The PB Alligator & PB Sabina finally emerged from West India Dock today. The owners of the two have been a little bit of a mystery, however today may have shed some light on who the new owners could well be.
The two vessels departed West India Dock and were seen taking bunkers alongside GPS Battler at Vic Deep before departing for the River Medway. Although unconfirmed, the crew onboard the two tugs were GPS Marine and heading for the Medway would make the new owners being GPS Marine quite likely. Although as said above, this has not yet been confirmed.
Either way, its always nice to see new vessels arrive and enter service on the River Thames and no doubt both boats will look much smarter after refit
At 0645am this morning HMS President left her Blackfriars mooring where she has been moored since 1922 under tow by GPS Anglia, GPS Iberia and GPS India. The vessel had to vacate its mooring due to the Thames Tideway Tunnel project and is due to be towed to Chatham until a new mooring can be found.
Three stan tug 1606’s have arrived on the Thames and are currently moored on Thamescraft moorings at Greenwich. The vessels are named PB Beadon , PB Sabina and PB Alligator, all built in 2009 by Damen and powered by 2 x Catapiller C18 TA/B engines rated at 1200bhp.
The vessel PB Beadon is confirmed as being purchased by Thamescraft Drydocking and is to be renamed DEVOUT , however the later two vessels owners are yet to be confirmed.
Quote from current owners:
“Since 1922 HMS President has been moored on the Embankment near Blackfriars Bridge.
Before then she sought to destroy “U” Boats in WW1, as a secretly armed “Q” ship.
Throughout her time on the Thames she has fulfilled a number of roles including protecting St Paul’s Cathedral during the Second World War.
Due to the upcoming construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel to tackle sewage discharges into the River Thames, HMS President (1918) has to leave its traditional mooring next to Blackfriars Bridge on Saturday 5th of February at 02:00
To get her ready to be towed downriver, her funnel and wheelhouse will shortly be removed so she can pass underneath the various bridges downstream.
The current management team are working hard to secure a new mooring along the Thames, which requires a lottery grant and permission from the Port of London Authority.”
No mooring has yet been secured and it is said she is due to be towed to Chatham, which is a little concerning due to the fact HMS Chrysanthemum was towed to the Medway and the hull was deemed too corroded and she was later broken up in 1995. Fingers crossed this old girl does not follow the same fate.
In the second of a series of blog posts, we take a look back at some of the most prominent attempts at operating a commuter service on the Thames from the early 1900’s to the present. In this post, we take a look at R.G Odells successful attempt to operate a waterbus/commuter service from 1946 – 1962. During this time Odell operated around 24 passenger vessels.
R.G.Odell entered the Thames passenger trade in 1933, having previously been involved in the lighterage business. Odell came from a long line of Thames watermen and had won the coveted Doggett’s Coat & Badge in 1902.
In 1946 the London Transport Board looked at running a water bus service on the Thames and R.G Odell set about providing suitable vessels. The first boat to be pre-war was the Oat , followed by Obe , Ocenia and Odelia. The vessels were wooden hulled with a square stern, fore and aft saloons and steering position central. It appears the forward saloon could be removed as various photos show the same vessels with enclosed saloon and an open foredeck. Photo below.
The service began on 7th July 1947 operating from Putney to Charing Cross and connections to Greenwich. The service was so successful that an additonal service was added shuttle passengers to Tower Pier. Further boats were added in 1947/8 – Oenid, Officer, Organic. Odell completed the fleet with Oinette and Ojonto, and also built three larger boats Zodiac, Fordson and Prefect for the Ford service. In 1950 Ford Consul was added to the fleet with Santosy and Santina for shuttle services.
1951 saw a particularly busy year for services on the River with the Festival of Britain on the south bank, one of odell’s vessels , the Zodiac was renamed Festival to mark the occasion.
From 1952 Odell began to run London Dock cruises and in 1958 bought the vessels TitLark I and II from County Cruises and renamed the boats Okra and Oleander.
The water bus service ended in 1962 with the vessels being sold to Thames Cruises (R.G Odell and son Leslie both directors). The company was bought out by Thames Launches in 1966. Some of the vessels remained on the river, however most were sold off and many have been lost without a trace. It is believed none except for Zodiac now survive mainly due to being wooden hulled. Zodiac is now a houseboat at Hoo Marina in Kent.
In the first of a series of blog posts, we take a look back at some of the most prominent attempts at operating a commuter service on the Thames from the early 1900’s to the present.
In this post, we take a look at London County Council’s attempt to operate a paddle steamer service using approx 30 steamers between 1905 – 1907. The service officially opened by the Prince of Wales on 17th June 1905 (photo below) which would run between Hammersmith and Greenwich.
The paddle steamers were built at 4 separate yards these were Thames Iron Works , J.I Thornycroft at Southampton , Rennie at Greenwich and Napier and Miller at Glasgow.
The vessels were 130 feet long, 18 feet breadth and 120 gross tons with a carrying capacity of 530 passengers. A single boiler fed steam to the compound diagonal engine of 350 IHP, which turned the two 10ft 6-inch paddle wheels giving a speed of 12.5 knots. Scott’s Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Greenock, and Thames Ironworks supplied the engines
The service ran at a loss due to low passenger numbers and by 1906 the winter service ran a reduced service to save costs. Although an agreement was reached with The Thames Steamboat Company ,a rival company which also shared the same piers and tried to undercut L.C.C , an agreement was made over fares routes and piers in the spring of 1906,however takings during the summer of 1906 was well below expenditure. In the summer of 1906 the decision was taken not to run a winter service and that in 1907 they would only run a service for 4½ months in the summer. In early 1908, the Committee recommended selling or chartering all the boats, following an earlier decision to sell off just six boats. Attempts to sell the whole fleet were unsuccessful and the boats were sold over the period from April to July 1909, for a total of £18,204.
A rival company, The City Steamboat Company bought fourteen of the boats and tried to run a profitable service but even they had to concede defeat at the beginning of the First World War. Many of the other boats were snapped up at their bargain price and ended up being used all over Europe including Mesopotamia, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany and Russia
A complete history of each steamer and its fate can be found here