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I have been researching the life of my grandfather, David (Bob) Watkins who worked for Clements, Knowling. He was Captain of the steam tug Scorcher for 30 years and in July 1958 towed it behind the new Scorcher to be broken up at Grays. A very sad time. In 1957 my grandfather was given MT Brentonian to Captain. I am interested to find anyone who knew my grandfather during his long career with Clements Knowling.
 Helen Mitchell

I noticed your photo of the tug Broncho . Sadly he is not in the photo but my Grandfather Tom LONG was a crew member, probably during 30s/ 40 My late father told me how his Father would disappear on board with a Gladstone bag with his breakfast which would then be cooked on a shovel on the fire.
The Long family lived in Anchor Street , Bermondsey. - Catherine Archer.  

Grateful for any help. In 1963 -64 I was working at WR Cunis the barge/tug yard in Woolwich. Cedric Cunis whose memory I cherish, employed me as naval architect/loftsman/etc. I would really like to find any photographs etc of the yard and notice that Tim Cunis assisted your site with details of the Cunis tugs. I wonder if it would be possible to get in touch with him? Perhaps fwd this request? Regards,
Ronald Sim Twickenham
My dad,Vince (Spike). worked on W J R Whitehair's tugs shortly after the war along with Dave Clark, my grandfather and an uncle. Dad is now in a home and likes to recall "the old days". I have found photo's of Weno and Regent but no others of the time. There are some references to Croisset but no pictures, dad can't recall any other names of the time but "The Town Of Ramsgate" was a frequent watering hole. Not a surprise there as dad and grandfather came from that town and many family are still living there. I would be obliged if you could point me in the right direction for pictures or other information. - Gary Stroud.


Can anybody remember Dennis Harringtion and his father Wilfred who were both lightermen. Dennis is my father and I would like any information as he will be 80 this month.

Kind regards

Jane Witty


Message posted 20-9-2014

hello. I looked up MV Silverlit as today 20th september is the anniversary of the day in 1992 when i took delivery of her from mike adams at eel pie island. mike had done a brilliant job of the conversion and as i intended and did live aboard it was ideal. i took her to the medway initially to overwinter at strood and later at hoo with the intention of going to the med to live and charter her for fishing/pleasure trips. alas, i met a very pretty girl en route and had to choose... i sold silverlit to felix abei who said he intended to keep her on lake lucerne. like you i last heard she was on the canal du midi in france. i really loved silverlit, she had a soul and really handled well. while at hoo i dry docked her and plated the keel prior to painting the hull with black tar. the grp paint mike had applied sadly cracked and peeled. it all had to be chipped off!! best wishes

steve smith

Messages posted 1-9-2014

The Recruit (2)

I understand from Pauline at Thameside Services that The Recruit (2) has been scrapped by GPS.D you have any information about this? - Angela Hurd


It is with regret that I wish to inform all who knew him, of the passing away of my father Thomas Lewis White the last of the 'sons' of W.E.White & Sons. His funeral is to take place at
St Paul's church Northumberland Heath at 13:00 on Friday 05 September 2014 and afterwards at Erith Cemetery.


Chris White (elder brother of Mick and Gillian)


Message posted 30-8-2014

I was apprenticed to my father, Bill Moss, I worked for General-Thames & General until 1980 - great camaraderie, fine men. Peter Griffith, Charlie Woolacott, Den Driscoll, Fred Burton, John Dedman, Ted Martin, Vic Window, Kenny Collins, Dave Newcombe, Barry Reid, Terry McSweeney, John Maloney, Jack Burwood, Tom Stacey and Ron Davey to name a few - I could go on and on.



 On 12th May, 1962, I saw a lighterage tug bearing the name CORUNNA near Waterloo Bridge; does anyone please have any info on her? A few years previously, I'd seen a tug with the same name at Shoreham, along with another called Corla (same owners?) so maybe she was on contract work and not based anywhere in particular.

Cheers, Bill Armstrong.


Message posted 3-11-2013

Skipper in Gnat,Aboma,Wasp,Agama Tayra would like to hear from all - Bill Hutson 


Message posted 26-3-2013

 My father Harry Brown worked for the whites as a enginner on the Knocker White and Fridge barges between 1952 to 1968 when he passed away i Know the Knocker is moored up at the museum of london any one still out there. Clive Brown.


Message posted 26-3-2013

 Skipper for Gaselee 1950 on. With Horry Kidd in the Aboma,then Agama,then Tayra. 
  Would like to be intouch with anyone who remembers me at Gaselee & son.  I can help Angela Kidd, also John Weller
                                                                                                Regards William 'Bill' Hutson



 Jim Clements was a great uncle of mine though I never knew him as he died before I was born. My late father was interested in all forms of transport and during school holidays he used to take me  down to Brentford when I was small and in later years I was able to take several trips on the tugs. I remember the funnels being yellow with a black top and the letters JC painted on. I remember the Scorcher from when I was little but the steamer I remember best was the Prince Regent. I don't have any pictures at all and I hope someone can help.

Alan Bond.

Message posted 21-9-2012

 My uncle George Outram was apprenticed to the Union Lighterage Co.  circa 1940.  He became the Chief Engineer on the Thames Tug Boats until the Company closed in circa 1975.

 Tina Tyler.


Message posted 22-8-2012

I was apprenticed in 1957 and worked for Thames Steam Tug until they merged with General  and became Thames and General.Then went on to Cory where I worked with Jim Carter,Henry Hodges,and Charlie Woolacott. Great memories,great time, would love to hear fom anyone from the old days.

 Terry McSweeney.


Message posted 16-8-2012

Hello Jeff Dady, I hope you are well. I don't know where Freddie Britten is but since we were also young hands together in the 60s  I thought I'd say hello. I still remenber trying to drive your Jag' Best wishes,

 Keith Watson.



Does anyone know Johnny Mansfield.He was unnattached during the sixties, his father also John was a skipper for Sammy Williams - Brian Murray.



Does anyone know the whereabouts of Freddie Britten. Freddie and I were young hands for Humphrey & Grey back in the 60s. -Jeff Dady.


Message posted 16-6-2012


Whilst researching a family history I came into possession of some photographs of two Thames tugs, the Charlock and the Margaret Locket. I think the Charlock is Charlock 1. I don't know if you would be interested in the photos but I would like to know where on the Thames they were taken and see if anyone knows anything about William Christmas who was I think master, if that is the correct term, of both tugs. I understand that the Charlock caught fire and he then transferred to the Margaret Locket.

A very interesting site. I have spent ages looking round.

Kind regards

Bob Sheridan


Message posted 21-5-2012

for all you extugmen and lighter men out there check out LIGHTERMEN ON VIMEO  and TUGS TREES AND RIVER it is all on Pathe news .It is all good  stuff .and hello to John Luffram have you still got your Vauxhall cresta/velox or has it been recycled into a bag of nails. RAMSEY BARBER



Does anyone have a scanned photo of the "Richard Hart" in the Atlas Transport livery? Richard Hart was my Grand-Father and I'd love some pictures of the vessel as I remember it. Similarly, any photos of BridgesWharf or the road transport fleet or the staff would be much appreciated.


Simon Hart.
Grand-Son of Valerie, Richard Hart's eldest daughter.



Family members worked for tough & henderson. jack fullick was skipper of the barnes. nobby fullick raymond we believe was his first name drowned whilst in their employ. only member of the family is my cousin mick now 94 who also worked for them.  are they still in existance? where can we get info from?

 Mick Fullick was a skipperon the Tugs Ham, Sheen and Barnes. he is very keen to get involved in the Queens Jubilee pageant. Mick served on the engineering barges that were involved in the the dunkirk invasion.  we would like to know what happened to Tough and Henderson did they go the wall or were they incorporated with another Thames lightering company.  all information greatly appreciated.

Ernest Hains



 Hi there, thanks for your wonderful website

I am currently making a documentary about the comedian Malcolm Hardee whose father, uncles and ancestors all worked on the river as lightermen, working for the Thames Lighteridge Company (?).

I am keen to find any video if possible of lightermen on the river from the 1960s back or earlier if possible.

I'd be very interested in talking to somebody about life on the river at the time for research too, if anybody is interested in talking to me

Malcolm Hardee's life was based all around the Thames and he eventually died in the river too so it will be a big piece of the film


Jody VandenBurg


Message posted 9-2-2012

Hi Angela Kidd, I worked with your Dad on the aboma  for two years 1956/8 best 2 years of my working life,Our skipper was  Bill Hudson ,the last time I met your Dad  was in Woolwich Tunnel about 1964. please call me/Email me regarding your Dad. Brian Leek.

Angela, if you wish to contact Brian get in touch with this site and i will give you his details.



Wonderful site. I seek info re J (?Joseph)Constant, tug owner in late 19thC. Family also owned 'Bawley'boat and sold shrimps in Gravesend until 1920s. Gerald Box.


 William Irwin worked on the river and was described as a retired tug engineer.   He died 1st Jan 1954 aged 89 so would probably have worked on the river from 1880,s to about 1930.   I do not know which company he worked for but would like to know where to go to get information about his working life.   I would be most grateful if you can send me in the right direction.   Mary Lewis

Message posted 21-8-2011

Spent hours on the site found by mistyping in a search engine

Does anybody remember the name  Norman Weller  who worked originally for JP Knight then Gasellee, Ship Towage, London Tugs etc.
I vividly remember the days (and nights ) out when I was sneaked into work boarding at Millwall in a row boat out to the hulk where visited and stayed on different
occasions Tayra, Rana, Agama and the recent Fossa & Culex etc.
As time progressed this moved on to the Vanquisher and Sun XXV1 his last vessel
and various reliefs in the Hibernia, Dhulia, Avenger etc and remember the stories of the Cap San Antonio incident.
Alas, on leaving school in the mid sixties as witnessed and  read most of the steamers were put to bed  and employment prospects long term not looking good, so I opted to go the other side of the sea wall working at Shellhaven. Occasionally through refinery demand a fire tug was used available to connect to our internal fire mains to boost supplies if ever needed, I remember as we had maintenance on our diesel fire pumps powered by a 6cyl Mirrlees  identical to that of the Sun XXV1 supplying the stand by until work completed. Now retired with the skyline gone this has provided hours of enjoymen

John Weller (yougest son)

If any of the old hands remember Norman Weller please contact this site. John has also provided some pictures which will appear in the crew photos and memorabilia sections of this site over the next few days. 

Message posted 14-7-2011

My father William (Billy)Scrace worked on the Tug Fossa for a number of years and was wondering if anybody remembers working on the river with him.


Message posted

Dear Sir,
I am working on the recruitment of interesting, historic boats for the Queens Jubilee Pageant (June 3rd 2012) and it's rehearsal, the Thames Festival Parade which will take place on Saturday 10th September at 14.30 from Batterssea Rail Bridge to Tower Bridge and beyond.
Since Tugs and lighters are central to the hoistory of the
Thames we would very much like boats from your Association to take part. With respect to the September event it's drawing close so time is of the essence!
As you may suspect, places for the Diamond Jubilee Pageant will be oversubscribed and one of the ways we will be able to choose participants to that event is to give priority to vessels who have taken part in one of the rehearsal events. We will already be confident that they have the experience and skills to take part in what will be the biggest gathering of boats on the thames for many hundreds of years.
Were you already aware of the
Thames Festival Parade? If so do you think your members would be interested in taking part?
As a quick pointer boats will need to be able to maintain 6knots over ground (i.e. including tide) and have an airdraft no greater than 5.5m. Tugs with air draft restrictions may still be able to take part as part of static dispalys moored along the route.
We can send you something to circulate to your members and they can contact us directly to enter.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Best regards,
Ian Welsh
07711 069 544


Message posted 18-4-2011

Walter John William Kilsby was my grandad who was a tug captain for Corys between 1930s-1960s if there is any information you have to help would be much appreciated.

Alan Kilsby.


Message posted 6-4-2011

Hi Richard

I remember "Jim" Clements from when I was Greaser Boy on one of the first Diesel Tugs owned by Clements Knowling and Jim lived in the big house on ferry wharf Brentford. "What was the Company like?" I worked there for about 16 years as engineer and they were happiest years of my life. What was Jim like? I remember all the greaser boys got together at Brentford one day, all about 16 and 17 years old and plucked up the courage to ask for a pay rise. He glared at us for a minute then laughed, ok you ’ you have got your rise all backed to work. We were so happy, what a great bloke.

John Luffrum


Message posted 3-3-2011

 Hi. I was interested to find this site. I have recently started researching my husband's family history. His grandfather was John Edward Lawrence Macey (Jack). We understood that he skippered or may have owned a tug called the Cricket in the 1920s and 30s. Unfortunately he and other members of the family were killed by enemy action on Glosterwood Road in 1944; the house was also destroyed so we know very little. The 1911 census suggests that John Macey worked for a Company called White and Foxwell, but this is scored out and "General Lightermen" is inscribed underneath in a different hand. Do you have any information on the company or on the Cricket? Much obliged for any leads you can provide. Regards, Betty Macey 

Message posted 3-2-2011

 My Great, Great Grandfather was "Jim" Clements of Clements, Knowling & Co. What was the company like to work for and what was he like as a person? I would like to hear from anyone who was or, whose family were, involved with Clements, Knowling. 
 Richard Baxter.


Mesaage posted 13-1-2011

My father, Edward (Ted) Carter was the stoker on the Pamela Alice for about 20 years, and was made redundant when diesel tugs were introduced, and the Pamela Alice was broken up.  Family legend has it I was named Pamela after the tug.  The skipper was Fred Winter.  I used to have days out on the tug with my father.  Additionally, Dad's brother, Jim Carter, was the stoker on the Scorcher and came out of retirement to take her down the breakers yard when she was broken up.
Both tugs were moored at the wharf at
Kingston upon Thames by the bridge.  We lived in the pub, the Outrigger, opposite the river and we could see the tugs from the pub.  I also remember the Cress and the Vixen - I was born in 1942.
I have at least one photo of the Pamela Alice.

Pam Pilbury


Message posted 6-7-2010

My father Fred Gobbett started FG Towage on the thames in the early fifties selling out to Gaselees in the early sixties due to ill health. As a young boy i remember my mother launching the tug boat Efgee at Appledore in 1959. Any information etc from that period would be very much appreciated.

Peter Birch.


Message posted 6-7-2010

 I was on Blue Circle tug Concrete on the day Hawkstone was   lost. We passed Hawkstone in Sea Reach. The weather was very bad, high winds   heavy swell and a snow storm. We had water on the decks, Hawkstone  was taking water over the wheelhouse.


Message posted 17-1-2010

 Ref the Hawkstone incident: I was working on the River for Clements's and remember the incident.  The 4 crew members and 2 Lightermen were found in the wheelhouse of the Tug when it was salvaged.  The Hawkstone was in company with the Swiftstone.  The weather was very bad.  The Swiftstone turned back but the Hawkstone carried on.  The rest we know.

There was a massive collection for the families and I personally gave 10 shillings (a lot of money then especially when I only earned £2.10s!!!!)

Hope this helps you.

Ramsey Barber


Message posted 11-1-2010

 Anyone remember my father Horace Kidd - called Horry who was engineer on Gaselee tugs all his working life. He was a great story teller and used to entertain me with exciting happenings on the Thames particularly during war years.

Angela Kidd.