The hull of PS Medway Queen is nearing completion in the Albion Dockyard, Bristol. The yard has built the first fully riveted hull to be constructed in the UK for over 50 years and this phase of the restoration is now drawing to a close. The rebuild was supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. To mark the end of this phase of the project a re-dedication ceremony will be held at the dockyard on Saturday 27th July. This represents an eagerly awaited milestone in the restoration and it is also a significant event for engineering in the UK.
The Albion Dockyard (Hanover Place, Bristol BS1 6UT) is not far from the SS Great Britain, and will be open to the public from 12 noon on Saturday 27th July until approximately 5pm, admission free. A short re-dedication ceremony will be performed at approximately 2pm. After the usual speeches Evelyn, Emelia, and Elizabeth, daughters of Andrew Summerell (MD Albion Dockyard Ltd.), will re-dedicate the ship. The sluices will then be opened and flooding up of the dock will commence. This is a lengthy process and it is unlikely that the dock will be completely filled in the course of the afternoon. After the dedication it is hoped that members of the Medway Queen Preservation Society will be able to tour those parts of the ship that are safely accessible. All of these arrangements are subject to operational conditions at the yard remaining favourable of course. The weekend of the 27/28th July is also the Bristol Harbour Festival weekend, with a huge variety of interest and entertainment just a few minutes walk from the dockyard. Even more reason for coming to Bristol and wishing Medway Queen well.
The ship will not be leaving the dry dock immediately. There is more work to be done in preparation for the tow and then the tug has to be available and the weather outlook acceptable. When these conditions are all met the ship will be moved without further ceremony. Predicting exactly when this will happen is not possible but the MQPS website (www.medwayqueen.co.uk) has a page dedicated to the “tow home” and details will be posted there as they become clear.
It is intended that the ship’s arrival in Gillingham will also be marked in a suitable way but notice for this will be very short. The fitting out phase, supported by the EU Interreg IVA program under the "Heroes of the Two Seas" project, will then commence in earnest. As another of the series of events centred on the tow home the society’s Gillingham Pier workshops will be open to society members and to the public on all 4 days of the Heritage Open Days weekend of 12-15 September.