The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd


June 2017

Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on July 6, 2017 at 1:25 AM

As reported in March, the efforts of our volunteer force aboard Kerne has once again been recognised by the Transport Trust in the form of this years Restoration Award, and our enthusiastic Mate, Paul Kirkbride, had the honour of attending the Presentation Ceremony at Brooklands Museum to receive the cheque and award from HRH Prince Michael of Kent. It was good to see that Paul had appropriately swapped his usual paint-splattered boiler suit for the kind of suit that comes with a collar and tie. He scrubbed up well!

Our attention quickly turned to our next ‘outing’ – a joint event on 18th June to celebrate Father’s Day and the 198th Anniversary (or maybe a practise run for the Bi-Centenary?) of the arrival of the first Trans-Atlantic sailing by a steamship, namely the S.S. Savannah that arrived in Liverpool on the 20th June 1819. Her engines were built by Speedwell Ironworks of Morristown USA who had an associated company in Scotland also known as Speedwell Ironworks, where Kerne’s engines were built. Preparation for the trip out into the Mersey began with the delivery of 10 tonnes of Russian coal. This arrived in half-tonne builders sacks, which, with the aid of a Hiab were emptied directly into the bunkers rather than on the quay for shovelling and barrowing. Much easier on the old aching limbs! Fires were lit and the boiler gently warmed through over the next three days when steam was available for warming the engines through for the Sunday trip. Painting of the interior of the Wheelhouse was completed and brass polished and general cleaning down gave the vessel a smart appearance for the trip. We also were very pleased and grateful to receive sponsorship from Morris Lubricants, the UK’s premier vintage machinery oil manufacturers who delivered aboard a supply of their steam and lubricating oils ahead of our trip. Apart from some confusion on timings with a number of the sailing contingent who had to be ferried out to the vessel by one of our members in his RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat for the uninitiated). A great day was had by all in the summer sunshine and flat-calm seas.

The RIB also came into play to ferry a number of our members to view the wreck of the S.S. Pegu. Built in 1921 for Burma Steamship Co, this 8084grt steamer was bound for Rangoon when on the night of 24th November 1939 she went aground off Formby and during savage attempts, she broke up. The wartime blackout of Navigation Buoys was blamed for the ships loss. All 103 passengers and crew were rescued.

Arriving back at Sandon Dock in the late evening, this voyage was marked by one of our newer members, Stuart Hall, being passed out as fireman by the Chief Engineer, having received the requisite instruction and training by experienced Engineering Crewmembers.

Such pleasurable activity did not halt ongoing works; a length of Forward Cabin bench seating having been manufactured and installed, a new section of steel deck has been installed on the port side and modifications have been carried out to the auxiliary generator casing to improve weatherproofing and vibration.

Away from the vessel, we had our Display Stand out at Lymm Transport Day on 25th June, this mixed event attracting good crowds that kept us occupied throughout the day.

And finally, for all you boat modellers out there, can I recommend July’s edition of the ‘Model Boats’ magazine, which not only features an article by our volunteer Matthew Jackson on his scratch-built model of Kerne, a feature on Mountfleet Models new commercially available kit of the vessel, not to mention a good article by my old work buddy Phil Scales on Hong Kong Empire Tugs.

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