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How the Medway Maritime Trust was formed

The Medway Maritime trust can be said to have had its beginnings in 1972 when two enthusiasts, Martin Stevens and Michael List Brain, planned to create a 'living' maritime museum, the Medway Maritime Museum.


The Medway Maritime Museum

Michael bought the Empire class steam tug Cervia and Martin bought a smaller TID class tug Biddick, but later changed it for one in better condition, TID 164.





The way their living museum would survive was unconventional. The exhibits would earn their own keep.


They would be kept in class and in good condition by having a crew on board. They worked under the trading name of ITL International Towing Limited.


The work included towing batching plants to the oil rig building sites in Scotland, a crane barge to the Humber Bridge construction site, various barges, and redundant vessels for scrap.


The idea worked and the fleet doubled in size with the addition of the steam tug Goliath and the steam paddle tug John H Amos.
  John H Amos was to be an exception to the rule.
She did not work.

Because she was so special and about to be scrapped, the Medway Maritime Museum took her into safe keeping.

When the two friends decided to go their own ways the fleet was divided.
Michael kept Cervia and Goliath and Martin took on responsibility for TID 164 and John H Amos. Michael went into commercial tug restoration and Martin continued with the museum concept.

Even without the discipline of working the vessels Martin found it possible with volunteers to maintain TID 164 in reasonable condition.
John H Amos was a different matter.



To find a mooring and keep her afloat was all that could be achieved and even that was not always possible.

It was not until 1999, when the National Historic Ships Committee recognised John H Amos as a vessel of 'pre-eminent national significance', that things began to change.


Martin was encouraged by Dr. Robert Prescott, the man who had listed the tug on the 'Core Collection,' to form a Charitable Trust. In 2001 he became a founding trustee of the Medway Maritime Trust.



The Medway Maritime Trust

John H Amos was now the last paddle tug in the UK; the Reliant having been scrapped by the National Maritime Museum and the Forceful used as a missile target. Every effort had to be made to save the John H Amos.

With a view to making an application for a full Lottery Grant, the Heritage Lottery Fund granted a Project Planning Grant to assess the project.


The John H Amos was on a disused slipway in Chatham Dockyard which was designated for development. No progress could be made until she was moved.

She could not be trusted to survive a tow so the only answer was to put her on a pontoon.

  The pontoon which was acquired could not be insured to be submerged so it was decided to lift the John H Amos straight from the slipway onto the pontoon.

The lift was achieved in March 2008.

In the meantime Martin Stevens had further developed the role of the Medway Maritime Trust. With his experience of saving vessels at risk he decided to see if he could rescue ships and pass them into the safe-keeping of a trust which would ensure their future.

The Medway Maritime Trust would acquire deserving historic ships. It would work out a specific business plan for future maintenance, set up a trust according to a safe formula, transfer ownership and remain involved in an advisory role.



VIC 96, a steam coaster, was bought from someone who was about to scrap her and has now been restored by a group of volunteers.



Vigilant, a 1902 Customs Cruiser on the 'Core Collection', was rescued from a scrapyard and will be transferred to a trust for restoration and preservation.

To adhere to the same principles even the John H Amos will have a trust of her own.

The aim of the Trust is to pass on the experience of three decades to those who wish to preserve our maritime heritage and make that task easier to achieve.