Published: 00:01, 23 April 2014 |
Updated: 12:05, 23 April 2014
She was a heroine of the Second World War when she rescued thousands of allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk. She was beloved by those who boarded her on enjoyable day trips.
But the Medway Queen so nearly ended up on the scrapheap and only the efforts of loyal supporters saved her.
Today - St George's Day - she celebrates her 90th birthday, back where she belongs in Medway, after five years of rebuilding work in Bristol.
The restoration work continues but the days when volunteers had to scrape off the mud and patch up holes in order to move her to a temporary home at Damhead Creek, Kingsnorth, seem a long time ago now.
The founder members of the Medway Queen Preservation Society felt that the ship represented an important part of the commercial and maritime history of the River Medway.
It soon became obvious that millions would be needed for repairs and restoration and the society began the thankless task of bidding for funding.
She eventually got a £1.8 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund towards re-building her hull.
In November 2010, Antoine Porteneuve was appointed coordinator for the Heroes 2C project, a cross-border partnership with France and Belgium aimed at preserving maritime heritage and promoting tourism.
This initiative was partly-funded by the European Regional Development Fund which ended in December last year, but now a new deal has been clinched with an inter-Europe organisation.
Mr Porteneuve, 27, said: “The Heroes 2C project, combined with the heritage lottery grant, has allowed the society to make its biggest step forward in the preservation of the ship so far over the last three years.
“I was the first employee working in a small office in Strood while the hull of the ship was being re-built in Bristol.
"Three years later we are based on Gillingham Pier where we have set up a training centre for young people and have four qualified instructors. We have also set up a permanent visitor centre.”
The latest scheme Maritime Heritage Skills, will see them working with colleagues in this country and the Netherlands with a view to submitting a bigger application for funding to the EU.
If successful, it would secure finances up until 2020 when it is hoped the paddle-steamer will be up and running as a working vessel.
Brian Goodhew, 76, MQPS publicity officer, served on her for a spell in 1953.
He said: “It’s taken a long time and we have so many ups and downs. But we have finally got her home - and that’s the main thing.”
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
This is a brand new online resource covering every aspect of owning and improving a home in Kent and Medway.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Neil Miller, Hever Castle head gardener is new gardening blogger.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.