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Cruise Destination - Chatham and the Medway Towns

Chatham was once the home of Tudor warship building and the birthplace of Nelson’s HMS VICTORY. Chatham's Dockyard and its defences have an unrivalled and illustrious history and is the world's most complete example of an historic dockyard from the age of sail and early age of steam. It was also instrumental in securing and maintaining Britain's worldwide influence, leading the world in industrial design, naval architecture and military technology.
by Alexander Naughton
edit by Earl of Cruise
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Cruise destination Chatham, Kent - Source: Wikipedia (original size)
Chatham lies on the Medway in Kent, to the south side of the Thames estuary. The Medway is the longest river in Kent. No one is sure how it got its name, but it is probably taken from the Anglo-Saxon words for ‘middle way’, because the river seems to cut the north of the county in two.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway

In the mid-17th century, Chatham was the Royal Navy's main fleet base, and heightened fear of invasion (following the 1667 Dutch Raid) led to significant investment in fortified land defences. Fort Amherst and the Chatham Lines - a major network of ditches, tunnels, underground stores, barracks, and gun emplacements - were begun in 1756. Its greatest challenge was the Dutch raid in 1667.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Chatham, Fort Amherst, outer defense - Sourece: Wikipedia (original size)
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Upnor Castle, Source: Roaming Required
The Dutch raid along the River Medway in June 1667 was carried out over several days. It targeted the English fleet at Chatham, leaving a large section of the Royal Navy either captured or destroyed. There were few casualties, but the loss of the realm's largest warships brought humiliation to the country and damaged the personal reputation of King Charles II. For the Dutch you could say it was the high water mark of Dutch naval power. The attack brought enemy ships right into the heart of the England’s main naval base. The Dutch fleet, under the command of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, attacked and burnt the new fort at Sheerness, at the mouth of the Medway. The leading Dutch ships then headed upstream. They broke through the chain that stretched across the water between Gillingham and Hoo Ness. The attack saw the English fleet flagship the ROYAL CHARLES towed away as a trophy. After a night spent at anchor, more Dutch ships pressed on towards Chatham. On 13 June they fought with the castle at Upnor, and were forced to turn back, although not before they had damaged a number of English ships. Even though the castle prevented an attack on the Dockyard, the Dutch Raid was a terrible defeat for the English navy. For the English it was the third in a trio of disasters to befall the nation following on from the Great Plague and Great Fire of London. It was the last time that enemy forces actually landed in the UK. It created such panic in London that people sent their most valued possessions out of the city, fearing imminent occupation by Dutch forces. However today the Battle of the Medway is little known in the UK and in 2017 it marks its 350th anniversary with special events at the Chatham Historic Dockyard and the Guildhall Museum.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Battle of Medway, Dutch painting, Source: deruyter.org

From the mid 18thcentury, fleet anchorage moved westwards down the English Channel, and Chatham took on new significance as a centre for shipbuilding and repair. This led to a vast array of new dockyard facilities, and a resultant increase in facilities for the rapidly-increasing military and civilian workforces (at Brompton Barracks and Brompton Village), as well as the refortification of the Chatham Lines.

Chatham Dockyard and its Defences is an outstanding example of a complete industrial military complex from the heyday of the age of sail (1700 to 1820) and the early period of the age of steam (1820 to 1865).

During this period Chatham Dockyard was one of the foremost naval shipbuilding and repair yards in the world, protected by sizeable military fortifications and barracks. It played an instrumental role in enabling Britain to achieve naval supremacy and exertpolitical, economic and cultural influence on a world stage.

This was at a time when such dockyards were the largest industrial centres in the world. Their contribution at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution is represented by the significant investment in the naval and defensive facilities at Chatham during this period. Today, the range of buildings and structures at Chatham Dockyard collectively exhibit a superlative survival - in marked contrast to the other leading dockyards of the day. It is this completeness, of both function and survival, which makes Chatham Dockyard and its Defences unique.

The key heritage sites around the area of Chatham include:

  •  
the River Medway (the determining factor for the location of the Dockyard)

  •  
Chatham Historic Dockyard (including dry docks; covered slips; facilities for the manufacture and processing of rope, timber, sails, lead, paint, iron and steel; storage; administrative and residential areas)

  •  
Brompton Barracks (home to the Royal Engineers)

  •  
Brompton Village (founded to serve the needs of the naval, army and civilian personnel)

  •  
Fort Amherst and the Chatham Lines (the continuous permanent artillery fortifications and associated Field of Fire)

  •  
Kitchener Barracks (on the site of the 1757 Infantry Barracks used for recruitment of soldiers for overseas service and for those defending the Chatham Lines)

  •  
Old Gun Wharf (the major ordnance depot)

  •  
Upnor Castle, Barracks and Ordnance Depot (central to the storage of gunpowder for the navy and army).

In addition to shipbuilding and the naval base the Medway was home to other industries. Two Medway businesses became world famous: Aveling and Porter and Short Brothers. Thomas Aveling set up a repair shop in Rochester in 1851, to help local farmers maintain the new machines that were starting to become popular. In 1860 he moved to the banks of the river in Strood. He started to produce road-going steam engines that could move themselves from place to place instead of having to be dragged by horses. With his partner, Richard Porter, he built his business up until it had become the largest traction engine factory the world had ever seen. The company became the largest manufacturer of steam rollers in the world. In 1933 the company following various mergers (by then it was called Aveling-Barford) moved to Grantham and left its Strood site.

Short Brothers were one of the very first aircraft manufacturers. They moved to Rochester in 1913 because they were interested in building seaplanes and wanted to use the River Medway as a runway. For more than 30 years their flying boats were a familiar sight, tearing up and down the river between Rochester Bridge and what is today the site of the M2 motorway.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Rochester Cathedral - Source: Wikipedia
During the 1920s and 1930s, as more and more people began to travel round the world, Short’s aeroplanes were bought by airlines because they could land in countries where there were no airports.

Each one was built in the factory on the esplanade and launched down a slipway into the river. Later the company also started to build land planes at Rochester airport. During the Second World War the Short Sunderland became one of the Royal Air Force’s best-known large aircraft, sinking enemy submarines and landing on the sea to rescue survivors.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
SHORT SUNDERLAND Mk V - Source: Wikipedia
Short Brothers closed their Rochester factory and moved to Belfast in 1948.

The Medway also has a strong association with Thames Sailing Barges. The Medway was thick with barges in the 19th century. They were the delivery lorries of the time, taking hundreds of tons of bricks and cement up to London and bringing back waste materials to burn in the brick fields and the factory furnaces. There was always competition, with barge captains challenging each other to races along the estuary. Organised barge races began on the River Thames in 1863. They were set up by a man called Henry Dodd, who had made a fortune out of rubbish collection and brick making. He thought that the design of barges could be improved if they were made to win races, as well as carry lots of cargo. He also wanted to encourage the barge captains to be proud of what they did.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Thames barge, EDITH MAY, sailing on topsail alone on the River Medway - Source: Wikipedia

All this attracted lots of interest from people working on the River Medway. Some of the big brick and cement companies owned large numbers of barges, and they began to arrange their own races. Out of these grew the first official open barge match on the Medway, which took place in 1880. The usual course was between Gillingham and Sun Pier, in Chatham. Racing continued until the outbreak of war in 1914 and then, after a pause, fairly regularly until competition was again stopped, this time by the Second World War in 1939.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Looking from the river at Sun Pier along the Great Barrier Ditch, to the Gun Platforms at Fort Amherst - Source: Wikipedia
The fastest barges became quite well known and the owners were very proud of them. Competition was fierce, with SARA, built by Everard’s on the Thames, winning races throughout the 1930s on the Medway. In 1955, the London and Rochester Trading Company’s barge, SIRDAR, appeared to have finally got the better of SARA and EVERARD’s began refitting an old barge, VERONICA, to make it faster and take the title back. All this cost money. In 1963, the owners had finally had enough and withdrew their support for racing. Most of the company barges were scrapped, although a good number of historic Thames Sailing Barges survive today.

Luckily, a number of private owners decided to continue the tradition of barge racing on the River Medway. Today an annual Medway Barge Match attracts about twelve barges each year competing in three different classes. The race covers almost thirty miles, from Gillingham out into the estuary and back again. Races also take place on the River Thames at Gravesend, the River Blackwater at Maldon, Essex and on the River Swale at Faversham.

The mouth of the Medway, where the river meets the Thames, provides good conditions for the mooring of very large ships. These include container ships that bring large amounts of cargo to Kent by sea.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Major rivers in Kent - Source: Wikipedia
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
The Old Town Hall (opened in 1900) now serves as a theatre - Source: Wikipedia
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Grain Crurch - Source: Wikipedia
The Isle of Grain (Old English Greon, meaning gravel) lies at the end of the Hoo Peninsula, (Hoo is the Old English word for spur of land) right at the mouth of the River Medway. In 1989 part of the old oil refinery here was converted into the LondonThamesport Container Terminal. Thamesport is one of the largest and busiest ports in the United Kingdom. It is the country’s only fully automatic container terminal. This means that its 655 metres of quayside are equipped with driverless cranes to move the containers around the port. The position of each container is tracked by the very latest computer systems. London Thamesport, a member of the Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) Group, is a modern, automated container port located at the mouth of the River Medway in the Thames estuary. It has a rail connection enabling containers to be taken by train to destinations across the UK. However in recent years it has faced stiff competition from other ports in the South East including Southampton, Felixstowe, London Gateway and London Tilbury.

Also there is the London Medway port cluster owned by Peel Ports. The ports of Sheerness and Chatham form the core terminals of Peel Ports’ London Medway cluster, named to reflect how close they are to the capital. They are the statutory harbour authority along a 27.3 mile stretch of the Rivers Medway and Swale. This port cluster handles a wide variety of cargos. The river Medway has the largest catchment area in Southern England and its reach and strategic location give it an influence that’s even greater. Positioned on the Thames Estuary, closer than Tilbury to Dover and within easy reach of Northern Europe, it also has deep-water access, which is perfect for ships of varying sizes coming from everywhere in the world.

Cruise Port of Call

Chatham Docks (part of London Medway port cluster) was also a popular calling point for cruise passengers. Back in the 1950s, the MEDWAY QUEEN allowed locals a day trip from Sun Pier to Southend and Herne Bay in the days when for many people a week’s holiday away from home remained a dream.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
ps MEDWAY QUEEN  at Gillingham Pier 2016 - Source: Wikipedia
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
ps MEDWAY QUEEN seen at Southend in 1960 in a photo kindly supplied by Gillon Ferguson - Source: Paddlesteamers.info
A revival of Chatham’s cruise industry could also have a positive knock on effect on the local economy, bringing visitors to the area who spend money in Chatham, helping to sustain and create local jobs. Conservative estimates show that each passenger contributes £80 to the local economy every time they go on land.

The Destination

Chatham Dockyard bears exceptional testimony to the array of shipbuilding and repair facilities which were the result of massive investment in the Royal Navy and to the rapid evolution in technology, architecture and working practices made possible by this investment. Chatham Dockyard and its Defences is an outstanding example of a complete industrial military complex from the heyday of the age of sail (1700 - 1820) and the early period of the age of steam (1820- 1865).
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Topographic model, Royal Dockyard at Chatham by William Phillips - Source:  Royal Museums Greenwich
In its early days, dockyards such as Chatham were the largest industrial centres in the world. Today the range of buildings and structures collectively exhibit a superlative survival. It is this completeness of both function and survival which makes the site exceptional as an unrivalled demonstration of the interchange of ideas on industrial, naval and military technology and architecture. Chatham is exceptional testimony both to the long history of investment by European nations in naval power to dominate global trade and shape international geopolitics, and also to the significant stage of history in which superiority at sea was transformed into territorial and commercial advantage.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
The dockyard buildings, such as the ropery and the covered slips, the ordnance facilities, the fortifications and barrack accommodation for the soldiers all demonstrate the industrial-scale investment, sustained technological innovation and development of defensive techniques, necessary to support a major naval and colonial power.

The area includes over 60 scheduled ancient monuments and 150 listed buildings, covering the Historic Dockyard, Fort Amherst, Upnor Castle, Brompton Village and Barracks, The Royal Engineers Museum (Wiki), the Great Lines and the River Medway.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
At the core of the area is the Dockyard and its associated facilities, and these were protected by major fortifications and barracks. The huge scale of investment needed to achieve world naval dominance during the 18th and 19th centuries is evidenced at Chatham by the complexity and size of the Dockyard and the diversity of structures from a variety of dates. The change to iron ship construction was necessitated by the desire to sustain British naval dominance, extend colonial influence and consolidate control of trade, and was facilitated by the British industrial revolution. It is represented by new types of structures at Chatham, principally the covered slips, and by investment in lengthening of dry docks and the construction of new buildings for mechanised production. As a strategic resource of great significance, the Dockyard had to be defended from attack. The increasing scale and complexity of the fortifications and the defence landscape represent a period when international politics created fear of invasion, and thus massive investment in home defence.

Alongside the Dockyard and its defences, other essential facilities grew up. These include the ordnance facilities for supply of armaments and gunpowder, and the barracks for the army that served the defensive garrison and acted as recruiting depots for troops on overseas service. The final essential ingredient in making this system work was the civilian labour force of the Dockyard. The area includes the settlement of Brompton which was created specifically to serve the navy and the military, and where much of the Dockyard workforce lived.

Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Upnor Castle, constructed in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I. - Source: English Heritage
Upnor Castle was an integral part of the Royal Dockyard complex. It was built in 1559-67 as the first principal defensive structure for the fleet when anchored in the River Medway.  After the Dutch Raid (1667) it took on a new role as the main powder magazine for the Ordnance Board at Chatham. Powder had to be stored remotely from the dockyard and Gun Wharf in order to limit the chance of catastrophic accidents at either site. The ordnance function expanded significantly during the Napoleonic wars when a major magazine (now demolished) was constructed to the north of the castle (1806). A further magazine was constructed in 1856.

Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Fort Amherst, Chatham - screenshott from youtube
Fort Amherst is a scheduled monument within the Brompton Lines Conservation Area and is the most complete Napoleonic fortification in Britain. It occupies a highly prominent position at the southern end of the defensive lines on the escarpment that rises high above Chatham and the Chatham Reach bend of the river Medway. Its primary purpose was the defence of the naval dockyard and it was developed as a stronghold to command the river and the approach from the south.

Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Inside Rochester Castle's grounds showing the keep as seen from the north-west; clearly depicting the castle's proximity to Rochester Cathedral. - Sourece: Wikipedia
Historic Rochester, with its Norman castle was place cherished by the Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens, who lived in the area as a child and returned as a successful author. With history dating back centuries, there is so much to see and do in the historic city itself. Explore the stunning Rochester Cathedral, founded in 604 and the second oldest in England. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the top of one of the tallest keeps in the Country at the magnificent Rochester Castle which is built on the highest part of Rochester’s Roman citywall, to defend the crossing of the River Medway.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Guildhall Museum - Source: Best of England
Dickens’ most impressionable childhood days were spent in Medway. Historic Rochester inspired the author so much that he featured it in his work more than any city, other than London.  Many of the buildings that featured in the works of Dickens can still be seen today. These include Restoration House, used in Dickens’ novel ‘Great Expectations’ as the home of Estella and Miss Havisham, The Poor Travellers House, immortalised by the author in a Christmas short story and the impressive Guildhall Museum of local history. At the museum, visitors can learn more about the author and his works in the Dickens Discovery Room via a multi-lingual touch screen technology and film.

Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Gillingham, High Street - Source: Wikipedia
Gillingham has strong maritime and military connections with the nearby Historic Dockyard in Chatham and Royal Engineers barracks based in the town. To learn about the bravery or our soldier engineers from 1066 to the present day, a visit to the Royal Engineers Museum is a must.

The museum is Kent’s only designated museum of national importance and has many galleries, displays of military tanks, torpedoes, jump jets and exceptional items including Duke ofWellington’s battlemap used in the Battle of Waterloo.

Gillingham is also the birthplace of the Elizabethan seafarer, William Adams who founded the first Japanese navy and made famous of James’ Clavell’s novel Shogan.

Today the town is twinned with the cities of Ito and Yokosuka in Japan (Wikitravel) and every September celebrates these connections and the life of seafarer at the Will AdamsFestival.

Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Gillingham Pier - Source: google maps
Gillingham Pier is now home to MEDWAY QUEEN. During the Second World War the ship was requisitioned and converted to a minesweeper, initially operating out of Dover. This resulted in her nickname as the Heroine of Dunkirk.

Historically Chatham Docks is well known for its long history of shipbuilding. Since opening in 1664, hundreds of famous warships, vessels and submarines, including HMS VICTORY, have been built or restored at Chatham.

Top 8 “Must See Sights” of Chatham

In this section we outline some of the sights and attractions that no visit to Chatham would be complete without going to visit:

·        VISIT CHATHAM HISTORIC DOCKYARD

Chatham's Dockyard and its defences have an unrivalled and illustrious history and is the world's most complete example of an historic dockyard from the age of sail and early age of steam. It was also instrumental in securing and maintaining Britain's worldwide influence, leading the world in industrial design, naval architecture and military technology.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Aerial view od Chatham Dockyards - Sourece: Godfrey Dykes Info
Nowhere is the experience of life during the heyday of the age of sail more alive than in the Age of Sail galleries. Discover how ships, including HMS VICTORY, were designed and built. Immerse yourself in the vivid Hearts of Oak audio visual gallery and explore four superb new interactive galleries – ‘Command of the Oceans’.
 
Youtube video
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Hearts of Oak audio visual gallery - Source: Vimeo
Command of the Oceans reveals the full dockyard story, thrilling archaeology and long-hidden objects for the first time. It tells powerful, compelling stories of innovation and craftsmanship. It shows how Chatham Dockyard and its people helped lead Britain to worldwide influence. It features two internationally significant maritime archaeological discoveries – the timbers of the Namur (1756), intriguingly laid to rest beneath the floor of the old Wheelwrights’ workshop, and an incredible treasure trove of archaeological objects recovered from the sea bed, from the Invincible (1758).

The 19th and 20th century represented times of great change at Chatham Dockyard, the Steam, Steel and Submarines gallery is used to explore this defining period of power, strength and adaption to new technology. Chatham Dockyard, along with the Chatham Port Division of the Royal Navy played a central role in many of the 19th and 20th centuries major conflicts, without their contribution would Britain have been able to maintain such important global influence?

Nowhere can you get a sense of how British maritime innovation, engineering and design broke the mould than on our three historic warships. From the moment you see them and as you walk the decks you will sense the vision, grit and hard work that created them and the courage, determination and endurance of the sailors who sailed them. A visit to their three Historic Warships will allow you to discover what life was really like onboard a Victorian sloop (HMS GANNET), a WW2 Destroyer (HMS CAVALIER) and Cold War submarine (HMS OCELOT). 

At Chatham you can also explore the Victorian Ropery. Rope has been made at Chatham Dockyard for almost 400 years and its rope, still made on the Ropewalk, has been used to rig the mightiest vessels ever to take to sea. Today Chatham is the only one of the original four Royal Navy Ropeyards to remain in operation and together with its related buildings forms the finest integrated group of 18th century manufacturing buildings in Britain.

At Chatham you can also find the RNLI Historic Lifeboat Collection which is the UK’s largest collection of historic RNLI Lifeboats. From an 1897 pulling and sailing lifeboat, to the familiar Arun class and Blue Peter inflatable inshore vessels, visitors can explore how lifeboats have changed over the last century through interactive displays, archive film and audio clips.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Arun Class Lifeboat - Source: Wikipedia
Finally a treasure house of maritime treats, No.1 Smithery is a joint project between the Chatham  Historic Dockyard Trust, Royal Museums Greenwich and Imperial War Museums that encourages visitors to unearth incredible stories through objects, paintings and play. No.1 Smithery is also home to National Museums: Collection and Research, a state-of-the-art, environmentally controlled storage space for over 3,000 models and artefacts. At the heart of No.1 Smithery is The Courtyard, a large open space that allows visitors to view most of the original building with its huge anchor pits, chimneys and rugged industrial feel.

·       VISIT FORT AMHERST

Fort Amherst is a scheduled monument within the Brompton Lines Conservation Area and is the most complete Napoleonic fortification in Britain. It occupies a highly prominent position at the southern end of the defensive lines on the escarpment that rises high above Chatham and the Chatham Reach bend of the river Medway. Its primary purpose was the defence of the naval dockyard and it was developed as a stronghold to command the river and the approach from the south.

·       VISIT UPNOR CASTLE

Upnor Castle was an integral part of the Royal Dockyard complex. It was built in 1559-67 as the first principal defensive structure for the fleet when anchored in the River Medway.  After the Dutch Raid (1667) it took on a new role as the main powder magazine for the Ordnance Board at Chatham. Today it is managed by English Heritage and is open as a visitor attraction.

·      VISIT ROCHESTER CATHEDRAL

Rochester Cathedral is England's second oldest cathedral, having been founded in 604AD by Bishop Justus. The present building dates back to the work of the French monk, Gundulf, in 1080. The glorious Norman architecture of the nave, parts of the crypt, as well as one of the finest Romanesque facades in England, make this an inspirational place to visit. The Cathedral is blessed with some fine examples of later Gothic styles as well as the magnificent 14th century Chapter Library door.  Hidden from view (although it can be viewed by special appointment) is one of the oldest doors in England.

The Cathedral became a major place of pilgrimage in the 13th century, following the death of William of Perth, a Scottish baker who was murdered nearby. His body was brought to the Cathedral and at his shrine, of which no trace remains, miracles were reported.  Modern pilgrims who journey to the Cathedral still climb the Pilgrim Steps, now worn by the many thousands of medieval pilgrims visiting the shrine, often lighting candles at the William of Perth prayer-station in front of the oratory.  Visitors who journey to the Cathedral today a re direct descendents of those early pilgrims.

It is also home to John the Baptist’s Fresco. This was the first real fresco to be created in an English Cathedral for 800 years and was dedicated on St John the Baptist's Day 2004. The fresco is on the theme of baptism. Its creation is the first step towards creating a baptistery in the north nave transept. The fresco was painted by Sergei Fyodorov, the Russian iconographer, and the richness and size of this narrative painting draws visitors from near and far; some to admire its artistry, and others to use it as a focus of meditation and prayer.

·        VISIT ROCHESTER CASTLE

Strategically placed astride the London Road, guarding an important crossing of the River Medway, Rochester Castle has a complex history of destruction and rebuilding. Today it stands as a proud reminder of the history of Rochester along with the cathedral and cobbled streets. Its Norman tower-keep of Kentish ragstone was built about 1127 by William of Corbeil, Archbishop of Canterbury, with the encouragement of Henry I. Consisting of three floors above a basement, it still stands 113 feet high. Attached is a tall protruding forebuilding, with its own set of defences to pass through before the keep itself could be entered at first floor level.
In 1215, garrisoned by rebel barons, the castle endured an epic siege by King John. Having first undermined the outer wall, John used the fat of 40 pigs to fire a mine under the keep, bringing its southern corner crashing down. Even then the defenders held on, until they were eventually starved out after resisting for two months.
Rebuilt under Henry III and Edward I, the castle remained as a viable fortress until the 16th century. Today it is managed by English Heritage as an attraction.

·       VISIT THE ps MEDWAY QUEEN (Heroine of Dunkirk)

MEDWAY QUEEN was ordered in 1923 and entered service on the Strood-Chatham-Southend-Herne Bay route the following year. With occasional excursions elsewhere she served on the same route until the beginning of the Second World War. Chatham Navy week was an annual highlight and in 1937 the ship ran an excursion to the Coronation Naval Review at Spithead.
Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
MEDWAY QUEEN - Source: SeaBreeze
The ship was requisitioned in 1939 and converted for mine-sweeping. In 1940 HMS MEDWAY QUEEN joined the 10th Mines-weeping Flotilla based in Dover. The 10th Flotilla played a key part in 'Operation Dynamo' in May-June 1940. The ship was estimated to have evacuated 7,000 men while shooting down three Axis aircraft. As a result she became nicknamed the “Heroine of Dunkirk”.

In 1946/7 she was refitted and returned to civilian use. In the early 1960s paddle steamers were struggling to compete with newer-type vessels and the MEDWAY QUEEN made her last voyage to Southend on 9th September 1963.

From 1966 until 1974 she was a nightclub in the Isle of Wight.  She then suffered decline and neglect but thankfully was rescued. The historic paddle steamer MEDWAY QUEEN is currently being fitted out, berthed on Gillingham Pier.  Saved from its fate as a derelict ship, a core group of volunteers formed the MQPS to save the ship which saved 7,000 Allied servicemen during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.

·    VISIT THE GUILDHALL MUSEUM IN ROCHESTER AND OTHER SITES WITH DICKENS CONNECTIONS

Cruise destination Chatham Kent Medway
Eastgate House, Rochester, High Street - Source: Wikipedia
Dickens’ most impressionable childhood days were spent in Medway. Historic Rochester inspired the author so much that he featured it in his work more than any city, other than London.  Many of the buildings that featured in the works of Dickens can still be seen today. These include Restoration House, used in Dickens’ novel ‘Great Expectations’ as the home of Estella and Miss Havisham, The Poor Travellers House, immortalised by the author in a Christmas short story and the impressive Guildhall Museum of local history. At the museum, visitors can learn more about the author and his works in the Dickens Discovery Room via a multi-lingual touch screen technology and film.

The Rochester Guildhall was built in 1687 and is one of the finest 17th-century civic buildings in Kent. Its staircase and main hall have magnificent plaster ceilings, given in 1695 by Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, who was the Member of Parliament for the city of Rochester at the time. The museum was founded in 1897, in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It was first set up in Eastgate House further along the High Street and was moved into the Guildhall in 1979. The wide-ranging collections are housed in two separate buildings, the Guildhall (1687) and the River Medway Conservancy Board Building (1909). The introductory exhibition highlights the role that River Medway has played in shaping the environmental and human history of Medway.

·         VISIT THE ROYAL ENGINEERS MUSEUM

Gillingham has strong maritime and military connections with the nearby Historic Dockyard in Chatham and Royal Engineers barracks based in the town. To learn about the bravery or our soldier engineers from 1066 to the present day, a visit to the Royal Engineers Museum is a must.

The museum is Kent’s only designated museum of national importance and has many galleries, displays of military tanks, torpedoes, jump jets and exceptional items including Duke of Wellington’s battlemap used in the Battle of Waterloo. Highlights of their Galleries include the Waterloo Map, the world’s first useable guided torpedo, a huge piece of the Berlin Wall, a Harrier Jump Jet and an enormous V2 Rocket.

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While res…

Gathering of the three QUEENs - Cruise vessels meet in Southampton to celebrate the 175th anniversary of CUNARD

CUNARD´s 175th anniversary brought the existing three QUEEN´s, the "shadow of a once great fleet" together in the now abandoned port of register, Southampton. It was the first time the vessels have sailed together in daylight from CUNARD's once (2015) port of register, now Hamilton, Bermuda, on the southern coast. QUEEN MARY 2, QUEEN ELIZABETH and QUEEN VICTORIA sailed after to New York, Hamburg and Guernsey, respectively. You may ask, why so late about that long gone event? At first my last article about MAURETANIA and menues, and second, there is more to say ...And I am anxious about the future and a Bicentannial of CUNARD with CARNIVAL, if the revenues may drop significant.
by Earl of Cruise  Cunard's three Queens - flagship QUEEN MARY2 (centre), QUEEN ELIZABETH(and QUEEN VICTORIA (top), sailed together - © Daily Mail (file photo) A massive crowd was gathered when the ships reunited in Liverpool later that May 2015 to sail down the Mersey. Liverpool? There was somethi…

CRUISE - SAGA HOLIDAYS reveals pictures of the new SAGA OLYMPIC

Design - How to design a retro-futuristic cruise ship for families with children

To design a retro-futoristic cruise ship for families with children is and was quite a task, but we see it sailing in a fleet introduced by DISNEY CRUISE LINE. Among the `streamlined me-too´ design, typically choosen, in the mass market a soothing eye candy. Especially for those loving the `old lines´.
Actually to most critics the exterior design of the actual DISNEY fleet is named the most elegant, modern looking liner design - it seems to me a bit of  `Steam Punk´. And indeed the DISNEY vessels have the special look, that is recognized as that of the Golden Era of liners, the 1930s and ART DÉCO. by, editing by Earl of Cruise (in grey)
Early design idea presented by FROG DESIGN to DISNEY - courtesy FROG DESIGN FROG DESIGN was involved in creating the basic ship and brand designfor DISNEY cruises. Frog (styled as frog) is a global design firm founded in 1969 by industrial designerHartmut Esslinger in Mutlangen, Germany as "esslinger design". Soon after it moved…

HISTORY - Traveling with airliner LZ 129 HINDENBURG was the most luxurious airtravel

The real airliner LZ 129 HINDENBURG enabled the most luxurious airtravel for decades. Imagine, gliding through the air while the landscape or the sea below can be seen ... LZ 129 HINDENBURG marks the climax of airship construction. On May 6, 1937, the story of civilian airship ended in a tragedy. In Lakehurst, New Jersey, the largest flying object and has been with the similar sized LZ 130 GRAF ZEPPELIN II the most luxurious of all time. How this came about can be reconstructed logically, a series of fatal physics concatenations. The airship LZ 129 HINDENBURG marks the climax of airship construction. It was in its time the fastest and most exclusive traveling object between Europe and America. The challenges of the construction of the giant of the heaven were immense. by Earl of Cruise
LZ 129 HINDENBURG, 1936, in Lakehurst - digital copy of a coloured cover photo, originally by Bill Schneider, published in Dan Grossman´s book `ZEPPELIN HINDENBURG: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF LZ 129´ The d…

Liners - A comeback for classic ocean liners not as we know them A suggestion

Can the classic ocean liners make a comeback - No, not as we know these ocean liners with several classes and a huge number of passengers on board. But if these classic styled ocean liners will meet the needs and wishes of a well heeled group of guests, then yes!
My idea is based on researches. by Earl of Cruise My own design draft for le nouveau NORMANDIE (below is the longitudinal cut of the original NORMANDIE) The idea for this design draft started as competition between me and Mike Strasbaugh some time ago These new ocean liners then have to cater voyagers, similar to those that we once have found flying in the CONCORDE. BRITISH AIRWAYS and AIR FRANCE made huge losses in the beginning with the supersonnic airliner. But after a research among their passengers, they made those prices that these passengers thought they have paid, as most of them never booked for themselves, but via their PA´s or Concierge Travel Agencies. The payment was "automatic". And then after both airl…

Cruise - A new MEIN SCHIFF 1 is comming

The new MEIN SCHIFF 1 is comming 2018 to replace the existing MEIN SCHIFF 1 the former CELEBRITY CRUISES vessel GALAXY, later CELEBRITY GALAXY. After a multimillion € refit by transforming normal outside cabins into balcony cabins, and lengthening the up to 262 meter with a new sponson at the stern (beam 32,2m, draught 8,5m).
The existing and the new MEIN SCHIFF 1 are no luxury cruise vessels, but in the mass market a real premium product. The passenger numbers are near to 3,000 and the crew at 1,000, which will be stress for the crew per se.
I want to give a first glimpse at the interiors of the new MEIN SCHIFF 1. In comparison to the WOW and EFFECT hashing cruisers, a calm designed ship interior. by Earl of Cruise The new MEIN SCHIFF 1, rendering - courtesy TUI CRUISES The former GALAXY was the first new ship of the ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES Ltd. and TUI GROUP´s joint venture - TUI CRUISES. GALAXY lost its US American tastes related interiors at BLOHM+VOSS with the consulting of German…

PEACE BOAT is planing its first purpose built ship, a revolutionairy design

PEACE BOAT’s ECOSHIP Project is the first purpose built ship and a transformational programme to construct the planet’s most environmentally sustainable cruise ship. PEACE BOAT is a non-government organisation that is working altruistic for peace, understanding, human rights, enviroment protection and sustainability. So it is only consequent to build an enviroment friendly ship, with less carbon footprint than existing vessels. 
by Earl of Cruise Will this vessel and its concept become reality, it will be a breakthrough in enviromental technology on the seas. It will be a lighthouse, hopefully awakening the yesterdays dreaming brickheads, who proclaim global warming is a communist conspiracy. The ECOSHIP - rendering by Oliver Design, courtesy PEACE BOAT This is all the more interesting as the US just having withdrawn its responsibility for the climate and the environment on the G20 summit in Baden Baden , just as this Trump had cried out, loud enough to hear in the election campaign. The …

RITZ-CARLTON is building three luxury cruise vessels

I once wrote, being new in the cruise market, you have to be outstanding, and these three new cruise vessels for RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL COMPANY, L.L.C. There is NO other chance for a newcomer in this megalodon driven industry, as to be totally contrary to what these mass market tourist ventures are offering - e.g. VIRGIN VOYAGES or now RITZ-CARLTON YACHT COLLECTION.
by Earl of Cruise RITZ-CARLTON YACHT COLLECTION new luxury cruise ships - rendering courtesy RITZ-CARLTON YACHT COLLECTION RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL COMPANY, L.L.C., Chevy Chase, Maryland (USA), with over 90 hotels and resorts in over 40 countries, is a 100% subsidiary of MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR), has announced its entry into the yachting cruise industry. A branch in the mega trend industry which is catering the well-off people. The RITZ-CARLTON is the first luxury hotel brand to bring its award-winning service and timeless style of the hotels to the high seas. Its industry-first brand extension, the RITZ-CARLTON YACHT…