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Return of Medway Queen to Gilllingham

PS Medway Queen is back in Gillingham, having returned ‘home’ on Friday 7 January 2022 with the assistance of the tug Christine, aided by the smaller Nipashore.

She was towed to EAPL’s Ramsgate slipway in the summer of 2021, primarily to have the hull inspected, cleaned/scraped and repainted. Primer, undercoat and top coat applications would be needed after removal of all loose or flaking material.

To that end the yard’s first major job was erecting scaffolding to allow safe access to the hull sides. The MQPS Board also decided to get other work done while the ship was in a safer working environment.

Besides the hull repaint the paddle wheels and underside of the sponsons needed cleaning and painting. Some of the smaller internal compartments cannot be safely painted without breathing equipment which the MQPS volunteers do not have.

The saloon windows needed varnishing, a difficult task  on a tidal mud berth. A small gap between the deck and hull plates needed to be sealed to reduce rusting. It was all work that needed specialist equipment and a safe working environment.

The starboard paddle box fascia was found to be in poor condition and this was removed for return to Gillingham on board Medway Queen for renovation in our MQPS workshops.

The most noticeable extra work is the promenade deck rails. Some of the stanchions were insecure, some were of a ‘temporary’ nature and all required a coat of paint. Stanchion fittings to the deck were getting at least some of the blame for hull side rust streaks and that had to be remedied.

As many as possible of the existing stanchions were, of course, reused but some replacements were needed where the originals had been lost years ago and these were cast by Bridport Foundry and delivered directly to Ramsgate.

Extra work has meant extra cost and a longer spell in dockyard hands than originally envisaged. That additional cost has been partly alleviated by our Saturday Team; while she was in Ramsgate Mark and Pam Bathurst, together with other team members, set up an information table near the ship to collect donations, sell books, give out information and recruit new members, with considerable success.

In 2022 MQPS will need to make additional efforts to increase revenue and donations from all sources. Medway Queen now looks magnificent in her new coats of paint, with the sign writing and lining out complete.

The Saturday Team plan to open to the public once more from February onwards, exact dates to be announced. She will be open on Saturdays, as before, from 11am to 4pm (last admissions 3pm) with the ‘Memories of Dunkirk’ exhibition in the lower aft saloon.

More information www.medwayqueen.co.uk

The New Medway Steam Packet Co. Ltd. Is UK registered charity 296236.

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