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Initial contact should be made via the contact or enquiry button in the main menu above. Please leave your message on the form which appears and state if you wish it to be published in the mess room pages. If you wish to submit photo's to the site please indicate this in your message and further instructions will be sent to you by return. Some notes re photo's appear lower down this page.
If you send a message and indicate that you wish it to be published, this is where it will appear in edited form. It will be edited (a) to keep a uniform format, and (b) to eliminate any spurious or abusive posts which unfortunately do occur. Do not worry your post will not become unrecognisable!
 To view 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013  messages click on a link at bottom of this page.
Please note it is NOT our policy to publish your e-mail address on site. This is to protect your privacy and prevent you receiving spam. If your message results in somebody wishing to contact you, this site will send you an e-mail asking if you wish your e-mail address to be revealed to them. NO RESPONSIBILITY IS ACCEPTED FOR ANY INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANISATION WHO MAY CONTACT YOU.
 If you are sending photographs please use a fairly high DPI setting [300dpi is fine] and aim for a width of about 800 pixels in jpg format. This allows more scope in editing this end. Please send as an E-mail attachment and NOT embedded in the text of the message containing any information about the photos. A maximum of three attachments to any one message please. All this makes life simpler and easier for me!!!
Please do not let any of the above deter you from sending the photo. If you are unsure send it anway and I will try and sort it out this end. Many thanks and I look forward to seeing many more of your photographs.
ALL photographs will appear first on the latest news page. This is normally updated once a week, usually Friday or Saturday. I always try to be fair and publish pics in the order they are received, so please be patient, it may be a couple of weeks before your photo's are published as I usually have a backlog.
message posted 19-01-2023
I'm looking for an old friend, Robert Clements who worked for Marriott's as a Lighterman in the 60's, so did his father. He lived in Loampit Vale, Lewisham and I thought he may have had a pension through Marriott's. If you have details would you be so kind as to pass my details onto him. This would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.  Anna Giacomelli-Hopkins.
Message posted 5-5-2022
My father worked on the Thames tug boats before and during the second World War. His name was Harold (Larry) Lambert. He has been deceased for several years but I would appreciate contact from anyone who knew him. Thanks Jenny Jones


Message Posted 4-3-2021
" In 2006 Terry Thomas posted on this site that George Buchan (Captain, Oceana) was his great grandfather. George Buchan was also my great grandfather and Terry is a distant cousin who I was previously unaware of. I would very much like to make contact with Terry but the contact details for Terry held by the Thames Tugs website are no longer current. Can anyone help with contact details for Terry Thomas please? I can be contacted via the "Contact Site" button on this website. Tricia Everett"
Message posted 31-1-2021
 I served on HMRT Jaunty and Assiduous in 45-46. Now I am 94 and wondering if I am the last one standing.   -  Leonard Seward.


Hello, I was wondering if anyone had any information and/or stories on/about any of the Hoiles family from Gravesend. Or, if anyone had information on Bill Young. Maybe they were on the Tanga. Also, I believe one of the tugs that they might of been on was named Sun (not sure the #). There were a lot of men in the Hoiles family. Nel Hoiles is my Nan. She was the mother of Joyce, Tommy, Georgie, Johnnie, David, and her youngest is named Mick Hoiles (he is my Dad).
-Thanks a lot,
Leon Hoiles

Barry Sutherland  - - I worked with Bill Young in the Tanga early 60's i was third hand & Bill was Chief engineer.


Bill East - I worked with your dad Mick Hoiles on the ‘Contest’ also Mick Reader and Arfa Judd 2nd engineer , your Nan used to work in the ‘Crown and Thistle , if my memory serves me well, all about 1968 and ‘69


Rodney Owen - I went to Milton Road School with Mike Hoiles, @ the age of five & we was Great Pal's until he went to the U.S., Was with Bill Young on the Tanga, Cyril Phillips Master, Jacko Boyd was Second, Albert James Fireman, Young Scot's Lad was Junior Fireman, Dave Waghorn Third Hand, Roy Chapman Mate Myself Deckhand, What a Lovely Crew,


    Rodney Owen - Nelly Hoiles Mike's Mum was Barmaid in the King's Head Brother John'y He also had another Brother Tommy & Sister, cant remember her name, Mike being the Youngest, He also had Family that lived on the Isle of Dog's, we were Tied up at the Millwall cutting S W India Dock's once waiting for the Bridge & Mike jumped ashore to see his some of his family that lived very close, he was back within half an hour, Mike Lived in Prospect Grove, i Lived around the corner in Prospect Place,

20-4-2021   It was great to receive the messages/history about my family and Dad. It was very nice to see the smiles on my Mum and Dad's face when I showed them. This website is fantastic. I'm also very grateful to anyone who posted a message.
 Leon Hoiles



I first went on the Tugs as an 8 year old with Dad (Reg Merchant) when he was Skipper on the Sun III at North Woolwich Pier. Health and Safety would not allow it now days. Can well remember him having to get the crew back from the Royal Pavilion especially on a Sunny Afternoon and the long walkr through the Woolwich Tunnel. I know he was on the Sun XVI on the tow of the Baron Douglas that’s shown on pictures T39 and T40.

Also interesting that there has never been any mention of my Mum’s Cousin in any of the messages who was badly injured aboard the Sun XIX  with a broken leg when a tow line parted whilst towing a Brazilian Navy Training Ship into the Pool of London. He suffered a broken leg and following treatment in St Thomas’s suffered a blood-clot which caused a heart attack. His name was Reg Still (Otherwise known as little Reg as my Dad is 6’2” and little Reg was about 5’). Think this occurred in the early 1980’s.

 Or the time HMS Jupiter was leaving the Pool of London on the 13th June 1984 and Dad in the Sun III as one of the two escort Tugs was told to let go the ropes as the Navy Skipper thought he could manoeuvre out under his own steam and ended up running into London Bridge for which the Navy Captain Commander Colin Hamilton was court martialled.Further on from this the two Tugs in attendance were the Ionia and Sun Swale. Likely that Dad was Skipper of the Ionia but she also skippered the Sun Swale on occasion. He was Skipper in the Swale she ran aground outside Ramsgate when she was assisting a Sally Line Ferry and got pushed onto the sand bar outside the entrance by the ferry causing damage to the Voith table. The other thing I remember was when they took the Swale over from the French and she was dry-docked at Sheerness she was found to be running alive with cockroaches and had to be fumigated before anybody could start work on her. - Peter Merchant


Message posted 19-7-2018
I am doing some research on the death of my grandad in 1951, his name was Walter James Bright (jim) his dad John owned a tugboat and they took it out on a Sunday for a picnic. My Nan and grandad were on board with my mum and aunt who were 5 and 11. They both fell in when trying to board a rowing boat my Nan was saved but his body washed up at Woolwich a few days later. I can’t find any info and any help would be really gratefully received.  He died on 24 June 1951, he was known as Jim but his name Was Walter James Bright, my nan’s name was Margery Bright
A rescue boat was sent out for them, as that is all my mum remembers About the day (she was 5) my aunt Gloria was also thereShe was 11 or 12.His Dad was called John Bright and was the boat owner Many thanks

Christy Perry
If anyone can help Christy please send info to site via contact button in top menu. Many thanks.
Message posted 15-4-2018
A message to all ex Ship Towage tugmen. Does anybody have a picture of Roy Bailey that they would be willing to let me have for my own personal interest and possible uploading to my website relating to the book I have published? Thanks in advance. -  Tony Edwards.

Message posted 26-2-2018

In reply to Alan Bailey's message, March 2010. I knew his father Roy well. I worked with him on the Atlantic Cock for almost 2 years and would be happy to exchange messages with him. - Tony Edwards
Message posted 26-2-2018

Hi A message for Angela Couves who wrote in December 2014. I worked with both her grandfather Bill and her great grandfather Arthur and would be happy to exchange info with her.- Tony Edwards



Message posted 31-8-2017
I have noticed that on this site, there is mention of a John Grainger. My father was Donald L Grainger and worked on the Sun Tugs during the WW2. Is John Grainger a relative and does anyone remember my father at all working on the tugs up until the late fifties? Any response would be greatly appreciated.- Mike Grainger.
In response to Mike`s e-mail I am not, alas, related to your family. I was on Sun tugs in the 1960`s.
Cheers, J Grainger.


Message posted 27-4-2017
Please is there anyone out there that knew my dad Ray Cook, he worked on the tugs, does anyone have photographs of the tugs he worked on he is 84 years old and would love to surprise him with something special he worked on the tugs between 50s and 60s and his skipper george dowman I would appreciate any news
Kind regards -  Chris Cook

Message posted 12-4-2017
This is a response to Angela Couves.
Hi Angela,I knew your father Bill, my father worked with him on the tugs. My name is John Bailey, we lived a few doors down from you in livingstone rd. your dad would walk the dog on Southfields playing fields, where I would practice my golf. He would always stop and have a chat he give me good golf tips, he was very kind, and a very accomplished golfer, kind regards  - John Bailey.
Message posted 31-3-2017
Bit of a shot in the dark,when I was 12 I went to work with my dad,he was an engineer on the Ionia. Like my dad,he's brothers,and there father, (my grandad) i also wanted to be a tuggie was a very cold winter morning and we were tying up to go home on the Essex side of the Thames opposite woolwich just down from the ferry.the deck hand jumped from the boat to the pier to tie up, he slipped and went in to a very cold river. The mate who was bringing the Ionia in did not see what was happening so I shouted up to the wheelhouse,man overboard but he thought I was larking around, there was nobody else on deck and he told me to shout down to my dad. Dad got him back onboard and he was ok but a little cold. I remember walking back through the woolwich tunnel he was still shivering. My name is John bailey dads name was Tom bailey.I believe The deck hand went to work in the Middle East .l think the year was approx 1963, if you are the deck hand or any of the crew and remember this it would be nice to here from you. - John Bailey.
6-4-2017  Could you let JOHN BAILEY know that the chap that fell overboard Was RODNEY the third hand . Have been in contact so he knows John is looking for him - DOUG HARDY



Message posted 23-12-2016
I have just read your message regarding your father Roy Bailey. I am your cousin John Bailey, and our fathers were brothers my father being Tom Bailey. I remember you when we all used to live in Gravesend. You used to live in Barr or Combe Road. Your brothers and my brothers and sisters all used to play together before you left Gravesend and unfortunately we all lost contact then. Nice to know your still around. - John Bailey

Message posted 19-11-2016
I am just writing to let you know that my father, Leo Desmond (mentioned on these pages), who was present at the age of 15 on the Sun VIII at Dunkirk, is following the news of the Thames Tug family from his home in Brisbane, Queensland at the age of 91.
If anyone has updates on the crew of the Sun VIII from those heady days in 1940 he would be happy to hear of them. - Jonathan Desmond.

Message posted 24-9-2016
when peter nash had his ford zephyr he was in the same crew as my father working for ship towage I think he and his brother left the tugs to run an engineering business. - Kevin Haydon

Message posted 25-8-2016
Is anyone still in contact with Mick Whitlock who was on the sun tugs in the 1960s/70s I believe he is a cousin of Bobby French I would like to get in contact again.- Mick Collins.

Message posted 23-8-2016
I wonder if it is possible to find out about any of the tugs my father used to work on in the 1960s. His name was William (Bill) Nash and we worked out of Gravesend which is where we lived. His brother (Peter Nash) also worked on the tugs. Unfortunately I do not know which Tug Company they worked for. Any information gratefully received. -  Anthony Nash.
Can anyone help on this please??
Message posted 3-7-2016
Would like to contact Eric Causey as i have found some intresting photos - Steve Kelley
Are you out there Eric. if so please make contact to be put in touch!!!
Message posted 18-5-2016
Thanks to all the answers re: coaling.
Eric, hi was with you on SUN VIII (oil burner) think the only coal job was SUN ? 1961, (RISE and SHINE?),

Michael Robinson, hi. Was Freddie Jones, from Charlton with you on the RACIA.

Cheers, John Grainger.

Message posted 17-5-2016
In answer to john grainger, where did woolwich watkins tugs coal, in 1961 i was 3rd hand of the Simla, later i was fireman of the Muria / Racia, in them days we always bunkered at the coal hulk Artemis at Gravesend, in the Simla we had the main bunker, but she also had wings, they were round metal caps that were turned and lifted out of the deck, as 3rd hand it was my job to go down those wings and trim the coal to fill them up, you came out looking like one of the black and white minstrels. only once can i remember going down barking reach and coaling, happy days, what would health and safety say if you did that now !!! - Nolly Harvey.

Message posted 25-4-2016
Ref Coaling. I was on the tug Racia for two years 1962 based at North Woolwich. when we needed coal we would steam to Gravesend coal hulk. Never heard of coal delivery. Maybe in the early years.
Coal dust was not a problem really it was that extra bucket load of coal put on the deck that our skipper always had. Hard work pushing it into the hold, then most of it had to remain on deck for days. I hated coaling day.- 
Michael Robinson.

Message posted 10-3-2016
Ref coaling.i was in the sunrise in the early 60s,we used to bunker from a barge and steam crane which was moored just above the south dock on the north shore,all doors and hatches we shut during this operation,coal dust went everywhere,we spent the rest of the day washing the tug down.......can still see black faces and white happy days. - Eric Cawsey.
Message posted 10-3-2016
The sun tugs bunkered coal at Wapping from barges down from Battersea, also by Harrisons coal hulk in top of Woolwich reach, plus there was a small coaling barge and crane opposite co-op Woolwich Reach, which PLA s.t. Thorney the Artemis in Gravesend reach; the dust went everywhere,, - Bill Simson.
Message posted 8-3-2016
Where did the Woolwich based coal fired Sun tugs bunker? I assume Ship Towage bunkered at North Woolwich pier, supplied by the Coal Merchants opposite by the railway station ?
Cheers, John Grainger
Interesting question. Must be an old hand out there that can answer it please!!!.
Message posted 14-1-2016
To Tony Edwards, I remember you well as I was in No10 relief and we relieved the Moorcock. Call me or email me your phone number and I will call you. Bob McKechnie.
Message posted 5-1-2016

Greetings to all my fellow Thames tugmen. I am in the process of writing a book about my seafaring exploits, beginning with my 6 years with Ship Towage. I joined relief crew 4 as cook in 1958, later third hand on Atlantic Cock and finally deckhand on Moorcock. I would be exceedingly grateful to anybody who would be willing to share information with me as my memory of some things is now somewhat vague. It has been wonderful for me to have found this site and seen faces that I remember. Thanking any interested parties in advance.
Tony Edwards