Author Topic: Paddle Steamers on Medway  (Read 316 times)

Offline MartinR

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2020, 09:57:41 PM »
  • Compound: the steam works first at high pressure in one cylinder, before passing to a low pressure cylinder to get more work out of it.  It's more efficient that doing all the expansion in one go.
  • Reciprocating: traditional to-and-fro with a crank, as opposed to a turbine.
  • Oscillating: the piston rods are attached directly to the crankshaft, and so the cylinders have to swing to-and-fro .  If you've ever seen a Mamod model, that's a oscillating cylinder.
All oscillating engines are reciprocating, but most reciprocating engines employ a crosshead (or in earlier ones a beam) to keep the piston rod running straight, and use a separate connecting rod.  IIRC, Waverley is oil fired.

Offline Archi93

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2020, 07:35:51 PM »
I've been on her a couple of times.  We lived for a while in Hathaway Court, down by the Esplanade in Rochester, and could hear her plaintive whistle as she maneuvered.  I'm trying to find a reference, but doesn't she have an oscillating engine? I've found an image on Wikicommons and there seems to be a crosshead, so they are not oscillators.
I've just found The Kingswear Castle souvenir guide book. It says the engine is a compound reciprocating steam engine. (Whatever that means!) It was rescued from an earlier Kingswear Castle built in 1904, the engine was then placed in the present Kingswear Castle which was built in 1924.The engine room and boiler room are combined, which was more common on continental paddlers than UK ones.The Kingswear Castle is reputed to be the last working coal fired paddle steamer in Britain. (not sure about The Waverley which used to be here too). She was restored from 1971 onwards and gained full Department of Transport Passenger Certificates in May 1985. A fitting tribute to all those who had restored her.

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2020, 02:13:01 PM »
Diapason. For want of something to do, I've just been looking back at this thread & note your fine photo' of the City of Rochester. Is she steaming ( or "smoking"!) up river with Gillingham cement works in the background? We used to walk along the river path there on our way to the Strand. p.s. Thank you Stuart for all your comments on restored/ renovated ships at the yard. Most interesting.

Offline Mike Gunnill

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2020, 10:22:28 AM »
The Kingswear Castle Paddle Steamer. Did any one go on The Kingswear Castle when it used to ply the Medway. It has now gone to the village of its name in Devon, Kingswear. Several years ago, we boarded The Kingswear Castle at Strood for an all day bird-watching cruise towards Sheerness. We were greeted on-board her with the delicious smell of hot bacon, served in baps. What a treat. I can just imagine the smell of warm bacon now. Photos are the cranks in the engine and the name board over her wheelhouse.




These paddle steamers remind me of my early days commuting from Hull to Barton on Humber. Pre Humber bridge of course. I remember the smell of bacon, always worked for me!

Mike Gunnill

< One Day More >

Offline MartinR

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2020, 10:19:24 PM »
I've been on her a couple of times.  We lived for a while in Hathaway Court, down by the Esplanade in Rochester, and could hear her plaintive whistle as she maneuvered.  I'm trying to find a reference, but doesn't she have an oscillating engine? I've found an image on Wikicommons and there seems to be a crosshead, so they are not oscillators.

Offline Archi93

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2020, 09:38:20 PM »
The Kingswear Castle Paddle Steamer. Did any one go on The Kingswear Castle when it used to ply the Medway. It has now gone to the village of its name in Devon, Kingswear. Several years ago, we boarded The Kingswear Castle at Strood for an all day bird-watching cruise towards Sheerness. We were greeted on-board her with the delicious smell of hot bacon, served in baps. What a treat. I can just imagine the smell of warm bacon now. Photos are the cranks in the engine and the name board over her wheelhouse.

Offline Archi93

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2020, 12:15:56 PM »
"City of Rochester" and so many other paddle steamers had so much open deck space for passengers, clearly not designed for torrential rain like we had last week! But such a pleasure to go up or down the Medway on.

Offline Diapason

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2020, 10:21:41 AM »
"The City of Rochester"

Can`t remember how I came by this photo.



Offline Lyn L

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2020, 10:48:45 AM »
I used to be able to see the John Amos from a window every day  when I was working in a school on New Road, felt quite sad when it was moved. What a sad old state now though.

Offline stuartwaters

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2020, 06:14:27 PM »
Pics of John H Amos on her pontoon as promised...
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Offline stuartwaters

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2020, 05:08:25 PM »
IF enough money could be found and it's a very big "IF", the John H Amos would probably have to undergo a very similar process to the Medway Queen. The Medway Queen at Gillingham Pier is not strictly the original vessel, rather (as I understand it) all of the original fixtures and fittings were stripped out of the original vessel and refitted into a new hull. This is one of the reasons why, under current rules, the "restored" Medway Queen at Gillingham Pier won't carry fare paying passengers. This is because and bear with me here, in order to get Lottery Funding, the new hull had to be built to the original plans. Therefore, the Department for Transport classify her as a new vessel, but being built to the original plans, she doesn't meet modern passenger-carrying safety standards.

This is the opposite situation to the Kingswear Castle, which used to run from Chatham Historic Dockyard. That vessel is as originally built, albeit with some modern safety aids such as liferafts added. Because she is an original heritage vessel rather than a replica of one, the Department for Transport have given her a passenger-carrying license. When I mentioned this on the old Forum, there were howls of protest from people connected with the Medway Queen Preservation Society, who would deny until the cows come home that the vessel at Gillingham Pier is a replica; they insisted that it is a restoration. The plain fact remains that it is no such thing. What you see at Gillingham Pier is, in fact, a new hull, built in Bristol a few years ago, which has had the engines and various fixtures and fittings from the original vessel built into it.

Back to the John H Amos then. That vessel was bought by her current owners with the intention of restoring her. This turned out to be rather more expensive than originally thought and the vessel has sat on that pontoon for many years, slowly deteriorating to the point where she is now beyond repair or restoration. The last time I was up close to her on that pontoon, her lower hull had collapsed where she is sat on blocks. The vessel had holes cut in the side to allow her to be lifted and was sat on the Graving Slip at Chatham for years with the tide flooding the hull twice a day. This has allowed her frames to rot and now that the whole weight of the vessel is resting on her keel, it's collapsed.

I did post some pictures on the old Forum and will have a trawl through my Imgur account to see if they're still there. If I find them, I'll post them.


As a final point, the restoration and repair of historic vessels is a hugely expensive business and always has been, which is why there are so few of them around. The most familiar examples are those vessels preserved at Chatham Historic Dockyard.  HMS Cavalier arrived at Chatham in 1997 or 1998. From then, to the point where I started work at Chatham Historic Dockyard in 2008, the Trust had spent some £8 million on her. Almost all of that money has been spent on making the vessel safe for visitors to visit and on a cosmetic restoration. She will never go to sea again. Millions have also been spent on HMS Gannet. That vessel, albeit impressive, is just a shell. Going aboard, the engines, or replicas of them a la SS Great Britain have yet to be built and installed as have all the internal fixtures and fittings. The upper decks, masts and most of the rigging have been restored, so that externally at least, she appears as she did on her deployment to the Red Sea, some ten years after she was launched at Sheerness in 1878. HMS Ocelot is the vessel which has needed the least attention. That vessel was acquired by the Trust very soon after decommissioning from the Royal Navy in 1991. The Royal Navy removed all the equipment which was classified at the time, the most obvious being her flank, bow and towed array sonar systems, but also the propellers too. Because submarines are very robustly built, HMS Ocelot has needed next to nothing in the way of restoration.
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Offline Archi93

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2020, 12:41:15 PM »
Wow. Thanks guys. What a story of so many people and organisations working together to rescue one ship. Great websites MartinR for all the photos over several years of her story.

Offline MartinR

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2020, 08:08:10 PM »
Yes, John H Amos.  See http://www.medwaymaritimetrust.org.uk/johnhamos/pages/thelift.htm  She's presently on a pontoon just north of the entrance locks to Chatham docks, https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.4052031,0.5500473,115m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1  She's an eyesore at the moment, there doesn't seem to be any work going on which is a pity.  I'm afraid though there is not a lot of her left, a restoration would be a virtual rebuild.

Offline Howardws

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Re: Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2020, 07:33:59 PM »
Paddle tug John H Amos. All sorts of info on her on the internet. If I remember correctly she was towed down from the North East by the steam tug Cervia that is in Ramsgate harbour.

Offline Archi93

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Paddle Steamers on Medway
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2020, 06:40:59 PM »
This photo of paddle steamer was taken July 2005,on the hard between Chatham Historic Dockyard and new Dockside outlet centre being built. You can see white bell tower behind it of Dockyard. Any idea which paddle steamer it is?