From the Chairman – The London Silver Jubilee Dinner, held in October within the historic environs of St. Katherine’s Dock, was a huge success. We greatly enjoyed Malcolm Cockell’s fine presentation on the raising of the Mary Rose. I think it brought home to us that we are just part of a widespread maritime restoration movement. Margaret Russell’s organisation was, as always, exceptional.
Waverley – Waverley’s bridge and the adjacent Captain’s quarters, which double as a chart room and office, have long needed attention. It is typical of the Waverley operation that other vital work has always come first, but now the substantial generosity of a lady member has enabled this much overdue work to go ahead.
London & Home Counties Branch – For our first winter session meeting nearly 50 members came for a triple bill Medway Queen evening. Margaret Russell spoke movingly of her husband’s extraordinary experiences as Medway Queen’s cook at Dunkirk when the ship sailed almost without a pause throughout the entire period. This fine little ship built for day sailings in the Thames estuary made over seven return trips to the beaches and brought some 7,000 men to safety. Bill Prynne recounted the story of the fight to save Medway Queen after she was withdrawn, and Chris Hall brought matters right up to date with an illustrated account of her recent salvage form the Isle of Wight.
Bristol Channel Branch – On 8th December we had a record 87 members for Martin Oatway’s films of cruising in the 1960s. We saw King George V at Oban and PS Ryde at Yarmouth Pier. For many it was the first sight they had of Waverley in the Sealink blue livery of the late 1960s. For the Society AGM a morning cruise in Bristol City Docks has been arranged. The sailing will be by the motor narrow boat Redshank. The cruise will cover the whole of the City Docks, fascinating for their history and Brunel associations.
Wessex Branch – On 3rd November Colin Harrison gave us an interesting Illustrated talk about the restoration and operation of Kingswear Castle. After the meeting nine members made the crossing from Southampton to Le Havre and return on the P&O Ferries vessel Leopard.
Scottish Branch – Waverley was tied up at Anderson Quay and work parties began in mid-November. Deck seating was selected for attention this winter, and in particular the bases of the buoyant seats required cleaning, sanding and re-varnishing. St. Andrew’s Night was almost by coincidence the date of the Branch’s 15th Anniversary dinner. The venue was Glasgow’s Grosvenor Hotel. Some 75 members were present for what was an informal occasion.
North of England Branch – On 21st October Douglas McGowan presented an interesting film show “When the Paddles Stopped Turning”. Unfortunately he was unable to join us on a visit to the control room of the Humber Bridge. This involved a great deal of stair climbing and proved to be very worthwhile.
Turning point in Kingswear Castle’s destiny – Perhaps the most significant advancement is the progress made with the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. We have agreement for the use of a number of buildings and Thunderbolt Pier which is accessible at all states of the tide. John Megoran has accepted the position as Master and Ship’s Manager. The commencement of our first year of commercial hire is in May. The groundwork has been set and if progress continues at the same rate as in 1984, then society members can have confidence that KC is in good hands.