October at 1400 hrs. They can not leave the Cumberland Basin lock before 3:15. This will depend on the weather conditions and is subject to change. The tow will head for Falmouth first before ending in the Medway.

Update

23 Oct: The boat crosses the harbour about 9am 24 Oct.
Medway
Medway
pulling out by hand
Medway
Medway
harbourmasters arrive
Medway
Christine arrives
Medway
Christine
Medway
thinking about the event ahead
Medway
harbourmasters pay a visit to Christine
Medway
Christine starts the tow
Medway
Medway
turbulance by wheels
Medway
Christine reaches other side, harbourmaster speeds up to assist
Medway
Medway Queen needs nudging round, appears to be about to T-bone Christine
Medway
ever closer
Medway
Medway being nudged round
Medway
Medway
Christine safely out of the way, great teamwork
Medway
Medway
a grand sight, the Medway Queen appears to be unaided
Medway
pulling the stern
Medway
other boat pushing too
Medway
Medway
still pulling her closer to the side
Medway
Medway
good view of paddlewheels (paddles remove to lessen drag)
Medway
in the meantime Christine has been pushing at the bow
Medway
being pulled up at the stern from dry land

Update

21 Oct: The boat is ready to leave the dock. Access to the gang plank has already been removed. Depending on the weather, the Medway Queen will be towed back as soon as there is a two day window to get to Newlyn the first safe point.
There must be less than a force 5 wind (19 knots) down the Severn estuary to set off, so she may not set off until next week.

Medway
Everyone is keeping an eye open!

11 October 2013

The tug "Christine", operated by A. J. and A. Pratt of Rainham, has been contracted to tow "Medway Queen" back to Gillingham and is now on her way to Bristol. When she arrives and all necessary surveys are complete and certificates issued Medway Queen will be towed out of the dry dock, manoeuvred through the locks and onto the river Avon. This and subsequent phases of the operation will be entirely dependent on both weather and tides. These factors are beyond anyone's control although the tides at least are predictable. You can follow the Christine's progress back to Gillingham on www.marinetraffic.com/ais. They are expected to take an inshore route along the South Coast and for those who don't already know, search for the "Christine" (UK registered tug), not for "Medway Queen".
http://www.vesselfinder.com/?p=1765 also shows Christine if marinetraffic does not!

The date and time of arrival in Gillingham are dependent on operational requirements and will only be predictable by following the tug's progress; it is expected to take an inshore route along the South Coast. Our estimate is around 5 days after leaving Bristol given good weather. Medway Queen's arrival at Gillingham Pier will be a major event for the area and we are planning this in three stages:

  1. Arrival on the Medway in charge of the tug "Christine" and mooring up in the river to await a suitable tide.
  2. Berthing at Gillingham Pier and, finally,
  3. A celebration event for members and guests shortly after "Medway Queen" has been settled into her home.

30 September 2013

Though the docks are full of water, she is not ready to go. They have inclined the ship and need to produce stability info before MCA will issue a loadline exemption.
Medway Medway

27 July 2013

Re-dedication. The first fully riveted hull to be constructed in the UK for over 50 years.
medway bow
Name resplendent on the side
medway side
medway stern medway andrew
Andrew looking very smart talking to some of the hundreds of guests who turned up

21 March 2013

We made our third visit to the Medway Queen to inspect progress since she is due to leave the Albion dock at the end of April.
http://www.medwayqueen.co.uk/ gives all the details about the boat and when she will leave Bristol

The Bristol phase of the project is nearing completion. It is due to be completed by the end of April and will go shortly after. A final visit was arranged on March 21st before she goes, and 30 were eager to see progress. The hull will be painted before she goes. She will be towed since although the engines are in, the boiler is not. That will be done at Gillingham. The elm spring boards are installed. The deck has to be of original timber so is pine (douglas fir- the plans said silver pine but this is an unknown tree!). There is a gap so that it can swell and shrink (agreed after some controversy) and there was enough original timber from the boat to do the deck.

They have been waiting for the piston rings for 15 months. The slide bar has been remachined. There was some discussion about percent of originality due to having a new hull but it has been agreed that 65% is original. The boat is not fully certified due the method of construction specified, so upto 12 passengers can be carried, and later it may be possible to carry 50. This is rather a lot less than the 768 originally!

medway deck medway bow
medway engine
Compound diagonal type
medway engine

March 2012

We went to see the Medway Queen again (last visited in April and May 2011) before it goes- when nobody knows! One person can do 150 rivets a day since it takes 3 minutes per hole but not everyone achieves that. The boat is incredibly slender because it is an estuary boat- 180' as opposed to the Waverley which is 240' wide. The timber for the decks has been delivered have yet to be placed in position. All 22000 running feet! So many photos- difficult to decide which ones to use!
medway deck
paddleboxes in position, and deck supports
medway bow
Controls and oil fuel tanks (oil fired from 1938 - enabled it to save so many people since refuelling quicker)
medway engine
Paddlewheels
medway engine
Crank

May 2011

We had a fascinating tour round the Albion boatyard and heard about challenges of restoring the Medway Queen. She was built in 1924 on the River Clyde in Scotland but sailed in the estuary waters of the River Thames and River Medway. In WWII she was requisitioned and converted to a minesweeper. Initially she operated out of Dover and later in the war was based in Scotland as a training vessel. Her finest moment came in 1940 when she made seven crossings to the beaches of Dunkirk rescuing 7000 men. The bravery of her gallant crew lead to the title 'Heroine of Dunkirk" being bestowed, and this is why she is such an important vessel. She also went to the rescue of another sinking paddle steamer and rescued its passengers with no loss of life. She could do 14-15 knot. She was oil-fired so quick to refuel. After the war the 'Medway Queen' returned to pleasure steaming on the River Medway and Thames, under her original owners, until withdrawal in 1963. It had subsequently sunk twice, had hit a pier and broken her paddles so was in a very sorry state. It had been built to Clyde racing rules so thin plate had been used. At the time labour was cheap and materials expensive- now it is the opposite.
medway paddle shafts
100 ton press had failed to separate the shaft from the paddle hubs
- so then cooked and a 200 ton press applied which stripped the threads of the press.
A simple lock ring was all that was holding them!
medway bow
New parts manufactured for the paddles

Andrew came to work at the yard in 1999 and said that the Medway Queen had been his most interesting project. They had been chosen because they were an existing shipyard. It is a fixed term contract to deliver a watertight box afloat by the end of 2011 otherwise funding is lost. Engine restoration is not part of the contract. 10 staff are employed. 32,000 rivets of a special domed shape have been ordered (the supplier thought they had made a mistake!) and we were shown the way a rivet was heated up to temperature in only a few seconds. Andrew had talked to many riveters to find out about the technique, since it was the first ship to be constructed in this way for 50 years, so was a dying art. He still had his own ideas having worked it out from first principles, and when he questioned them he found that sometimes they had been taught to do things in a particular way without questioning the reason why

rivet
Cooking a rivet using a 7 1/2kw induction heater. This one was cooked for 29.41 seconds! A repeatable quality needing 2 minutes tuition. Pneumatic hammers were too big and expensive.
rivet arm
Rivets keep in rivet arm even if upside down and do not need hardening. There is 65mm to play with. Panels are tacked, removed, contersunk on the floor. Rivet head inside but can not do on the side. Rivet freezes as can not do it quick enough. There is a jambag inside, riveter outside. Riveting tongs work at 10,000psi which leaked but 35,000 more reliable. Bigger ones can do shell plating
rudder
original rudder in place. Slender stern
rivet
Andrew describing rivets
bow
The bow before rivetting has taken place
The rudder is the original one. The engine and a couple of pumps were there too. There are no drawings so everything has to be worked out. We heard that some thieves had stolen some of the original handrail fittings from a Medway town which must have been a bitter blow. The boat is amazingly slender and only has a draft of 78 and length 1799. It is lovely to see the large covered dry dock originally built by Hillhouse in 1820 in use for such a venerable project. The group asked interesting questions such as about the lapping of the plates on the hull appearing to be upwards rather than downwards. 12,000 28 gauge brass screws had to be ordered. Work began in April 2009 to a fixed price and the hull has to be completed by December else the lottery money will be forfeited so it is a tight schedule. We also heard the sorry story about the Portsmouth ferry that had been ordered and half completed but had been cancelled at the last minute when there were plans to build a light rail transit system (which did not go ahead).

More information on www.medwayqueen.co.uk.


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