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