Whilst October each year usually heralds the end of our steaming activities with the tugs attendance at the excellent Leigh Arms Steam Party, this year we were denied that pleasure, but we more than made up for it with two pieces of fantastic news.
Firstly, we were honoured and delighted to be advised by the Lord Lieutenant’s Office that the The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society has been awarded a grant of £3,000 from The Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund. This is a Registered Charity set up with the consent of Her Majesty The Queen to benefit causes primarily within the Counties of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. Founded in the 13th century, the Duchy of Lancaster is a unique portfolio of land, property and assets held in trust for the Sovereign in Her role as Duke of Lancaster.
After several week of having to keep the secret, can now announce further fantastic news, that the Society has also been granted an award of £9,300 by The Heritage Lottery Fund under the “First World War Then and Now” scheme. In Kerne’s former guise as H.M.Tug Terrier she served the Royal Navy from 1913, playing a crucial role in HM Dockyard, Chatham during hostilities not only during the First World War, but also the Second World War before being sold into civilian service in 1948 and thereafter being transferred to Liverpool. This award will provide funds to replace boiler stay tubes in the vessel’s Royal Navy Chatham Dockyard- built boiler to enable her to steam to events as the last surviving operational ex Royal Navy steamship from the First World War. The work is being led by our volunteers who will also train young people in rare heritage boiler repair skills. The award will also assist us in researching and sharing the First World War heritage of Kerne as HM Tug Terrier and tell the story of her role in the naval dockyards, commemorate those who served in H.M.Tugs and enable visitors to enjoy Kerne at events and see what life was like aboard an ex Royal Navy coal fired steamship.
Following on from the Pilgrim Trust Award of £5,000 in June for essential Wheelhouse renovation and receiving The Queens Award for Voluntary Service, this has been an unbelievable year for the vessel and our committed band of volunteers.
Coming back down to earth, Kerne has been towed back to her usual berth at the eastern end of Sandon Dock by the World War II veteran tug ‘Seaport Alpha’ as work aboard continues. The news of the grant award has enabled us to put more resources into the boiler tube job, and now some 50 tubes have been removed, so this job is now well under way. Also below decks in the Engine Room, Dave has taken on the job of overhauling the suction valves which required some re-bushing and re-facing of the valve surfaces. He has also painted the valve wheels – very pretty! Whilst in the mood he has also overhauled the valves and linkages to the boiler water gauges. Moving to the Aft Cabin, the long-awaited sink is in the process of being fitted and plumbed in, and the microwave has been installed in the new portside cupboard. It is in danger of getting a bit too cosy and convenient down there! Following meetings with our joinery manufacturers and the clearing-out of the container to provide storage space, stripping-out of the wheelhouse has now started in earnest.
All-in-all, we have certainly had a few months to remember!