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Sheppey couple put rare maritime treasures up for auction

By John Nurden

A 290-year-old ship’s cannon rescued from the River Medway is to go under the hammer today.

It is one of 361 lots to be auctioned by Lambert and Foster from a unit on the Klondyke Industrial Estate in Rushenden Road, Queenborough.

The items are being sold by Jo Kavanagh and her partner Geoff Fray.

Jo Kavanagh poses with this old George ll ship's cannon
Jo Kavanagh poses with this old George ll ship's cannon

The couple are also getting rid of a 6ft ship’s wheel, a JCB digger, two mobile cranes, a tractor, two cherry-pickers and five boats.

Mum-of-two Jo said: “Geoff has been collecting these things for more than 40 years but the estate is to be bulldozed next year by the Homes and Communities Agency to make way for more housing so we thought it was time to have a clear-out.

“I am sure Geoff will be sorry to see much of it go. In an ideal world we would like the cannon to remain on Sheppey if an Islander would like to bid for it.”

The one-ton cannon, complete with a cannonball embedded in its muzzle, has a King George II mark on it.

It was pulled out of the Medway mud 30 years ago and is mounted on a mobile wooden block.

Jo, who hopes it could fetch as much as £1,000, said: “After the Dutch invasion of the Medway in 1667 the Royal Navy insisted that all ships docking at Chatham had to have the cannons removed.

The ship's wheel is six-foot in diameter
The ship's wheel is six-foot in diameter

“While one ship was being relieved of her weaponry in the 18th century, this cannon was accidentally dropped into the water.”

The ship’s wheel was salvaged from the King Orry when it was scrapped in 1978. It was the last steamship to serve the Isle of Man.

The great dispersal sale starts at 9.30am and features a portable building, a cement mixer, a 6ft mill stone, boxes of fluorescent light tubes, electricity generators, welding equipment, hydraulic jacks, steel cables, three outboard boat engines and a starter motor for a locomotive.

The boats include the 21ft long Debutante 21, the 19ft long Sea Witch 19 and a former Peel Ports wooden-hulled harbour patrol vessel from the 1960s with two diesel engines.

Auctioneers say the patrol vessel could be converted into a houseboat or to carry passengers.

There is also a partly restored 22ft Freeman river cruiser.

  • For details, call Lambert and Foster on 01892 832325 or email agric@lambertandfoster.co.uk. The catalogue is also available at the Klondyke Cafe.

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