Tug Meeching

19th February 2006, 12:28
I'm curently involved in a con-commercial 'labour of love' project for the Newhaven Maritime Museum. I'm building up a history of the harbour tug Meeching, with as much information and as many photos as I can collect. This is special and personal for me, as my father Capt. Frank Gilbert, was her skipper for many years. It was his last command before he retired in 1979.

so far, it's going well, with photos from local people as well as some of the contributors here, local press and Fotoflite allowing me to use their images.

If you're reading this and have anything that you can share, please let me know by a reply or a PM.

Now here's a long shot. I can remember reading a post somewhere on one of the forums by a gentleman from Holland, Piet van Damme. He said in the post that he had a copy of her plans. I lost my set in a house move years ago and would like to obtain copies. If anyone can help put me in contact with this gentleman, I'd be really grateful.

Very many thanks
Andy G

26th March 2007, 13:07
Proably way to late but have sent you a PM with Piet's email address

26th March 2007, 13:19
Would it not be possible to get a copy of the plans from P K Harris and Sons her builders in Appledore as they have been very helpfull with myself in the past

29th March 2007, 10:55
Hi Gdynia,

I've been in touch with them and they say they no longer have them. They referred me to the Appledore Museum, which I visited, and to the North Devon records office. They referred me back to Appledore Shipbuilders.

There was also an issue with hydroconic hull designs being patented, see other posts regarding this, and plens were meant to go back to the company that held the patents.

Thanks for the thought anyway!

I was going to post in this thread this morning, as my brother (once her 2nd engineer) saw a TV report from the Medway a day or two ago. There, sitting on top of a pile of scrap, was Meeching's lifeboat. It makes us wonder if the old girl hasn't finally gone the same way.

Does anyone know if she's still lying on the Meday?


29th March 2007, 14:07
Last I heard of her was at Washer Wharf Queenborough attached picture taken by Ted Ingham (www.tugtalk.co.uk) on 17/06/2006.

Regards David

29th March 2007, 22:28
Thanks David, I see she was missing the lifeboat back then, so maybe all isn't lost. Hopefully someone else will have some recent news.

7th April 2007, 19:37
I spoke to the boss of a salvage company a couple of days ago - he's just put a bid in for the MSC Napoli job - and he'd seen her at Queenborough a couple of weeks ago. She'd sunk at her moorings again, but had been refloated. Depending on the damage, I can't see anyone spending money on her this time.
Anyone have any details on this?

8th April 2007, 05:19
My feekings!... its a crying shame. having had two members of my family who have sailed on the meeching. My late father as mate and my brother (marsat2) as AB. i also knew many of the crew who used to sail her. most of which have since crossed the bar.
I do hope someone buys her if only as a "live on"
She did some great towing/salvage jobs in her day.

17th April 2007, 20:01

It may be that the plans have reached either the National Maritime Museum or the National Railway Museum. I got plans for the Humber ferries from Sealink HQ many years ago and was told that the archives would eventually go to York!

23rd April 2007, 15:45
I got plans for the Humber ferries from Sealink HQ many years ago and was told that the archives would eventually go to York!

Never thought of that. I'll get on that right away, thanks!


Peter Dryden
23rd April 2007, 19:06
I was watching "Coast" at the weekend on UKTV History, it was down in the Thames Estuary and I am sure I got a quick glimpse of the stern of Meeching moored up.


John Gurton
3rd July 2007, 17:23


Pics of the tug taken on 1st July 2007, moored on Queenborough Buoys on the Swale.

3rd July 2007, 20:12
If you go to
and click on the medway section there is a pic of meeching taken by myself last week

4th July 2007, 00:28
Wonder what the future has in store for her? ... She was a damn fine tug in her day, did some interesting jobs too!

27th July 2007, 13:29
Found this picture taken by Ted Ingham on www.tugtalk.co.uk showing Meeching and Nore Commander on 26th July 2007 at Queenborough.

27th July 2007, 16:15
Try posting on Tugspotters forum - www.tugspotters.com - and ask for Piet.

I think he posts there now and again.


31st July 2007, 01:12
Thanks for the recent pix, guys. She actually looks a bit better than when I last saw her, maybe there's life in the old girl yet. No lifeboat or liferaft yet, though, so more work to be done. Last time I heard she was still detained for several problems. Anyone have any info on this?

David, do you mean Nore Commodore rather than Nore Commander? If so, that's Newhaven's own Meeching alongside her 'replacement'.

Come to think of it, wouldn't it be weird if Murray bought her and stationed her back at Newhaven!


31st July 2007, 09:07
Would love to hear that she had been granted a new lease of life Andy. We shall just have to wait and see what the future has in store for her.

31st July 2007, 17:34
Yes quite right Meechingman I did mean to type Nore Commodore not Commander another "Senior Moment" !!

1st August 2007, 21:03
Cheers David. That pic will now cause a few smiles at the museum.

3rd August 2007, 12:38
So anybody know what tug is covering Newhaven if Nore Commodore is not there at the moment ?

5th August 2007, 21:41
We were discussing this at the musuem this afternoon, after looking at Ted Ingham's photo.
Newhaven is currently tug-less, as Nore Commodore disappeared a few months back. Presumably LD/Transmanche and the port operators are totally confident of the ability of the two ferries to opearate unaided in any conditions.

Maybe a tug will suddenly appear if there's a need. Dover or Pompey (or even Dieppe) could get one here in 4-5hours or so. Hmmm....


PS. If anyone has Ted Ingham's email address, or can put me in contact (or if Ted's reading this!) could they let me know by PM, as I've lost his details and want to ask permission to use one of his photos. Thanks

6th August 2007, 11:00
Andrew have put a general message on Tugtalk for Ted to get in touch with you hope that works

6th August 2007, 11:50
Andy, Maybe the council intend to put a "nautical" parking meter at the waters edge in Seaford Bay and reap the revenue in south west gales...LOL

6th August 2007, 13:20
Thanks for doing that, David.

Billyboy, that's a neat thought, though so far, both of the Transmanche sisters are managing to stay well away from the beach! Of course, we'll only need that tug when they do go for a walk east of the pier! According to the MAIB, Nore Commodore was too weedy to handle them anyway, and unfortunately, if you compare bollard pulls, Meeching wouldn't have fared much better. When she was designed back in 1959, the largest steamer on N/D was the Lisieux, and even though she had to pull a few 15000 tonners around in the days of Fishers, that was only in good conditions. Getting that size of ferry off a sandbank would have been a rather different matter!


7th August 2007, 00:34
If only the old Meeching had been fitted with fixed Kort nozzles her bollard pull would have been much higher. Mind you Andy she towed the "crystal Jewel while her decks were almost awash at the time.

7th August 2007, 13:08
Andrew had a message from Ted on Tugtalk saying that it was ok for you to use any of his photo's. I'll send you the actual posting in a private message you'll see why when you read it !!!

7th August 2007, 14:17
Cheers David, have PM'd with reply.

Billyboy, a set of 'after-market' Korts or a re-engine, plus a few bits of replacement plating would have given her a new lease of life. Big problem was, that after the dredging with the Testside stopped, there was nothing for her and the crew to do most of the time. And, after the 'privatisation' of Sealink, Sea Containers didn't want to speand any real money on Newhaven, tug included.


13th August 2007, 12:25
Paid a visit to Newhaven Maritime Museum on Friday 10th August very interesting little museum so worth a visit, open 2 - 4 weekdays and I think 2 - 5 on Weekends during Summer. Not much on Meeching though only one photo and she appears in one of the paintings on the wall so you need to get on with your labour of love Andy !

13th August 2007, 14:00
Paid a visit to Newhaven Maritime Museum on Friday 10th August very interesting little museum so worth a visit, open 2 - 4 weekdays and I think 2 - 5 on Weekends during Summer. Not much on Meeching though only one photo and she appears in one of the paintings on the wall so you need to get on with your labour of love Andy !

Ah, you should have told me you were coming and I'd have met you. I only live a few minutes away. There is quite a bit of Meeching stuff there, but it's all over the place - hence my project to get it in one place with a 'life story'.

They do have some of my line drawings and photos of her, as well as a large colour photo from the 80's. Some of the exhibits are 'missing' during a bit of re-organisation, though. They will reappear, I'm sure!

Glad you enjoyed your visit.


27th August 2007, 10:53
Paid a visit to Newhaven Maritime Museum on Friday 10th August very interesting little museum so worth a visit, open 2 - 4 weekdays and I think 2 - 5 on Weekends during Summer. Not much on Meeching though only one photo and she appears in one of the paintings on the wall so you need to get on with your labour of love Andy !

If you visit again ask the Steward to get a printout for "Meeching" there must be at least 20-30 photos of her in the albums including many courtesy of Andy. Whilst we are altering things around this has only been showcases. I do duty on Saturdays and would be happy to find more for you. Pete

5th September 2007, 10:37
Thanks Pete will do that sometime but Newhaven is not one of my regular "Ports of Call" I came down that day to get pictures of the Transmarche ferry Seven Sisters. Sorry so long replying but have been away in Holland getting lots of pictures of ships and of course tugs !

16th October 2007, 19:01
Meeching still alongside barge at Queenborough today, does not appear to have moved.

18th October 2007, 02:52
What happened to the Pioneer that was in Newhaven last year for a few months, I thought she was the Nore Commodore replacement

Regards Bison

19th October 2007, 10:06
Gone, is the answer. We're now an no-tug port, Bison. I guess that 'they' think the ferries are good enough to cope on their own and don't want to pay for a tug on standby all the time. Of course the ferries aren't the only vessels using the harbour, and if there was a problem they could always rustle up a tug from somewhere. Like Dover, Pompey, Dieppe... Of course by then the problem may have solved itself - one wayor the other! Ludicrous situation, IMHO.

marco nista
20th June 2008, 22:59
MEECHING is currently in Oare Creek, Faversham, a few hundred metres up the creek from the Shipwrights Arms.

She is being worked-on altho' the folk aboard are [understandably] cagey about future plans.


21st June 2008, 00:14
Thanks, Marco. I'd been told about her move from Queenborough to Oare Creek. Good to see that work's being done on her and I hope she becomes operational once again.


21st June 2008, 01:56
Should think there would be quite a lot of work to be done Andy. She has been sunk twice. engines will need a good clean out. And perhaps some new plating on the bottom where she has been holed. She will be a useful vessel if brought up to scratch again

23rd June 2008, 01:17
I'm now told that there was only one 'sinking', and that her engines have since been rebuilt, leaving only 'cosmetic' work to be done. Hmmm. we'll see in due course.

23rd June 2008, 01:26
Thanks for that update Andy

24th June 2008, 12:19
Found these pictures on TUGTALK taken by Ted Ingham of Meeching at Oare Creek, Faversham on 23rd June 2008. Lets hope she may be back in action again sometime soon.

Peter Dryden
24th June 2008, 13:23
Looking at these pictures I had not realised how similar Meeching is to the Tynes Alnwick, Bamburgh etc, I suppose they all came out of the same mould, PK Harris.


25th June 2008, 09:28
Nice one Thameswatcher. Many thanks for posting. (lot of sentiment tied up in this old girl)

Kentish Spotter
29th December 2008, 19:58
Meeching is still around the Thames estuary area - saw her this morning moored up in Oare Creek. I knew her in her later days at Newhaven when her crew took enormous pride in her - she looked a bit sorry for herself today.
Is there any chance of getting her back to her fomer glory ?

31st December 2008, 17:32
Meeching was always well looked after here at Newhaven. Yes, her crews did take great pride in her.
She is, according to her current owner, being brought back into use. Here engines have been rebuilt and there's only "cosmetic" work left to be done. From the photos I've seen (late summer '08) it's a lot of cosmetic work.
I hope she is brought back to life, some of her sisters from the same era are still going strong.

31st March 2009, 13:35
Have attached a picture of Meeching taken by Ted Ingham at Oare Creek, Faversham 30/03/2009 as posted on www.tugtalk.co.uk Work is going on but very slowly by the look of it. Still no lifeboat in the davits

1st April 2009, 03:19
Great to see work is ongoing Thameswatcher. My late Father was Mate on her for some years and my older Brother was AB. She performed on some interesting salvage jobs in her time and sailed through some horrendous seas too! She proved to be a good sea keeper and a very useful harbour tug as well.
I often wondered why when they built her they didn't include Kort nozzles. That would have given her a much greater bollard pull.
Many thanks for posting the latest picture

1st April 2009, 10:10
I was up there a few weeks ago and a lot of work has been done. Ted sent me some photos a week ago and the starboard side was all primer, so someone's been busy with the paintbrush. Also, that radar has been spinning as it's now facing a different direction! You can't (legally) get that near on the quayside but through a zoom lens, it looks like most things are now in good order. The last report I have on the lifeboat is that someone spotted it in a Meridian TV documentary. It was on a pile a junk back at Otterham Quay.

A good sea keeper, Billy? Depends on your definition. She'd certainly always bring you home through the foulest of weather, but you'd roll the bilge keels out of the water quite regularly! Not the most comfortable of rides.

As for the Korts,they should have given her more bollard pull, but research into the hydroconic hull form shows that Burness Corlett's patented design used for Meeching and her sisters was such that it already gave more bollard pull for a given amount of horsepower than a conventional hull. Adding Korts might well have affected its efficiency, cancelling out the effect of the Korts.

Anyone wanting to see Meeching's potted life history, with plenty of photos, go here:
Plenty of info and pix there as well as my main page, and there's now my book on her at Newhaven Museum.


1st April 2009, 10:37
I would be interested in a copy of your book if you published it Andy.

Also if you come across any photos of my late Father Jock Still I would love a copy.

2nd April 2009, 23:30
Alas, I only have permission to produce it as an exhibit for the museum. However, I'm now working on an extended version for an evening presentation for the Historical Society and Our Newhaven. I may have enough photos with full permission to produce a small book. People keep telling me that there would be enough interest, so maybe.....

I'll see what I can find, though you may well have copies of the ones I have / have access to at the museum.


29th July 2010, 07:35
Hello friends
I am 57 ,live in Athens ,motorcycle mechanick,I love the ships i travelled
in my early years

29th July 2010, 07:58
A warm welcome aboard from the Philippines. Please enjoy all this great site has to offer.
did you actualy sail on the Tug Meeching? two members of my family sailed on her.

21st February 2012, 09:55
I gather from Ted Ingham that Meeching is back at Washer Wharf, Queenborough

21st February 2012, 16:49
Yes. Marconista spotted her yesterday, just waiting for his photo(s) to appear here or over on the Dover Ferries Forum.

John Gurton
26th April 2012, 22:30
Heard on the grapevine that Murray Tugs have bought her so she may start work again around the Medway.

30th April 2012, 00:19
That's interesting and would explain her sudden move from Oare Creek to Queenborough, if anyone has confirmation of this I'd love to know.

30th April 2012, 22:58
I've been in touch with Murray Tugs and this is correct. They have indeed bought her and full refurbishment is under way. She will be slipped in May/June and back at work later in the year at Queenborough and also covering at Ramsgate.