pre war years
The Medway Queen was built at Troon in 1924 specifically for the New Medway Steam Packet Company Ltd. for operation on the River Medway. The ship was ordered in 1923 at a cost of £21,500 for completion in 1924. She was built by the Ailsa Ship Building Company of Troon on the river Clyde using a traditional frame on plate technique. The hull was flush riveted and the internal joints on bulkheads were secured using round head rivets. The engine was also constructed by Ailsa, being a compound diagonal steam engine (with two cylinders working at different steam pressure and set at an angle between vertical and horizontal). A bow rudder was later fitted, in 1936, to better enable the ship to manoeuvre in harbour and the boiler was replaced and converted to oil firing in 1938. The new boiler was constructed by Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Company in Newcastle and installed in Chatham Dockyard.
In the early part of the 20th century a trip on a paddle steamer was a high-spot of a family's summer with the Medway Queen's decks often being full of holidaymakers. During these times most seaside resorts had their own pier where many paddle steamers disembarked their passengers. The Medway Queen mainly operated between Strood, Southend and Herne Bay; calling at Sun Pier (Chatham) and Sheerness. Additional trips to destinations such as Clacton and occasionally Margate were also advertised. She would normally leave Strood Pier at around 9am and call at Sun Pier (Chatham) shortly after. The Medway Queen carried many people on her various excursions from the Medway Towns during the 1920s and into the 1930s.
In September 1939 the ship assisted in the evacuation of children from her home county of Kent to East Anglia as part of an operation contracted to General Steam Navigation of which the New Medway Steam Packet Co. was a part. Embarkation was from the Ford Jetty at Dagenham on the 1st and 2nd of the month and from Gravesend on the 3rd.