Medway Queen restoration update

Posted by Chris Graham on 17th May 2023

We report on the progress being made with the ongoing restoration of the 1923 paddle steamer, Medway Queen.

Medway Queen

Medway Queen tied up at Gillingham in the sunshine. (Pic: Martin Goodhew)

As the restoration of the 1923 paddle steamer Medway Queen continues, the major project in recent weeks has involved rebuilding the starboard paddle box fascia, which was found to be suffering from the effects of weather. In the position where Medway Queen is moored, little direct sun falls on the starboard side so it doesn’t always dry out properly between wet days, with inevitable results. The port side suffers much less as it’s in direct sunlight, whenever that’s available.

Timber for the reconstruction was purchased from Morgan’s Timber and delivered to the pier. Our volunteers produced a ‘lofted’, full-size drawing of the fascia in the workshop, and have created the necessary parts to produce the ‘fan’ around the central crest, which has also been recreated. From the lofted drawing, templates and jigs were prepared for individual components which were then cut and shaped as required.

As you’re reading this, the workshops are putting the finishing touches to the project. A revised assembly method has been devised to allow replacement of components in the future instead of always having to rebuild the complete assembly. A proper shop counter has also been built for the forward saloon, allowing us to move the souvenir and book shop on board.

The old paddle box fascia shows the damage due to weather. (Pic: Bob Wilde)

Forthcoming projects
The main project for early 2023 is the provision of onboard toilet facilities. With an ambition to use the ship as an event venue to raise money towards further restoration work; this provision is long overdue. Nipping across the road to toilets in the workshop is OK on a sunny, summer afternoon, but is certainly a less attractive prospect on a cold and wet winter evening! The onboard toilet project has been planned in great detail by one of the volunteers, and costed at £38,000 (including a contingency allowance).

Two substantial grants have been promised towards this and other work, but we still have to find the rest and we are, therefore, appealing to members and the public to help address the shortfall. All donations, no matter how large or small, will be gratefully received towards work on Medway Queen. Although we are reluctant to hold out the begging bowl (again), it’s a fact of life in historic vessel preservation that this is continually necessary.

Visit Medway Queen in 2023
PS Medway Queen is berthed on Gillingham Pier (ME7 1RX), and will be open to visitors in 2023, on Saturdays from January 29th. Guided ship tours are available at a reasonable cost from 11am to 4pm, with last admission at 3pm. There may be additional special events from time to time, announced on the website at:

The new paddle box fascia under construction. (Pic: Bob Wilde)

Come and visit this historic ship, and take the opportunity to inspect the new children’s book published in 2022, and the continuing series of model railway wagons for N and 00 gauges. A series of publications detailing the story of the ship in peace time and war is also available to visitors, and online. 

Next year, 2024, sees the centenary of PS Medway Queen and, in 2025, we’ll have another Dunkirk five-year anniversary to mark. The board is already discussing these milestones and additional ideas and contributions would be welcomed. Fund-raising and merchandise will, of course, play a part, but we want to mark both events in meaningful ways. Suggestions by email to will be welcomed; offers of help doubly so!

This news item comes from a recent issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to the magazine simply by clicking HERE


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