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Topical notes and archive about the SBA and the world of steamboats

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  • 15 May 2014 21:16 | Anonymous member
    undefinedScottish and North Western Members enjoyed a memorable weekend cruise up the Falkirk Wheel and on the Union Canal to Linlithgow on the 2nd and 3rd of May.   A professional photographer, Nils Härtel, joined the trip and you can see his album of pictures here.
  • 13 Feb 2014 18:58 | Deleted user
    In 2002 Alister Hodgson-Jones bought the Pussy Willow from Kester Shave and had the boat brought from its construction base to Northamptonshire, to be initially stored in a compound near Thrapston.

    The ensuing weeks saw the engine removed into the riverside workshop, fettled and tested with compressed air. Under these conditions, out of the boat, the engine ran satisfactorily. The boiler was the next to receive attention. Despite never having been fired up since being removed from the Glenrosa, the tubes were not in the best of condition and, although probably serviceable, were replaced in the Islip workshop. In addition, the crankshaft supplied with the boat was defective and a new one was machined from a large steel billet.

     To round off the story to date, some internal refurbishment took place but then, with business and family commitments creating increasing demands on the owner, tools were laid down and for more years than the owner likes to admit, the boat has remained forlorn and partially restored – AGAIN.

    Now, forward to Thursday 24th October 2013, Chilford Hall Vineyard and a chance meeting over a nice lunch and a glass of the local vino …. and a mutual interest in steam. Owner Alister Hodgson-Jones sees potential in new retiree, Philip Lawton, to kick start the project back into life. A second meeting, again over a nice lunch but in a restaurant closer to home, the new found friends lay the foundation to bring Pussy Willow to life.

    You can follow their progress on their blog: http://steamlaunchpw.wordpress.com
  • 03 Nov 2013 17:43 | Deleted user

    In May, my husband and I set off for a rather unusual holiday - aboard the VIC 32, the last seagoing coal fired steam 'Clyde Puffer'. She was built in 1943 and has been well known for the last 30 years on the West Coast of Scotland.


    We were to arrive at Ardishaig to board the boat, and as we got off the coach, we had to walk a little way before we spotted her.  We were welcomed aboard and given a tour, and taken to our little cabin tucked up near the front of the boat (or should that be bow?) and warned that it does leak sometimes!  As it was a slightly damp day, we warmed ourselves by the huge woodburning stove in the galley, as the rest of the passengers arrived (12 in total). 


    Most of them had been before, and couldn't resist coming back, as Nic the skipper informed us.  We met Lyle the engineer, whom Kingsley was to spend many hours with, down in the engine room!  And then there was the cook and galley slave who provided us with the most delicious meals and homemade cake and bread all week. 


    We set off the following day to Tarbert, and braved the weather by standing on deck to look at the view, and see the billows of black smoke leaving a big trail behind us, wonderful!  At Tarbert, we stopped off next to a rather large pile of coal, and were told we had to shovel it all into the bunkers!  Off we got, picked up the shovels and wheelbarrows, and got to it!  Thankfully, we didn't have to the shovel the whole pile!


    Throughout the week we gradually meandered our way back to Glasgow, stopping at various places including Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, Greenock and visits to Holy and Gare Loch. 


    The scenery was beautiful (when you could see it through the clouds!) and was made all the more special by being on such a historic and interesting boat, powered by steam.


    Kingsley enjoyed chatting to Lyle and helping out in the engine room, and even stoking the boiler (which I also did once!). We soon found that the two entrances to the engine room were the warmest places to sit, so often you would see 1 or 2 of us sat at the top of the steps reading and enjoying the warmth from the boiler.  It was also a useful place to put the bread dough to rise!


    I enjoyed a bit of bird watching, and we also saw some porpoises one day.  Nic encouraged everyone to have a go up in the wheel house, needless to say my steering was a little bit wonky, but I got the hang of it in the end!  It did get a bit crowded in the wheelhouse at times, as it was a popular spot to shelter from the weather.


    One of the highlights of the week was visiting the Isle of Bute.  We wandered around Rothesey in the morning, and hired a tandem in the afternoon and cycled around the island, visiting the ruins of St. Blane's church.  We were urged by Nic to visit the old toilets just by the harbour, and I had to wait for the men to leave to have a nose at the highly decorated urinals!


    That evening we anchored off shore, and enjoyed listening to the waves lapping against the side of the boat as we drifted off to sleep.

    Nic was a character, to say the least, and had many interesting stories to tell, and kept us all entertained.  Whilst we were moored up at Greenock, we were able to have a tour under the Waverley, which was in the dry dock, being prepared for the summer season, before having a tour of the wheel house and the engine room.


    We also stopped off to visit the Titan Crane at Clydebank, not for those scared of heights, but great views from the top!  We finished up in Glasgow, with lots of memories, and keen to go again next year!


    You can find out more about VIC 32 and holidays aboard on their website.


  • 31 Oct 2013 15:12 | Deleted user

    The Medway Queen has moved to Avon Mouth, so she can be ready to leave Bristol where the hull has been rebuilt and be towed to Gillingham for her return to the River Medway as soon as the weather allows.


    You can find out more about the history of the Medway Queen and the work of the preservation society on their website. Photo's by Philip Clark.



  • 03 Aug 2013 10:07 | Deleted user
    Medway Queen - Bottle. Photo by Richard AbelsVisitors were welcomed to the Albion Dockyard in Hanover Place, Bristol from 12 noon and a short re-dedication ceremony commenced soon after 2pm with Project Manager Bob Stokes acting as Master of Ceremonies.

    After speeches by Councillor Faruk Choudhury (the Lord Mayor of Bristol), Marshall Vine (MQPS President), Brian Burton (MQPS Chairman) and David Abels of the Albion Dockyard the traditional bottle of champagne was cracked on the ship’s bow by Evelyn, Emelia, and Elizabeth, daughters of Andrew Summerell (MD Albion Dockyard Ltd.).

    A gathering of vessels of the Steam Boat Association waiting outside the dry dock then gave a rousing whistle salute which was followed by the National Anthem and a further prolonged whistle salute. The ceremonial party also included Sir William and Lady McAlpine, John and Noreen Chambers (MQPS Vice Presidents), Lucy Perry (representing the Heritage Lottery Fund), John Kempton   (MQPS Vice Chairman) and representatives from The Merchant Navy Association. The ceremony was witnessed by over 1000 visitors and guests.

    Medway Queen - SBA flotilla. Photo by Richard AbelsThe Albion Dockyard band performed beautifully from the fore deck of Medway Queen herself, both before and after the ceremony. The band previously played at nearly all the launches at the Albion Dockyard since 1942, when the yard was operated by Charles Hill and Sons until its merger with the Potterswood Band in 1966. It also performed at a ceremony marking the start of Medway Queen’s rebuild in 2009.

    The event proved a popular one. Besides society members who came on a weekend coach trip to Bristol from Gillingham in Kent, enthusiasts from all over the UK and many Bristol residents came to the yard to see the ship pass this milestone in her restoration. Before the ceremony they were able to admire this historic vessel in her pristine new coat of paint and discuss her history with members of the society.

    Medway Queen’s story includes seaside excursions, wartime minesweeping and the Dunkirk Evacuation as well as a rather different reputation as a nightclub on the Isle of Wight in the 1960s. Souvenirs, books and draw tickets were on sale and the inevitable collecting boxes were filled beyond expectation. Several new members were welcomed into the society.

    The ceremonial party and guests assembled on board and were given a tour of the ship by Andrew Summerell before the main event. Afterwards, members of the Medway Queen Preservation Society and the public were allowed on board to admire the work done so far and to appreciate how much remains to be done.Medway Queen- Capacity croud. Photo by Richard Abels

    The hull rebuild and the establishment of the society’s apprentice training workshops on Gillingham Pier have been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and funding from the European Regional Development Fund via the INTERREG IVA 2 Seas Programme. The ceremony marked the end of this major phase of the ship’s restoration and the beginning of the refit to working order.

    The timescale in which this refit can be achieved is entirely dependent on the success of the society’s fund raising and to that end grants, sponsorship and individual donations are all being sought. The priority areas are the upper aft saloon as a dining space and the engine room as a visitor attraction and the central part of any working vessel. A new boiler will be required for which the society does not yet have funding. Any offers of help in cash or in kind would be welcomed at the Medway Queen Project Office, Gillingham Pier, Gillingham. ME7 1RX.

    Medway Queen - Sluices Open. Photo by Richard Abels.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 details will be posted on www.medwayqueen.co.uk 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 will then commence in earnest.

    Further events celebrating the tow home include a Music Festival on 7th September and 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.

    Details of both events will be posted on their website.

    All photo's by Richard Abels.
  • 20 Jul 2013 09:35 | Deleted user
    Silvie launch
    The first completed SYLVIE class launch, as featured in FUNNEL 157 pg.22 and 78, has now been successfully launched.


    Four others are under construction, one being professionally fitted out as a hull ready for plant to be fitted ( steam, electric or IC) and will be available very shortly.

    Further details and specifications for this hull are available from Richard Havard (see Funnel or members directory for contact details).
  • 01 Jul 2013 12:14 | Deleted user

    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.

  • 13 Jun 2013 12:29 | Deleted user

    Congratulations go to SBA member John Tilley for winning the Trophy for the most innovative entry in Watercraft Magazine's Cordless Canoe Challenge held at this years Beale Park Boat Show. 

     

    John's entry Whimsy is a boat  that doubles as a motor bike sidecar. You can watch Whimsy in action in the following video:

     

     

  • 13 May 2013 17:42 | Deleted user
    The historic steam tug Kerne celebrates her centenary in 2013 and is to undertake a series of sailings to mark this achievement. 

    Completed at Montrose, Scotland in 1913 as the Viking the Kerne was acquired by the Admiralty and deployed in Chatham Dockyard after being renamed the Terrier, serving the Navy through both World Wars.  On her release by the Admiralty in 1948 she was bought by J.P. Knight Ltd. of London, renamed Kerne and sold to the Straits Steamship Company Limited ( a subsidiary of the Liverpool  Lighterage Co. Ltd ) to operate on the River Mersey and in Liverpool Docks where she worked until April 1971 when she was superseded by diesel power.  The Kerne was bought by a group of enthusiasts in September1971 who have maintained her in operating condition for 42 years, dedicating much time and effort into preserving and operating this now unique coal fired steam ship.  The Kerne can be seen in steam, travelling along the waterways of the North West of England and open to the public in the spring and summer months.

    The following Centenary Sailing Programme is planned for 2013 :-

    Centenary celebration event


    To be held at the Leigh Arms, Acton Bridge, on the Weaver Navigation in Cheshire on Saturday 18th May 2013 and Sunday 19th May 2013.   The Kerne will be on public display along with a display of George Coles, Clayton and Shuttleworth Steam Traction Engine and Alan Porters, Burrell Steam Roller in a triple centenary celebration.  The Kerne will be moored on the quay of the Weaver Navigation adjacent to the Leigh Arms.  This event has been organised jointly by the Kerne Preservation Society and the management of the Leigh Arms who will have available their excellent food and Celebration Steam Beer, making for a party atmosphere.

    Battle of the Atlantic 


    This commemorative event is to be staged from the 24th to the 27th May in Canning Dock Liverpool, in the vicinity of the Mersey Maritime Museum.  It is a tribute to the Tug Boat crews who undertook the perils of the Atlantic in World War 2 to recover the damaged and broken convoy ships, often with only the basic navigation aids available to them and with little protection against U Boat attack.  The event is staged by Liverpool City Council.   Kerne has been invited to participate in the River Mersey parade of participating naval vessels, departing from the port on Tuesday May 28th at the conclusion of the celebrations.

    Mersey River Festival


    To be held from the 7th to the 9th of June, the river festival is to include a variety of narrow boats, sailing and power vessels from the 19th and 20th Century, with both static displays and sailings in the River Mersey.  The event will be centred on the Albert Docks with the Kerne open to visitors in Canning Dock.

    Passage to Manchester


    During the week commencing the 11th August it is planned to sail the Kerne along the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal to Salford Quays and moor on the public quay adjacent to the Lowry Centre and Media City. Visitors are welcome on board over the weekend of the 17th and 18th August.  Details of sailing and opening times will be published of the Kerne web site in due course.

    Birkenhead Transport Festival


    The festival is to be held on the 14th and 15th of September.   Details of the content and programme will be published by the organisers and available on the Kerne web site in due course.
     
    The Kerne website www.tugkerne.co.uk will provide further details of each event in due course.

  • 07 Apr 2013 10:32 | Deleted user
    Lots of useful information on launch sites and slipways in the UK or Europe can be found on the Boatlaunch website.

    Information on the slipways on the River Thames is also available on the Electric Boat Association's website.
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