they were originally the PLA's motor Hoppers "Cyril Kirkpatrick" and "Asa Binns"-built in 1965 at Harland & Wolffs yard at North Woolwich--they were propelled with twin Schottel Units and after being laid up at Rainham, in Essex,where the PLA had the reclamation Unit, were sold and the lamp room and wheelhouse were cut off,the Rolls Royce DV8 engines and Schottel units removed to make them into dumb hoppers-I have pictures of them being converted and having served in the "Asa Binns' for 7 years I wasn't too happy at what was being done to them,as they were good hoppers ,a bit noisy with the engines on deck aft,but they had great accomodation for a mud hopper !---they certainly look sad now---if I can dig out the photos I'll post them
Thanks for the detailed history Ballito,what a shame as you said.
They have been bought by GPS Marine and are used as huge hopper barges. They have been renamed 1501 and 1502.
Recently one was let go from its wharf at Victoria Deep on the River Thames by kids and drifted down the river,luckily never hitting any vessels and came to rest in the entrance to the West India Dock.
I would love to help Ben but, unfortunately, can't. Asa Binns and Cyril Kirkpatrick were so familiar on the Thames that hardly anyone bothered to take photos of them. A real shame and I'm as guilty as anyone for this.
Fantastic pictures, a real insight for me. They have very strange looking wheelhouse's, very small for the beam of the hopper.
They are the biggest barges/hoppers on the thames (as far as i know) being used currently by GPS. Alongside tugs such as Richard Hart,they are huge things.
The night 1501 broke free, we saw her adrift in the river by West India Dock and as we passed i thought there would be a tug the otherside as you can never see the tug as it sits so low...we passed and nothing was there. Got straight on the radio to the PLA, they sent a harbour launch up but by then it had smashed into the wall and the harbour launch pinned it there until a tug arrived about 30 minutes later.
Yes the wheelhouses were small compared to the rest of the ship---they had a console with the two schottel wheels centrally placed withjust enough room for a stool either side so you could sit down on the job!---we used to have one schottel locked ahead,and steer with the other whilst going from place to place,but they were very manoueverable going alongside the dredger or the pump at Rainham for example.
There were also duplicate schottel and engine controls on each bridge wing so you could lean over the wing and see her alongside all the way.Looking at the photo of 1501 they must have spent some money on her to remove all the door gear etc--I have a photo of the Kirkpatrick when they were first converted and owned by a company called Fife Marine Charter-with theSuncrest on for'd waiting to go in the West I think.
Regards Ian (Ballito)