The Medway Queen has launched from Ramsgate’s slipway following completion of repair works

The Medway Queen is now off the slipway Photo Max Streatfield

By Dan Thompson

The Medway Queen has come off the slipway at Ramsgate harbour following her hull maintenance work.

The paddle steamer, which arrived in Ramsgate on July 18, is returning to Gillingham where she is looked after by The Medway Queen Preservation Society.

Photo Ian Shacklock
“Medway Queen now looks magnificent in her new coats of paint, with the sign writing and lining out complete,” says Richard Halton, one of the team restoring the ship, “so once back in Gillingham we can open to the public once more from February onwards. She’ll be open on Saturdays, as before, from 11am to 4pm (last admissions 3pm).”

While in Ramsgate, extensive work was done to the ship. Out of the water, the hull was inspected, cleaned and scraped, and then repainted.

The paddle wheels and their housings were cleaned and repainted. Some pieces were removed, ahead of reconstruction in Medway Queen’s workshops.

Photo Mario Portelli

On the deck, the saloon windows were varnished and promenade deck railings and the stanchions that hold them repainted. Some replacement stanchions were needed, and these were cast by Bridport Foundry and delivered to Ramsgate.

While she was in Ramsgate, Mark and Pam Bathurst, together with other volunteers from the fundraising team, set up an information table on Saturdays near the ship to collect donations, sell books, give out information and recruit new members – with considerable success.

The Medway Queen was launched in 1924 and entered service on Thames estuary routes in May of that year.

Photo Max Streatfield

She was used as a minesweeper in World War II and is famous for her seven trips to Dunkirk in 1940. She brought men from the beaches back to both Dover and to Ramsgate. The ship’s crew estimated that they evacuated 7,000 men while shooting down three Axis aircraft.

After the war she returned to her old route until 1963. From 1966 until 1974 she was a nightclub in the Isle of Wight.

Photo Ian Shacklock

In 1984 the Medway Queen was brought back from the Isle of Wight to the Medway area by a group of local businessmen, headed by Jim Ashton, who intended to restore her.

Photo Frank Leppard

In 2006, after many difficult years, a bid to the then Heritage Lottery Fund was successful and the hull has now been rebuilt. More recently, superstructures on the deck have been rebuilt.

Photo Ian Shacklock

To follow the ongoing restoration or become a supporter of the Medway Queen, visit https://www.medwayqueen.co.uk/

15 Comments

  1. Great photos. Many thanks to Max, Ian and Frank.

    What a pity events like this are not publicised, there could have been a large number of well-wishers watching her go. It seems to me that any event in Margate, however trivial, gets the full publicity shout, but Ramsgate is considered irrelevant by TDC. And RTC, did you know in advance?
    Well done Kathy for keeping us informed.

  2. The wonderful re-splendid Medway Queen is back where it belongs in Gillingham the hubub of Medway where it will show off its spectacular refit & redec. Welcome home!! & Medway is so proud of its history most importantly in WW2!!

  3. Who ever this Phyllis quot is should be ashamed of their comments the council should feel that they have a duty the local people to let them know . And attraction to the launch would have helped with any future fund raising shame on you Phyllis .

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