Marshall was born on the 24th October 1943 and grew up in Maidstone. His cerebral palsy meant that he had to be a “fighter” from the very beginning and he was unable to walk unaided until he was about eight years old. His determination took him through teacher training and he had a long career in teaching. Marshall taught woodwork, metalwork and history at the St. John Fisher’s School in Chatham. His great enthusiasm was for railways and other steam transport but he was also active in the Scout Movement and organised summer canal holidays for the school’s pupils. He was an enthusiastic member and supporter of the Kent and East Sussex Railway from its early days and it was through this organisation that I first met him in the early ‘70s when he helped with one of the exhibits at a Model Railway Exhibition in Guildford in support of the railway.
In 1985 the veteran paddle steamer Medway Queen was languishing on the mud outside Chatham Dockyard and Marshall decided that something had to be done to save it. Not that “somebody” should do it but that he would! He rounded up a number of people, instigated a public meeting and the Medway Queen Preservation Society was born. The intention was to support the ship’s restoration but within a couple of years the society became owners of the ship. Noreen Chambers has memories of Marshall and colleagues rowing around a creek in Strood taking soundings and counting how many shopping trolleys would have to be removed. My own involvement with Medway Queen was down to a chance meeting with Marshall in 1986 and I often claim that I became involved through “knowing the wrong people”; which amused him. A suitable site was eventually found and Medway Queen was re-floated and moved to a mud berth in Damhead Creek on the Isle of Grain.
Marshall was the first Chairman of the society and held that post until the deterioration of his health forced him to relinquish the post. John Chambers took over and Marshall was voted in as President by the society members. Despite a series of health problems Marshall retained his interest and enthusiasm for the ship. He would get down to the site when he could, encourage those who were able to work on her and those who worked off site fundraising and representing the society at events. A “tour of inspection” by The President was always a possibility, no matter how far afield you travelled.
Marshall’s health problems became more acute over the years and, with that his mobility decreased and a loyal band of friends became chauffeurs to get him around – often with his model railway – still attending exhibitions somewhere or other until only a few years ago. He continued to visit the ship on Gillingham Pier whenever he could. Marshall died peacefully in the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on Friday 5th August. He’ll be sorely missed and we all extend our greatest sympathy to his sister Diana, her family and to all his very many friends.
9 August 2016
Marshall's funeral will be held on Wednesday 31st August, 1.15pm at the Vinters Park Crematorium, Maidstone. There will be a “retiring collection” (after the service), cheques only and payable to “Medway Queen Preservation Society” please.
Photo: Marshall at the re-dedication of Medway Queen’s hull in Bristol on 27th July 2013. Picture by Richard Abels.