Archive for the ‘Kent’ Category

John H Amos on its pontoon

John H Amos

A steam paddle tug built on the Clyde for the Tees Conservancy. Its main function was towing barges but it also had a licence for 144 passengers. In 1959 the boat and its crew were arrested when it was found to be towing barges containing illicit alcohol as part of a smuggling ring. It was withdrawn in 1967 and presented to the local council. Between 1971 and 1976 it was docked at Stockton and was being restored as part of a youth experience programme funded by the UK government. However in 1976 funding was withdrawn and the project folded. The council decided to scrap the tug. It was purchased by the Medway Maritime Museum and eventually became berthed in a dry dock at Chatham Historic Dockyard, However, when the Dockyard came into possession of HMS Ocelot, a Chatham built Submarine, the John H Amos had to be moved to another berth where unfortunately it sunk. It was later raised using a crane and now sits on a pontoon awaiting funds for restoration.

Medway Queen

Medway Queen

Built in 1923, this paddle steamer carried passengers between Strood, Chatham, Southend and Herne Bay. In WWII she was used as a minesweeper in the Dover Flotilla and was credited with rescuing around 7000 men during the evacuations at Dunkirk. After the war, she returned to civilian ferry duties until 1963, when she was withdrawn from service. She moved to the Isle of Wight where she was used as a floating restaurant and night club.  After a number of years, she sank at her mooring on the River Medina and was raised and brought back to the Medway on a pontoon. Restoration work was completed in 2013 and she is now moored at Gillingham.

The masts of the SS Richard Montgomery

SS Richard Montgomery

The Richard Montgomery was an American Liberty boat wrecked on the Nore sands at the mouth of the Medway in 1944. Her cargo was 1400 tonnes of high explosives, which it was deemed too dangerous to try and salvage. Much debate has ensued and continues to rage, about the effect of any potential explosion on the surrounding area. These range from creating a tsunami which would drown the estuarine towns such as Sheerness and Southend to little or no noticeable effect. The official line is that after 70 plus years underwater it is unlikely that the explosives are still in a viable state and that the explosive risk is very low. Nether the less the area around the wreck remains a prohibited area.

 

Named Norweigan, this locomotive arrived at KESR from Oslo in 1971. It was built in Trollhattan in 1919 and first saw service in the SE of the country. From there it transferred to the Nordland line, 60 miles north of Trondheim, where it served as the power unit for a snow plough. On withdrawal, it was purchased and brought to the UK. In 1984 it was purchased by the Norweigan Locomotive trust as one of only 3 surviving examples of this class and was renamed Norweigan.

 

 

RSPB Cliffe Pools

A bright sunny morning found Keith and me at the RSPB Cliffe Pools reserve in North Kent. August can be a quiet time for birds and so it seemed it would be on the way down to the reserve from West Court farm. Still, it is also a time when plenty of other things can be seen. Our first stop was the radar pools but apart from a large group of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits, there was little to be seen, bird-wise. However the vegetation around the pools was alive with butterflies, mostly small whites and green veined whites, together with a single Painted Lady, a few Red Admirals and Holly Blues and a number of Migrant Hawker dragonflies; Common Blue damselfly and Common Darters.

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Holly Blue

 

Migrant Hawker (f)

Common Blue damselfly

Common Darter

 

Perhaps our best find was at the small pond under the radar tower, where we found three emerald damselflies. There are four species of emerald damselflies found in North Kent and I didn’t immediately recognise this one. Later research, confirmed them to be the Willow Emerald. A recent colonist to south-east England, this damselfly was first recorded in East Anglia in 2007, it has now spread to Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and the north coast of Kent. This is my first record of this species.

Willow Emerald damselfly. Photo by Keith

Moving on there were no signs of Black-winged Stilts on the pools near the Black Barn. Black-winged Stilt is a rare visitor to the UK, but two pairs bred at Cliffe this year raising at least seven young. It seems that one family has apparently moved off across the Thames to Essex, but the other has remained at Cliffe. But they were not visible during our visit. Walking down to the sea wall, a flash of colour alerted us to a rather well camouflaged moth resting against the stone wall. This Red Underwing, mottled grey on top, was magnificently camouflaged until it flew revealing its brightly coloured underwing.

Red Underwing. Photo by Andy Rogers (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cobaltfish/)

Spot the Moth. Red Underwing blending into stone wall

As we left the estuary and turned back inland we were alerted to the calls of Greenshank and searching for these lead us to find a Eurasian Spoonbill and a number of other wading birds including Common Redshank and Whimbrel. We had just decided to move on from this pool when the clouds darkened and there was thunder and lightning followed by heavy rain. We sought shelter under the vegetation for 10 minutes but it did not seem like this was a passing shower and so we decided to make our way smartly back to the waiting car and a quick retreat.

A good day with my first record of willow emerald damselfly being the highlight.

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Linnet [sp] (Carduelis cannabina)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)
Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina)
Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus)

Red Underwing Moth (Catocala Nupta)

Western Willow Emerald (Lestes viridis)
Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Some pictures from a recent visit to the Kent and East Sussex Railway.

The Railway line from Robertsbridge to Tenterden opened in 1900, with extensions in 1903 and again in 1905 as far as Headcorn. It was envisaged that the line would go onto the county town of Maidstone, but this section was never built. the line struggled through the 1930’s as competition from Road Transport cut into its financial viability. Following the nationalisation of the Railway in 1948, the situation did not improve and figures from 1953 showed that each week 90 trains were run on the line and between them they carried only 118 passengers a week! The line was closed the following year for passengers although goods continued to be hauled on the line until 1961. A battle to preserve the line began and the first trains ran over a 2-mile section in 1974. The line was extended to Nortiam in 1990 and to Bodiam in 2000.

Tenterden Town station

Copy of notice for Withdrawal of passenger services on the line which now forms the KESR

D9504, an unusual design with a central cab, at Tenterden

Locos and utility trains in the sidings at Tenterden

Travelling through rolling Countryside

Approaching the terminus at Bodiam

Norweigan state Railway 21C class locomotive at Bodiam.

D2024 awaiting restoration at Bodiam. Worked at BR depot at Lincoln, Hartlepool docks and Grangemouth before arriving at KESR in 1980

 

All aboard for Southend

Posted: July 28, 2017 in Essex, Kent, UK
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On Wednesday Keith and I travelled aboard the Jacob Marley from Rochester Pier up the River Medway and across the River Thames to Southend.

Passing under Rochester Bridge

Upnor Castle

Lightships at Hoo (now used as house boats)

Hoo Fort

Kingsnorth Power station. The day after the trip the building on the left was demolished

Garrison Point Sheerness at the point where the Medway joins the Thames. The old fort and the new navigation control tower

Approaching Southend Pier

Jacob Marley moored on Southend Pier

It had been a relatively calm crossing with little traffic in the main sea lane leading from London to the English Channel.

 

Old dockyard buildings

Lower Gun Casement. Upnor Castle

Upnor Castle

 

 

Upnor Castle was constructed between 1559-67 to defend the Chatham Dockyard and Reach which was at the time the primary port for the British Navy. In June 1667, the Dutch launched a surprise raid on Chatham. The entered the reach and burned and captured a number of ships. The defensive positions such as Upnor were severely hampered by a lack of ordinance supplies and thus were unable to prevent the progress of the Dutch fleet up the river. They were resupplied overnight and when the Dutch returned the next day intent on burning the dockyard, Upnor and the other positions were successful in driving them off before they reached their target. However, the raid had shown that any raid needed to be stopped before it got that close to the dockyard and so a series of larger forts were built nearer the Thames. Upnor became a gunpowder and cannon store for ships visiting the Dockyard. It remained a military establishment until 1945 when it passed to the Dept of Monuments and is now open to the Public and managed by English Heritage.

Medway Tugs

The Medway is a major leisure location

Motor launches at the Royal Engineers Station on the Medway

The Royal Engineers Station on the Medway

Rochester Cathedral with the Castle beyond

Our River cruise on the Medway took us past Chatham Historic Dockyard

Reminders of Chatham’s military history now blend into the environment

Old Dockyard sheds

HMS Cavalier, a destroyer launched in 1944 which served for 28 years in the Atlantic, Pacific and Baltic oceans.

The tower of HMS Ocelot, a submarine, shows over the dock wall. It was the last naval ship built in the Dockyard at Chatham. Launched 1962.

HMS Gannet, a sloop, built at nearby Sheerness in 1878. Used as a patrol and communications boat.

The Submarine sheds. Now used as repair shops for ferry boats.

Dockyard cranes

 

 

Recently Keith and I went for a boat trip along the River Medway.

Our boat – The Jacob Marley

Leaving the pier at Rochester with the Castle in the background.

The Old Russian Submarine moored at Strood

Frindsbury Church

Rochester Cathedral and Castle from the river

A reminder of Rochester’s maritime heritage

An old accommodation barge

Chatham Riverfront

 

 

Some pictures from a recent visit to Rochester in Kent

 

La Providence – The French hospital. Founded in London in 1708 by a rich Huguenot to care for poor Huguenot refugees fleeing from persecution in France it moved to Rochester in 1959. Today is still alms-house for people of Huguenot descent.

Restoration House, so called because Charles II stayed here on the night before his restoration to the Throne of England and Scotland

The Vines – originally the site of the vineyard of the priory of Rochester Cathedral

The Coopers Arms – dates from 1199

Medieval buildings in the High St

Bridge House – originally offices of trust that built and controlled the Medway Bridge

A reminder of Rochester’s maritime heritage

Rochester Castle

 

On a recent visit to Rochester, Keith and I visited the Museum which is housed in the Old Guildhall (1687) and the previous offices of the Medway Conservancy (1909) next door.

The Medway Conservancy building with the Guildhall beyond

Detail on the Medway Conservancy building

Guildhall building

It contains a number of exhibits on the history of Rochester from its Norman foundations around the Castle and the Cathedral situated at the crossing of the River Medway to its civil war exploits and the Battle of the Medway in 1667 when the Dutch entered the River and captured or destroyed a large part of the British Fleet in 1667.

Attack on Rochester Castle

A civil war tableau

Battle of Medway 1667

An unusual Green Post Box

The upper floor of the Guildhall is the Guildhall chamber which has been used both as a court and as a council chamber during its history.

Guildhall Chamber