To mark Challenge’s arrival back to London this week , here is a short brief history in photographs of this wonderful and historic ship towage tug
1931 : CHALLENGE IS LAUNCHED
She was built in 1931 by Alexander Hall & Co Ltd., Aberdeen Yard Number 633.
Lloyds Register of Shipping (LRS) 54844. She was built for the Elliot Steam Tug Co., London, and the second tug to bear the name Challenge in the Elliot fleet, the previous one was built in South Shields in 1884 and was broken up in 1931. She is 110ft in length, 26ft 1″ in the beam and she draws 12ft 3″. Her engine is a triple expansion steam engine developing 1150 hp. The boiler was originaly built to be fired by coal, but later it was converted to oil firing.
AFTER DUNKIRK (Photo above – Fort No 4 being towed down river to the Grounding site 1st August 1942.)
Returning to the Thames, Challenge was equipped with a flying bridge to mount an Oerlikon cannon and a fore-bridge for two Lewis guns. Work included towing the Maunsell Towers out to the Thames Estuary where they formed the front line of defence against invasion. Later jobs included towing parts of the Mulberry Harbour which ensured the success of the D Day landings in 1944. In the same year, a VI flying bomb exploded in the water close alongside causing extensive damage and lighting a number of fires. Fortunately she survived and some of the shrapnel holes are still in evidence.
1942-1973 : BACK TO WORK & A PROUD CAREER
1973 : SAVED FROM THE SCRAPYARD & RESTORATION
Challenge was saved by Taylor Woodrow in 1973 and taken to St Katherines Dock. By 1993 Challenge was a victim of her age and neglect when in stepped the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust . Thanks to the generosity of Alexandra Towing and the Port of Tilbury, the Tug Sun Thames towed Challenge to Tilbury Docks where the restoration got under way.
Photo below : How Challenge was found in 1993
Photo below : Moving Challenge to Tilbury
CHALLENGE AT MARCHWOOD
In December 2000 Challenge was towed to Southampton were the trust have a very good relationship with the British Military Powerboat Trust. They had recently been allowed to Challenge to us the old Husbands Shipyard site at Marchwood near Southampton where it was proposed to create a heritage centre. There was also a large jetty and slipways capable of taking Challenge.
LONDON BOAT SHOW 2004
Challenge attended the 2004 London Boat show. This was one of the first events she attended after her restoration.
Since 2004 – 2013 a huge amount of restoration and rebuilding has taken place to further more restore Challenge to her former glory and appearance. Apart from a few minor differences (such as an enclosed wheelhouse) she is exactly as built all those years ago
Source/Credit : stchallenge.org