PS Medway Queen
The paddle boxes and funnel temporarily on Chatham Dockyard.
|Career (United Kingdom)|
PS Medway Queen (1938-39~)|
HMS Medway Queen (1939-47)
PS Medway Queen (from 1947)
New Medway Steam Packet Company (1924-39)|
Royal Navy (1939-47)
New Medway Steam Packet Company (1947-64)
(Nightclub, Ryde) (1964-85)
Medway Queen Preservation Society (from 1985)
|Port of registry:||
Royal Navy (1939-47)
Rochester (from 1947)
|Builder:||Ailsa Shipbuilding Company, Troon, Scotland|
|Yard number:||PS 388|
|Launched:||Wednesday 23 April 1924|
|Out of service:||1964|
UK Official Number 148361|
Code letters GGNG (1944- )
Pennant Number N 48 (1939-42)
Pennant Number J48 (1942-47)
Under restoration |
Decommissioned 11 December 1997
|Notes:||Sea trials 1924|
|Length:||179 ft 9 in (54.79 m)|
24 ft 2 in (7.37 m) hull|
50 ft (15.24 m) over paddle frames
|Draught:||7 ft 8 in (2.34 m)|
|Installed power:||Scotch type boiler 11 feet long, fitted with triple furnaces feeding Ailsa built compound diagonal steam engine. Coal fired when built, converted to oil fired by Wallsend Engineering in 1938, built by Ailsa|
13 knots (24 km/h) at 45rpm cruising|
15 knots (28 km/h) at 55rpm maximum speed
The PS Medway Queen is a paddle driven steamship, the only estuary paddle steamer left in the United Kingdom. She was one of the "little ships of Dunkirk", making a record 7 trips and rescuing 7000 men in the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Presently deconstructed, she is the subject of a £1.8 million National Lottery Heritage Memorial Fund grant to restore her hull. Funds are being raised to restore the rest of her to operational condition.
PS Medway Queen was built at the Ailsa Shipbuilding Company in Troon, Scotland, in 1924 for service on the River Medway and the Thames Estuary. Trialled on the River Clyde, she was delivered to be part of the "Queen Line" fleet of the New Medway Steam Packet Company based at Rochester, Kent. She steamed the Thames on the routes from Chatham and Strood, to Sheerness, Herne Bay and Margate in Kent; and Clacton and Southend in Essex.
World War II
After evacuating Kent children to East Anglia in 1939, she became part of the flotilla of ships evacuating British Army soldiers from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo. After making seven trips (the record number of crossings by a civilian ship involved in the evacuation), she sustained considerable damage on her final trip, but by then had rescued 7,000 men gaining four awards for gallantry and shot down three enemy aircraft. In view of this remarkable achievement in rescuing so many Allied troops from France, she earned the title given to her of "The Heroine of Dunkirk".
In 1942 she was converted to a mine sweeping training ship, and served out the war in this capacity.
Return to service
Rebuilt by Thorneycrofts of Southampton in 1946, she returned to civilian service with New Medway Steam Packet Company for the 1947 season. When Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, PS Medway Queen again attended the Coronation Review at Spithead.
Taken out of service in 1963 and scheduled to be scrapped in Belgium,. The Belgian ship-breaker upon discovering that the vessel he was expecting to break up was none other than "The Heroine of Dunkirk", he declined to continue (it is reported that he felt that no one should dare to destroy such a gallant and important little ship).
Having been saved she was eventually sold for use as a nightclub in the Isle of Wight. Proving an attraction, she was replaced by the PS Ryde and moved to the River Medina, where she was sunk by accident.
In 1984 she was bought by private owners with the aim of preserving her, and returned on a pontoon to the Chatham. However, the plans soon fell apart, and after she sank again in 1985 the Medway Queen Preservation Society formed, with the intention of preserving the historical ship.
Moved to Damhead Creek, Kingsnorth on the Hoo Peninsula in 1987, the trust lacked funds to bring back to service, and struggled to preserve the structure. After a series of near disasters, in 2006 the National Lottery Heritage Memorial Fund agreed a £1.8 million funding package to restore structure, subject to society raising £225,000. Having completed the fund raising, the trust was disappointed that neither the insurance company or marine engineers were confident that her hull was seaworthy and unable of sustaining lifting on to a pontoon. In October 2006, the Trust agreed that the deconstruction of the hull and salvageable pieces moved to Chatham Dockyard, in preparation of the hull being professionally restored to seaworthy condition.
In October 2008, the society signed a contract with David Abels (Shipbuilders) to restore the hull at the Albion Dry Dock in Bristol. This will be done using plate rivetting by a team of 10, and is envisaged to take two years. Work began in April 2009 and is due to be completed in the summer of 2010.
Official number and code letters
Official Numbers were a forerunner to IMO Numbers.
- 1924 - built Troon, Scotland, by the Ailsa Yard for service on the River Medway and the Thames Estuary. Trialled on the River Clyde
- 1925 - working on River Medway and the Thames Estuary, part of the "Queen Line" fleet of the New Medway Steam Packet Company based at Rochester, Kent
- 1937 - attended the Coronation Review for George VI at Spithead
- 1938 - converted by Wallsend Engineering from coal to oil burning, by Wallsend Engineering
- 1939 - carried children evacuated from Kent to East Anglia. Joined Royal Navy as minesweeper No J 48 (N 48) serving for the duration of the war in the 10th minesweeping flotilla in the English Channel
- 1940 - became part of the flotilla of ships evacuating British Army soldiers from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo. After making seven trips (the record number of crossings by any merchant navy ship involved in the evacuation), she rescued over 7,000 men gaining for the ship's crew four awards for gallantry and shot down three enemy aircraft. At one time during the evacuation she was overdue and was thought to lost with all hands and troops - but she eventually arrived back at Dover, ready to return to France for more troops. The sterling efforts of the ship and her crew earned the paddle steamer the title of "Heroine of Dunkirk"
- 1946 - rebuilt by Thorneycrofts of Southampton
- 1947 - returned to civilian service with New Medway Steam Packet Company
- 1953 - attended the Coronation Review for Elizabeth II at Spithead
- 1963 - taken out of service, with the possibility of being broken up (but the Belgian shipbreaker declined to break up the "Heroine of Dunkirk", so she was thus saved an ignoble end)
- 1964 - sold, and latterly opened as a nightclub on the Isle of Wight
- 1970s - replaced by larger ship PS Ryde, moved to the River Medina and then was sunk by accident
- 1984 - raised and towed back to the River Medway on a pontoon by new owners
- ???? - abandon and sinks again, while moored against the wall of Chatham Dockyard
- 1985 - the Medway Queen Preservation Society formed, with the intention of preserving the historical ship
- 1987 - raised and moved Damhead Creek, Kingsnorth on the Hoo Peninsula
- 2006 - the National Lottery Heritage Memorial Fund agree £1.8 million funding package to restore structure, subject to society raising £225,000
- 2006 - deconstructed, as hull considered unseaworthy or of sustaining lifting on to a pontoon. Hull and salvageable pieces moved to Chatham Dockyard
- 2009 - Restoration begins in April.
- New Medway SP Co
- Medway Queen
- Robinson, Hayley (10 October 2008), "Crowning moment for Historic Queen", Medway Extra, Larkfield, Kent
- "Dunkirk rescue boat gets revamp". BBC News Online. 17 April 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/8003710.stm. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
- "LLOYD'S REGISTER, NAVIRES A VAPEUR ET A MOTEURS". Plimsoll Ship Data. http://www.plimsollshipdata.org/pdffile.php?name=44b0708.pdf. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
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