Firstly there was a problem with lighting in the lower saloon where the "Memories of Dunkirk" display is sited. A planned upgrade went wrong for a number of technical reasons but the work has now been completed and the jokes about torches and miner's helmets are behind us. The display showcases the recollections of crew and evacuated soldiers specifically relating to HMS Medway Queen; with all the excitement over Dunkirk and the new film at present here is a chance to learn directly from those who were there. The display comprises both sides of a 12ft long panel with secondary displays of the ship's wartime career and her rebuild in Bristol. This display will be on board until Saturday 4th September.
Our second problem was fortunately short lived. The nature of Gillingham Pier is such that to move a ship in or out often needs others to move out temporarily. This happened last week when another historic minesweeper took her place at the pier. MV Tongham is now berthed ahead of Medway Queen and it will be interesting to watch her future development. Moving Medway Queen requires a partial dismantling of the access gangway and we were unable to replace it in time for Saturday's visitors. Despite notices on Facebook and the website some visitors were disappointed, of course, but we hope they will be able to return and see the ship properly at some future time.
Our third piece of news on access is a true improvement. Since the ship's return from Bristol access to the aft saloon has been via a narrow temporary stairway. This has now been replaced by a full width steel access which will, in due course, be clad in timber to restore its original appearance. Handrails should be added this week and if they are complete the stairs will be in use. Otherwise, access will be via the forward saloon.
Our thanks to the volunteer teams who make all this possible.
Photos: Top: Part of "Memories of Dunkirk" - Richard Halton
Below left: New Saloon access - Andy Parker
Below right: Troops on board Medway Queen - PSPS Collection