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Medway Queen  (II)

Built in 2013 by Abel's Shipbuilders Ltd of Bristol
Length 179.9 ft
Engines : Compound Diagonal  21 and 48 in x 48 in  ex- Medway Queen (1924)

2009 : new hull closely based on that of Medway Queen (1924) commenced construction at Abel's Shipbuilders of Bristol
25/10/13 - completed hull (to main deck level) with refurbished engine in situ eased out of Abel's dry dock into Bristol harbour to await conditions for a tow to Gillingham
31/10/13 - towed by MV Christine through Avon gorge to Avonmouth Docks to await a suitable four-day window
15/11/13 - the tow to Gillingham behind MV Christine commenced

Now open for inspection, events and public hire and with a visitor centre (with limited opening times) at Gillingham pier


Medway Queen (1924) cruised the rivers Medway and Thames and the south - east coast of England and had a distinguished record at the Dunkirk evacuations of 1940, making seven successful cross-channel trips ans saving over 7000 soldiers. Withdrawn in 1963 and apparently destined for shipbreakers in Belgium, she was bought to become the club house for a yacht marina on the Isle of Wight in England. When the larger Paddle Steamer PS Ryde was brought to Binfield Marina to provide a larger clubhouse, Medway Queen fell into disuse and disrepair. Saved once again by enthusiasts, she was towed on a pontoon barge back to the River Medway in 1984 with a view to permanent preservation. Moored at Chatham at a tidal berth, the delapidated ship partially submerged on each tide and her condition deteriorated further. In 1985 the Medway Queen Preservation Society (MQPS) was formed, the ship was refloated in 1987 and towed to a new berth at Damhead Creek on the Hoo peninsula, near the mouth of the Medway. The new berth, whilst tidal provided a safe haven for the volunteer preservation efforts to proceed. Slow progress was made, but the ship deteriorated faster than it could be restored.

A major boost was received in 2006 when, after several failed attempts to obtain funding from the UK's Heritage Fund, a grant of just over GBP 1.86 m was awarded. The grant, alongside MQPS' own funds and new cash raised allowed the hull to be rebuilt. The existing hull was dismantled "in situ" in August 2006 with all re-usable parts, including the engine, put into storage.

In 2008 a contract was awarded to Abel of Bristol to rebuild the hull in traditional riveted form after the resolution of problems arising from a conflict between the need for a "heritage" rebuild and the need to incorporate modern construction practice. There remains an issue to the extent that heritage funds were only available on condition that the hull was of a riveted  construction. Although the rebuilding is a long way from being complete, the Preservation Society hope that she can be used commercially in the future. There is no certainty that the regulatory authorities will issue a passenger certificate due to the construction methods and hull design not meeting the standards required for a new ship (which Medway Queen would be regarded as)

MQ Oct 11 K Whyte.jpg

The new Medway Queen under construction in Bristol in 2011
Photo by kind courtesy of Kenny Whyte

Go to

Medway Queen - Official Vessel internet Site

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