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MESS ROOM 2008

MESSAGES JUNE - JANUARY 

 
Message received 24th June 2008
 
Hi,
 
I`ve attached a photo of my Gt.Grandfather`s (William Mason) tug Storm Cock off Blackwall in the 1880`s, she`s assisting the launch of a naval vessel.
 
Also can identify 'Miss Shrimper' in new photos.  She was Penelope Mordue, she lived in Gravesend.  We were 'good friends' for a couple of years and I can confirm that the year was either '63 or '64.  Pennie later went in to modelling.
 
Regards,
 
John Mason
 
John's pic will appear soon.
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Message received 23rd June 2008
 
Dear Tug!
 
Can you post these photos of the Sun XXIV.  I have been involved with her owner for the past 7 years now and to my mind she is the last true working Thames "SUN" in Europe?  For all the Engineers that know her, she has has a new "Kort" nozzle fitted and we have tweaked the old "K" series (still no turbo) Merlees somewhat now, (with the a good engineer) and "stick down" she will pull 25 tonnes plus and do over 15 knots.  Not bad for an old dock tug that is approaching her 50th year.  She also now has a 500 HP bowthruster!  She may be knocking on in years but she still has to be the best and most powerful coastal tug operating in Europe at present.
 
As a side note, we had the ATCL, Howard Smith, Adsteam, "Zoo Crew" gathering this afternoon here on the Costa Blanca, sadly consisting of only two (my father, me [junior Zoo Crew] and Eric Cawsey), as the other three are still working for Svitzer and have tried to burn there chains!  It was a good crack and I´m sure the photo´s will follow from Eric.
 
Tugging is a funny business, I have been on tugs since I was about 5 years old and had the official pleasure of being my fathers Engineer working on the tugs Kingston (Sun XXIV), Lowgarth and Deben.  I now work in distant climbs and the something seems to be lost in translation from the way I work, but it is of great honour still to all that have gone before me the words "Thames Tugman" hold a hell of a lot of weight, and will do all the time that I am involved in recruiting people!  I do have to indulge in (NGT´s) from the arse-end of nowhere, but that is life, I think that there even doing it on the Humber!
 
If you post on the river site the fact of two Gennings´s on one tug, it´s surely enough to sent the most saintly of men over the top!  I had enough of a welcome the last time I was in Tilbury towing out the M.V. Sealandia on the Sun London from the local´s! Ha ha!  Yes, for those who ask, my old man still plays cards and still keeps winning!  If said person is reading again, thanks for the mountain bike for my 8th birthday (1988), it was great, all paid for by what you lost on a short trip, what a walley, you should have done some painting and left the cards alone! (sadly I think that you are an engineer as well!).
 
 I have had the greatest of pleasures working with Capt. Stewart Brown on the Medway with the Mate Jason Knibb, we are and I am sure for many years be the youngest crew ever to operated on the Thames and Medway area as out combined age added to 65!  They were all great people whom I have great respect for, good and very competent chaps.  I will also take my hat of to anyone who moves ashore as you boys afloat really do become pains in the arse and how much the dip in wages hurts!
 
Well a beer to times past, even at 28 years old I can safely say we are now in the age of the "Plastic Tugman" (world wide), the age of all these great men doing a very skilled job has ended.  Roller out the plastic ASD and Voith skippers, don´t worry lads monkeys will be left!  Long live good and competent Engineers!  In the words of Magnus Magnusson, "We started so we will finish"  Shine does not always cover the shit!
 
Cheers,
Thanks & Best Regards
 
Darren T. J. Gennings.
 
Darren's pics will appear soon.
 
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Message received 20th June 2008
 
Re Tug Tanga
 
My grandfather John Boyd known as Jacko served on Tug Tanga. He never made Skipper as he was totally deaf. He went to Iceland and I am very proud to say that he helped in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. My father Peter John Rayfield sadly passed away in March this year. He was a Chief Engineer on the Tugs and often spoke about all the good times he had as well as some of the hair raising ones.
 
We have come across several items which you may wish to include on your site, some newspaper cuttings about the evacuation as reported in the local press of the day and some documents relating to the anniversary/thanksgiving service which was held in Dunkirk with seating plan and names of those attending.
 
Many thanks
 
Jane Cox
 
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Message received 31st May 2008.
 
For the mess room
to JOHN GRANGER ...FROM ERIC CAWSEY ....
HI JOHN ....Yes of course I remember you and the good times in the sun Vlll  our crew were Jack Webb (captain ),mate Jim Skinsley,(if I never see another  chipping hammer again it will be to soon!!) Deckhands Dave Cox myself ,Chief  Mick Mc Corry, Driver Pat Mahoney, fireman Lou Adler and yourself cook. I remember being on the pound with that oak knockaway cosh more than once  and thinking if this towline breaks then I'm a goner part of the job in  those days ....glad to say the job got safer over the years
MY Granddad George Cawsey  was blown up twice in the second world war. He  was Captain of the Sun Vll and the Sun Xll , my uncle Ken Cawsey was also  sunk in the Sunbird...I got out while the going was good !!!
I was surprised when you left the job to go deep sea, but am sure you had  your reasons ,it's good to see you remember your past so well they were good  old days with good blokes you could depend on!!
Have fun in the sun  speak soon regards Eric
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Message received 19th May 2008.
 
Great and really interesting web site,nice to recognise so many familiar names of past work mates ,,did make me smile to think about all the sodding about in tugs .. from boy cook in 1959 to chief Engineer and retirement in 2002 .After 43 years afloat i never forget a day of it,and miss my bunk desperately...but am still getting an afternooner occasionally (started,with Sun x... Sunrise..The Sun... with Captain Jack Sheret...and Bobby French Mate ) O what fun we had swimming in the after ballast tank of the Sunrise and playing darts in the "TOWN OF RAMSGATE" the local pub on pay at Wapping..until i transferred to Gravesend for many years and then transfered to Felixstowe to work the Deben with the "Zoo crew", Captain Tony Gennings,Clive Ilsley,Mark Hill (TATOOED SKELETON) and Mark Jewiss.. Oh What Larks we had ..I could go on forever talking about my days afloat .does anyone have information on Captain Jackie Webb, I was his deck hand in the Sun VIII in the early 60's.
Eric Cawsey.
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Message received 18th May 2008.
 
The picture of the regatta crew from Harold Russell, I can confirm the cox is Captain Russel the crew are Roy Smallwood (cinders) Jack Cox, Eric Watton and Roger Cole.
 
Rgds Bob McKechnie

 

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Message received 29th April 2008:
 
Hi thamestugs
 
Would any readers have archive information,photo's,crew listing etc.for Sun XII
as my grandfather Williiam Lawler was engineer on Sun XII during the 1930's and
through WWII,he was on Sun XII during the dunkirk evacuation.
 
Thanks Steve.
 
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Message received 28th April 2008
 
Hi Tug
 What a great site!.Found it by accident looking for old gravesend pctures to show my Niece. The picture of Dhulia towing the Medway Queen to the Isle of White at the top, i was cook on that trip in 1966/67 the crew were all sent that picture. The crew on that trip was H Russell, Stan ?, G Dunlop, A Dunlop, Spike Simmons, Len Aires,J Chandler, i cant remember the leading hands name.
  I would like to say hello to my mate Bill Costain, send me your email Bill. I would also like to say hello again to anyone who remembers me, and be interested in what your up to now.
  I am living in Portishead Bristol. I work for Svitzer in Portbury/ Avonmouth as skipper.
 
Regards Mike Reader
 
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Message received 21st April 2008
 
Hi, John Burgess here,
 
What a fantastic site.  Long overdue!!!  I worked on the Sun Tugs from 1955 to 1962 and went onto the PLA Tugs.  There does seem to be a few names on here that are familiar and so if anybody remembers me it would be lovely to get in touch.
 
Seen mention of Terry Morgan in some articles.  Would anybody who is in touch with him please pass my email address onto him as again it would be lovely to get in touch as we were very good friends.
 
Kind regards... John
 
John welcome and I have passed your address on to Terry.
 
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Message received 18th April 2008.
 
Hi Tug,
Nice to see the site is getting the attention it deserves. I would like to get in touch with Joe Hoarey we were crew mates on the SUN X1 if anyone knows of his whereabouts I would be really pleased to hear from them.
He would be 64 now not sure if he is still a tug man it would be nice to see him as our twilight years approach hope someone can help.
Kind regards
Ray Wood.
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Message received 15th April 2008
 
My late father, Tom W Morris, was, I believe an engine driver on the tugs PLAGAL and PLATEAU, and possibly the PLATINA. This was quite a few years ago. I am looking for photos of these tugs, but have had no luck so far. would anyone know where I could find these? My father was also on the BRENT which is moored at Maldon and I have just found the picture of this tug on 'Maldon Images'. Is there anyone out there who knew Tom (he was previosly a Royal Navy man) and who may have pictures of any tugs he was on?
Sharon Pickard.
 
I have replied and sent some pics by e-mail Sharon.
 
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Message received 14th April 2008
 
Hello Ron, [Clifford]
                Saw your message on the thames tugs site didnt know your dad but i am sure that my dad would have done, i do remember you from st. johns school though and i was mates with your brother Alan at the time when your family lived at mungo park, i remember alan telling me that your dad had passed suddenly, and i heard that he was driving at the time when it happened, i lost my dad back in 1986 he was the captain of the sun london at the time of his death, give my regards to alan who i have not seen since the early 70s, and all the best to you as well..........Pat Flynn.
 
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Message received 2nd April 2008
 
Tug
Re my model of Sun XXI
I only have a poor photo  from outside of the bridge cabin and wonder if you could furnish me with a brief detail or sketch or both of the furnishing layout in this and the flying bridge? upper deck ?. I'd like to make them as near realistic as possible.
I'm about to start constructing the radar mast for which I have reasonable good drawings.  This will be motorised.
Many thanks
Mike Duncombe
 
Can anyone help Mike with this please??
 
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Message received 30th March 2008
 
I am the archivist for the T.S. Exmouth Association and last week attended 
the funeral of one of our members whom I first met in 1942, his name was Len 
Farnham.
 
I am gathering material for his Obit. and wonder if anyone knew him in the 
years 1952 - 1976 when I believe he was Mate on a Heavy Lifting Barge on the 
River. Was it a PLA vessel? Was it possibly named "Goliath"?
 
Anything at all about his work there, anecdotes, information would be 
welcomed.
 
Thank You,
 
Patrick J. Jones.
 
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Message received 23rd March 2008
 
Hi Tug,  I have sent 4 photos for you. On your site you have a photo of me and Peter Carter in Perth. so I have 2 photos for you when I was in Ship Towage 1960 to 1965.  one as a cook in Relieve Crew No7, on the Crested Cock 1960.  and one as a 3rd hand on the Racia 1963. I hope you can use them. I'm not sure of the sizes.  I have also included a newspaper clip of the coal hulk Artemis which was moored at Gravesend to recoal Ship Towage Tugs.  Picture taken early 1960s. On the web I found some history about her but no photo as a coal hulk,  hopefully someone may have a better one.
 
I also worked on a Gravesend Pilot boat for 3 months before joining Ship Towage and I would like to known her name. This pilot boat replaced a wooden boat named  'Lady ???? ' but I cant remember her name and if someone has a photo it would be great to see. I have contacted PLA but they never get back to me.  Would you please post the  photos and ask for me. These are my photos except for the news paper clip. Thank you. Please keep this site going, I really do appreciate the work you do.   Michael Robinson.  Perth Australia.
 
Ps. Did you know that the old "Gravesend and Dartford Reporter" ran regular tug boat articles which had many photos of crew members and boats in the early 1960s. I did try to email them about obtaining copies, but they did not reply. Maybe I should write a letter?  Michael. 
 
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Message received 13th March 2008.
 
Hi tug,
 can you pass this onto the mess room fao Ron Clifford.
thanks
mike houckham
 
Hi Ron,
I knew your father well, I was on the Ionia at Harwich for a couple of years, until 1967 when I transferred to the Watercock.
At the time the crew were, Tubby Wotton Skipper, Tom Hills Mate, Brian Lockyear Deckhand, Mike Houckham Third hand, Nobby Hayden Chief engineer, Ron Clifford Leading hand, Percy Toms Fireman, Barry Smith Junior fireman, and Barry Lear Cook. Sadly camera ownership was still quite rare in those days, but Brian,Barry smith and Percy toms still live in the Gravesend area, you might want to try contacting them.Barry smiths email address is number 6 on the guestbook page.Also pictures of Nobby Hayden and Percy Toms are on the crews photo galleries page.
best of luck
Mike Houckham
 
 
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Message received 8th March 2008.
 
Hi Tug,
          My name is Ron Clifford. I worked for Ship Towage and London Tugs  from 1967-1973. I was cook and Junior fireman. I was wondering if anybody remembers my Father who's name is also Ron Clifford- but had the nickname of Smokey. He died unexpectedly young and at the time of his death he was chief engineer on the Iona- based in Harwich. In WW2 he was based in Londonderry where he met my Mother, Nancy. If anyone has any memory of him or working with him it would be appreciated.  Also, any pictures & stories it would be more than useful.
Thank you,
Ron
 
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Message received 3rd March 2008.
 
Hi Tug
         I saw the letter from Joan Panato in the Messroom section and would be obliged if you could forward this pic of her Dad ----Alf Dunlop------ stand ing on the deck of the Dhulia alongside Capt Harold Russell and Stan Wood the mate.I was inthe Dhulia with her father from when I joined the tug brand new at the builders in 1959 until I was promoted to mate in 1965.Previously I spent 5 years in the Napia where Joans uncle George was chief engineer
You may also send my e-mail adress as well
 Yours Sincerely
 Colin Gardner
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 Message received 1st March 2008:
 
Joan, thanks for your message 11 February. I've forwarded my email address via the site master.
My sign-off thoughts are that you'll have seen that Frank Cable made contact and, the same as you and I, would have spent lots of holiday time on board tugs during the school holidays (you with your spud gun and water pistol). Current Health and Safety people would be horrified, presumably, at the thought of young children wandering around working engine-rooms in their school plimsolls, or walking under tow-lines on deck whilst towing. Great fun, though. I've seen reference to Jackie Simmonds (junior) on these pages somewhere and we had pictures of him in our photograph album for years, showing him covered in muck and oil  whilst aboard with his dad.
Regards, Alan [Smith]
 
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Message Received 27th February 2008.
 
 Great site! I find more every time I look on here.  Thanks, keep up the good work.  I have just caught up with the site after a couple of months in New Zealand and read the letter from Alan Smith. That name brought back some memories, I can tell you. Alan, if you read this, please give my regards to your brothers Colin and Kevin. I know you had a sister but for the life of me, I can't remember her name.   Colin and Alan were older than me, but me and Kevin were good mates. I spent a lot of time in Miller Road. I remember your mum and dad very well, sadly missed, too early.
 
I would have thought if anyone would still be on the tugs it would have been Kevin.  You went to sea on Blue Star Boats, didnt you? Fell down a hold and broke a leg or something.  What does Kevin do now? Is he still married to Audrey? I am still married to Anne, like Kevin and Audrey, childhood sweethearts.
 
I would be interested to know if some other faces are still around. A good friend of mine from the Sun XIX days was Dennis Roberts. The skipper of the XIX was Harry Webb and John Bromley was mate, 'Percy' Pierd was the engineer. From my very early days starting on the tugs, was Derek Squires, I saw a photo of him in the 'crews' page, He was the deckhand when I joined the relief crew at Woolwich in 1967 and later the second crew of the Fossa.  Harry Lane was skipper, George (huge bloke) chief, and Peter Price second engineer.  Any of these names still around?
 
Best Regards
 
Frank Cable
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Message received 13th February 2008.
 
I worked at Sun Tugs repair yard for a period of 2 years after a short period
as cook aboard Sun xv under Skipper Fred Mastin. Previously I worked at K.G
Dock Pierhead office (Sun Tugs control centre). Also on Tunnel Pier with Bill
Brasted who ran the Sun Tugs coaling operations. I thank you for your website
which I find marvellous.
David Billett.
 
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Message received 11th February 2008.
 
In reply to Alan Smith:
Hi Alan,
Thanks for replying to my message.  I found the photo of my Dad, Alf Dunlop, on the Dhulia.  I remember that tug very well as I used to spend weekends on board when I was about 10 years old, after my Mum died.  I used to have water pistol and spud gun fights with some of the crew on deck !! 
I can remember  Percy Smith, was this your Dad ?
I expect you remember my brother Eric, he used to work on the tugs too. He now lives in Spain with his family,  I live in Italy with my family,  but my sister Lynda is still in Gravesend.
Best regards,
Joan Panato (Dunlop)
 
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Message received 29th January 2008.
 
Re the messroom message 16th January 2008 from Joan Panato (Dunlop)
Hi, Joan: I don't have a lot of information about your dad, other than to say that on one of the links within the thamestugs website  is to "thames tugs photo galleries" and your dad is pictured with the crew of the "Dhulia". I still see some of the crew in the picture around town.
My dad was skipper on the Vanquisher for a long time, and of course I remember you and your family.
Best regards, Alan Smith.
 
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Message Received 16th January 2008.
I have just come across your site and was interested to read about some of the tugs my father was on.
His name was Alf Dunlop and he spent his whole life on the river, starting out on the barges when he was 14 in 1925 and then joining Watkins tugs.  During the war he was on the Tanga, spending 2 years in Iceland and then being sent over to Dunkirk.
He was engineer on the Vanquisher and then chief engineer on the Dhulia.  He later came ashore and worked as assistant marine superintendant based in the offices on the pier in Gravesend.
I was wondering if anyone had any information or photos of him.  He died in 2002 age 91 and we miss him a great deal.
Regards,
Joan Panato (Dunlop)
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