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.
On Sunday 31st July, David Coleman celebrated his 80th Birthday by having a family picnic on the Medway Queen paddle steamer. David a former Chatham Dockyard apprentice had told his family stories of sailing in the Medway Queen in her passenger carrying days and the family thought it would be a good idea to reunite them together once more for the celebration.
The event was a great success and the guests were given an informative tour of the vessel by Brian and his colleague Joe followed by a video presentation of the history of the ship including the ongoing preservation, this helped make the event a memorable and unique experience.
Following on from the picnic in the forward part of the ship the guests then sat on the aft deck for a pleasant afternoon in the sun to finish off the day.
Stewart & Janette Coleman and Marie & Bruce Cameron