A Trip on the River

The end of October into the start of November 2012 sees a celebration of Kent’s coastal heritage. Sponsored by Kent County Council, numerous events are happening, ranging from exploring nature reserves to gaining access to things often not open to the public.

One of the events was a trip on a preserved tugboat, the MT Kent. The South Eastern Tug Society owns, maintains and operates the Kent to promote festivals around the south east and near continental ports.

MT Kent was built in 1948 by Richards Ironworks in Lowestoft for JP Knight Ltd of Rochester. She worked on the Medway, and was deployed as far afield as Scotland and Ireland under contract. She retired in 1988, and was eventually acquired by the SETS, who then spent four years restoring the vessel to working order.

Since she is not a passenger ship, trips aboard the Kent are quite rare. There is no accommodation, apart from a small galley and the wheelhouse, so if the weather is inclement any “pleasure” trip may be called off. Luckily, though slight rain was forecast, today we set sail from the Chatham Marina on St Mary’s Island, and headed out for Rochester. We turned at Bridge Reach, in sight of Rochester Castle and Cathedral. We headed back towards Hoo Marina, before turning once more and heading back to Chatham Marina.

I mainly shot video of the trip, though I did find time to fire off a few shots with my compact camera. The edited video will take a while to prepare, but be assured it will be mentioned in due course.

We were cold, windswept, smothered in diesel fumes, but we all enjoyed every minute of the trip. The volunteers and crew of the MT Kent made us all very welcome, and were very happy to explain any aspect of the vessel’s history. I have lived around the Medway Towns since the late 1980s, and while I have spent a good deal of my spare time by the River Medway taking photographs, this is the first time I have travelled on the river itself. I hope it won’t be the last.

Click here to visit the MT Kent web site.

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