Just a small group of volunteers are responsible for the survival of the Medway Queen, also known as ‘The Heroine of Dunkirk,’ a historic ship that played a key role during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.
The modest group make up for their small numbers by a passion for the history of the ship, built in 1924, and are dedicated to restoring it to its past glory. They have completely replaced the captain’s cabin and had a new hull made in Bristol. The task they have embarked on also involves replacing all of the woodwork on the ship.
Currently sedentary in Gillingham Pier, the Medway Queen has a storied history – her finest hour came when nearly 350,000 allied troops needed to be evacuated from Dunkirk and she played two key roles. Like other small boats of all varieties, the Medway Queen was vital in transporting the soldiers from the beech to the large boats that would carry many thousands of men across the Channel. The Medway Queen also ferried over 7,000 soldiers back home over several voyages.
To mark the centenary of the ship, volunteers hope to have her fully restored by 2024 so that it can be enjoyed by all.
Margaret Windross, a volunteer, said: “In the past it’s been used for entertainment, it’s been used as a leisure ship, it used to go to Southend” and added “there’ll be a good future for it.”