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Rochester Bridge Trust Aids Medway Queen Restoration

The Rochester Bridge Trust has made a £1,500 community grant to the Medway Queen Preservation Society to reconstruct a bow rudder for the Medway Queen. The paddle steamer, which was built specifically for services on the River Medway and the Thames, is the only surviving estuary paddle steamer in the UK.

The Medway Queen, which also took part in the evacuation of thousands of British soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in the Second World War, needs a bow rudder to enable it to be steered when going astern where water space is limited – as on the River Medway.

Russell Race, Senior Warden for the Rochester Bridge Trust, was given an overview of the challenges facing the Medway Queen Preservation Society, when he visited their apprentice-training workshop in Gillingham. Using the original 1924 plans for the vessel, the society and its apprentices are restoring the bow rudder and replacing its rotten wood. The Trust grant will pay for new timber to be attached to the rudder blade. Craftsmen and apprentices with strong woodworking skills from the society’s French partners, are assisting with the bow rudder restoration.

Following his visit to the workshop at Pier Road, Gillingham, Mr Race said: “The Rochester Bridge Trust is pleased to be supporting the preservation of this remarkable paddle steamer, which has such strong associations with the River Medway and did so much to rescue 7,000 troops from Dunkirk. The engineering challenges are tremendous but also exciting, and it is good to see apprentices learning traditional skills alongside experienced marine craftsmen.”

The Trust, one of the oldest charities in the country, is responsible for providing a crossing over the River Medway at Rochester in perpetuity at no cost to the public. Careful management of its original medieval endowments enables the Trust to maintain its current bridges and plan financially for the future.

The Trust makes community grants available from time to time to support a range of projects combining its interests in the history of the River Medway, engineering and conservation.

Preservation of the Medway Queen has also attracted financial support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore the hull, and from the European Regional Development Fund.


1. The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charitable trust that exists to maintain the old and new bridges at Rochester and serve the travelling public. It is the only surviving bridge trust still serving its original purpose, and it has served the people of Kent since 1399. The Trust also supports numerous community and education projects across historic Kent and Medway.

2. The Trust’s assets all derive from endowments of land and money in the 14th and 15th centuries and are carefully managed in order to provide an income to fund bridge maintenance and local charitable grants. The Trust receives no external funding and is regulated by the Charity Commission.

For more information:

The Rochester Bridge Trust
5 Esplanade
Kent ME1 1QE
Tel: 01634 846706
Fax: 01634 840125

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