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The Pickersgill Shipyard

TID 154, an oil burning steam tug built by William Pickersgill Ltd. in Sunderland, did not see active duty in the Second World War because she was launched in August 1945 and completed as the war ended. TID tugs were innovative because of their all-welded sectional construction.



Historic picture of CMC pier
Cyprus Mines Corporation site

She was sold to a company called Wilkins and Devereux Ltd. in 1947 and in the same year to the Solea Barge Company in Cyprus.

For the rest of her working life TID 154 pulled barges for the American owned Cyprus Mines Corporation (CMC) based at a copper mine at Gemikonagi near Lefke on the North coast.



Map of North Cyprus
There were no shipyard facilities in that part of the island so maintenance was carried out on a makeshift slipway comprising railway lines on a pebble beach.



View from the pier
In 1974 when the Turks invaded Cyprus TID 154 was on such a slipway adjacent to the pier which was her base.
She is there to this day. The Americans abandoned the tug and the entire mining operation.



When the Turkish government were tidying up the scrap metal left over from the fighting, TID 154 was spotted by a certain Alaeddin Burhan, who purchased her from the government and changed her name to Burhan 111.

The buildings associated with the pier and the slipway became a fish and chip shop run by Cemal Datas. The tug became a well known landmark sitting high and dry in the cafe car park, and was so close to the buildings that vandals left her well alone.



View of the stern

In 1999 Doug Streeter from Brighton, an octogenarian journalist, was on holiday in Northern Cyprus.

On his return to Britain his journalistic instincts lead him to investigate the story of the land-bound tug. There was no name on the hull, just the words "TID LONDON".



TID 164 at Chatham Historic Dockyard
He found that TID was a class of tug and that examples of such vessels were being preserved in the Southeast of England. One of these was TID 164, moored at Chatham Historic Dockyard and owned by Martin Stevens. When the two met at Chatham the circle was complete. Martin was able to identify the Cyprus vessel as TID 154 which had been built in the same yard just a few weeks before his vessel. He determined to go to Cyprus.



Cemal Datas

In May 2000 Martin flew to Northern Cyprus, found the tug, met Cemal Datas, found out the name of the owner, and decided to buy the tug. 'Plan A' was to restore her. If this was not practical then 'plan B' would be to bring the machinery back to England to be used in another vessel.

At this time Alaeddin Burhan was living in Florida and had retirement dreams of taking the tug to Turkey, converting her to become a diesel engined yacht and cruise the Mediterranean. Martin was to persuade him otherwise.



Martin recording the wreck
Martin Stevens

When a price was agreed, a legal agreement was drawn up for Martin to buy the tug at some future date because at this time there were no funds for the purchase.

It was not until 2004 that the vessel changed hands and came under the protection of the team at the Medway Maritime Trust.

In the same year Martin flew out again, this time with the intention of arranging for a carpenter to make the cabins habitable so that engineers could follow to start work and have somewhere to stay on board.

The best laid plans.........



After the boiler room explosion
TID 154 boiler room

Martin went straight to the tug and immediately realised that 'plan B' had to be activated.

During some celebrations of a past victory of Turks over Greeks, beacons had been lit. Cemal Datas had decided that his contribution to the festivities would be to make smoke come out of the tug's funnel. He lit the fire in the boiler room and not in the boiler. Being an oil fired vessel there was still oil in the bunkers. There was an explosion which ripped open the port bunker.



Work in progress
TID 154 engine room
It took a weekend of pointless contacts until Omer Andag was engaged to remove all the machinery from TID 154 and store it in his yard. He turned up on the Monday with gas cutting equipment a crane and a small truck. Masks and goggles supplied by Martin were discarded by the cutting crew and work progressed well.



Omer Andag
Martin had an opportunity to make plans for the future of the empty hull.



Painting of TID 154 by David Walker
He was guided by local ex-pat David Walker who ran an art shop near to the tug. David's wife worked at Lefke University and a meeting was arranged with a don who had contacts with the United Nations. A 'UNOPS' grant might be available to set up the tug as a restaurant and museum.



Stripped parts on the beach
Steam equipment removed from TID 154

Martin visited the Mayor of Lefke, Mehmet Zafer, who may be able to allocate some land to stand the tug on. This was to be a visit too far.

After three days of removing machinery the Mayor turned up at the tug with two policemen and demanded that work should cease immediately. A court order was threatened, and he insisted that the parts already taken off must be stored in the Mayoral Yard.



Newspaper clippings

At the meeting with the Mayor, Martin had obviously done an effective job at convincing him that the tug project could be important for the area. His worship had now realised that the rusting hulk of steel on his beach was in fact a piece of Cypriot history, to be preserved intact at all costs.

The story found its way to the national daily paper Cyprus Today in both the Turkish and English language editions and the 'man from the British Museum' made front page news.



Martin and Mayor Mehmet Zafer
Martin Stevens and Mayor Mehmet Cevaz

Diplomacy was the order of the day.
Martin convinced Mehmet Cevaz that the machinery was an obstacle to achieving 'the Mayor's project' and dismantling was allowed to continue. The parts were stored behind the premises of Omer Andag the man with the crane, who has said he will keep them safe until they are shipped to England.

Martin has since revisited Cyprus to ensure that the issue has died down in the Municipal Corporation of Lefke. The machinery is safely stored, the Mayor has no objection to its export and Martin would genuinely like to find a use in the area for the rest of the tug.





"Fast forward" to 2006...


Vigilant arriving in Faversham


In the autumn of 2006 Martin and the Medway Maritime Trust were successful in rescuing the 1902 Customs Cutter 'Vigilant' from a scrap yard in Portsmouth. The vessel is now in Faversham Creek, North Kent.




This seems to be an irrelevant diversion from the TID 154 story but the Vigilant had all its steam machinery removed in 1920. The Medway Maritime Trust finds that it can supply a complete steam system 'from stock'. It is only a container ride away in North Cyprus.

(Click here for the Vigilant website)



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