VESPA’s sinking in 1953 – What happend?

Account in the words of K.E. Keenan 

“On the night of 24th November 1953 Gaselees VESPA was nearer Albert Dock coming down river on the beinning of the ebb tide with a tow of six barges.   Her skipper was Bill Turnwell , mate George Ogles , engineer George Baldwin and greaser Edward Littlejohn.     The mate Ogles had the wheel on this cold night when all of a sudden the Wilson Line ship MALMO rounded Gallions Point.

The MALMO sounded its horn to which the sound signal rapidly brought Turnwell and Littlejohn up from sleeping and onto VESPA’s deck.    VESPA was struck and holed in the port quarter and sank within seconds.   The rush of water into the engine room amazingly generated a blast of air out of one of the skylights which carried engineer Baldwin free with it.

By a stroke of fortune another Gaselees tug TAYRA was nearby.    Claude Finch was her master and Jack Miller the mate.   Having heard the noise and guessing trouble was afoot, the skipper shouted to the mate to let go off the tow.  TAYRA quickly went out in search and with the aid of a searchlight found the four men being carried away in the ebb tide.   They were soon plucked from the water and taken to North Woolwich pier where an ambulance took them onto Albert Dock hospital.

TAYRA then went in search of VESPA’s tow which was not too far away and was picked up.   VESPA’s engineer was in his sixties and in the 34 years he had been working for Gaselee he had never gone overboard once and must of realised that a gauridan angel was overlooking them that night.

VESPA was not on the bottom for long, the PLA raised her the next day.  She was repaired and re-engined and back in service a few months later”

VESPA was again involved in another incident in which a young man named David Sharp was not so lucky, he was the boy on VESPA and had worked for the firm for just over a year.   VESPA was off Battersea in the early hours of 17th Septebmer 1957 , making for Fulham with a tow.   David was asleep in the after cabin and just before dawn was called to commence his duties on deck.   The crew were concerned after David failed to appear and it was not until later that it was understood that David had tripped upon coming onto deck and stumbled overboard and tragically drown.

Amazingly VESPA still continues to operate today with Laxey Towing Company!

Thames Towage purchase FORTH DRUMMER

Thames Towage have purchased FORTH DRUMMER from Briggs Marine and the tug is said to be arriving on the Thames next week.

Details on the vessel can be read here -

Lambeth Council vote to build Garden Bridge

After great coverage by twitter page SE1 , Lambeth Council voted at 9pm this evening during a planning committee to go ahead with the building of the Garden Bridge at Waterloo which will cost tax payers a large sum.

This does not mean the bridge will be built however, as this falls to another meeting by Westminster Council who also have to vote next month.

Various Lambeth Councillors expressed these views about the bridge:

“It is not difficult to cross the river – lots of bridges nearby”
“I just do not think this proposal is going to add to the amenity and enjoyment of the South Bank”
“we need to beg the Garden Bridge Trust to do much more to genuinely work with local people”

Visualisation of the view at night

Thames Garden Bridge – Pros and Cons?

What are your views on Joanna Lumley’s £150m garden bridge idea which is set to get the go ahead?

Below are a few pro’s and con’s that i have put together from various sources online:

Visualisation of the view at night

– plants and flowers – so that makes it ‘green’
– It will attract visitors to London and boost local economy
– A place to relax amongst the urban surroundings
– Another crossing for pedestrians in the area
– the construction will bring work to local tug and boat operators

- Part of the costs , Millions coming from tax payers money , money better spent elsewhere
– The bridge supports restrict the size of the navigation channel making it more dangerous
– Classed as a ‘vanity’ act for Boris Johnson
– South bank already has trees and grass, some of it would have to be removed to build the bridge
– Not in the right place , Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges in close proximity as river crossings
– Costs to maintain the bridge and plants
– Trees could uproot in strong winds and fall from the bridge some say
– There are already areas of green locally
Post your views below

Battersea Cranes arrive at Tilbury

Another barge full of sections of the two Battersea Power Station cranes arrived at Tilbury Dock today for storage before being restored in the next few years ready to return to the Power Station in 2017.

These shots were kindly taken by Malcolm Hooley of the SWS BREDA entering Tilbury Lock

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Photos by Michael Stephen Cossey

Knoydart replacement for Predetor II

The KNOYDART will replace Predator Charters PREDATOR II for a few weeks as of Monday acting as crew boat/ferry between North Greenwich Pier and Trinity Buoy Wharf whilst the PREDATOR II has new engines fitted and a lick of paint.  The KNOYDART arrived on the Thames at Greenhithe last year from Scotland (hence the name).

The vessel will operate 5 days a week from 5am until 7pm the same as the current Predator service which provides a shuttle for Thames Clippers crews to get from one side of the river to the other although paying passengers can also use the service to cross at a small charge.




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Inside River Princess – Interior photos

Here are some further interior photos showing the build and progress on Thames Cruises RIVER PRINCESS ex Chevening

Top Deck in 2014

 Top Deck in 2007

Wheelhouse in 2014 and 2007


Lower Deck 2014 and 2007



VIDEO – General VIII tows Waverley

Updated – Waverley Timetable

Below is a more detailed running order and timetable for Waverley starting this Friday











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