Copied HOME      MEMORABILIA [3]


Yesterday [3-2016] I had the privilege of attending the ceremony to present Jack Roots with the Legion D'Honneur by the Mayor of Gravesham, Michael Wenban. This was awarded as Jack was at the Normandy/D.Day landings at Sword Beach, I believe on the tug Empire Betsy as second engineer. Jack spent his working life on the tugs, a couple of which were Sun XVII and Sun XXV. He now lives very happily in retirement care locally. We should not forget that he (and others) were very young men when they went over to France, prepared to put their lives on hold for the freedom of their country. - Graham Smith

10-4-2016  - Congratulations to Jack Roots so good to hear that he is well. Happy memories.
Regards Brian Biggs

 sir, i discovered your site some time ago. Many thanks for all of your dedication and contribution to the story of the river and it's people.My paternal grandfather william wood my father stanley wood and my uncle Alex wood all worked for william watkins. I was delighted to find information from Mr Harold Russell, who was as you know the skipper of the tug Dhulia who' swift action saved my fathers life in 1969. I was wondering how if you might have space for a small piece of family and tug memorabilia in the form of a letter in the cover of my grandfathers family bible where in he mentions where he bought the bible, the thames church mission boat, and that he is the fireman on the steam tug Nubia. if you think it would be a suitable item i would be happy to send you a copy of the cover - Sean Wood


Photos courtesy Sean Wood.

Memorial Plaque to John Stewart Watkins OBE in Staplehurst Church. Photo David Kent.
Pages from the first Sun Tug social club function 1954, kindly donated by Alan Speers. If anybody can throw any further light on some of the signatures please contact me, although there are obviously Directors and some masters names.
18-9-2010. 2nd from bottom is without a doubt J E Webb, i recognise his hand writing = was my old Captain Jack Webb. Nolly Harvey. 
 Early Sun tug advert. Photo M Wemban colln.
A cake made by Lesley Agar, as a birthday surprise for an ex member of the tugs crew that she works with. Photo Lesley Agar.
A clipping from The Gravesend Express, Wednesday, 19th February 2003, courtesy of Doug Hardy
An early W H J Alexander advertisement, courtesy M Wenban.
The sign from the old offices at Gravesend. Photo M Houckham.
23-1-2012 HI PETE
29 years ago ,we were given 6 bottles of ale each and a print of a 150 years of towage on the thames .i am wondering how many bottles there are  still not been open , mine has been in the cupboard as a souvenir  all this time.
24-1-2012 Re Doug Hardys bottles of beer for Towing on the Thames  150th anniversary I still have mine regards
 Tony Gregory.
Table mat showing SUN XXVI towing training ship Amerigo Vespucci. Photo [and mat] D Hardy colln

Watkins commissioned some art work from Harry Hudson Rodmell in the 1920's for promotional material such as calendars and he kept at it until the 1950's. The attached is from 1926. Kevin Haydon colln.
TC&D publicity material. Photo K Haydon colln.
Part of the minutes of a Ship Towage JCC meeting. Photo K Haydon colln.
Above items courtesy Kevin Haydon
Grocery bills. K Haydon colln
An advert from Ipswich 1968. K Haydon colln

Engineers were sometimes sent off to Glasgow or leafy Dursley to watch machinery being assembled and often given printed maintenance schedules etc. When crews moved more frequently from boat to boat they had to make up their own operating manuals. - Kevin Haydon
Menu from Ship Towage social 29-10-1956. Courtesy Kevin Haydon.