Blitz And Dunkirk Veteran Thames Fireboat To Be Restored

By Culture24 Staff | 15 October 2008
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a photo of a boat moored at a dock

The Massey Shaw at the present time moored at Deptford. Courtesy HLF

An historic Thames fireboat that took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk and fought London Blitz fires is to be restored thanks to a £425,000 Lottery Grant.

The Massey Shaw, which can claim amongst other things to have helped save St Paul’s Cathedral during the war, is to be restored to full working order.

Currently moored at Deptford Creek in southeast London, the boat was built in 1935 on the Isle of Wight, to a special design by London County Council. Because of its shallow draft and narrow beam the boat can navigate all the Thames bridges at any state of the tide and is the only surviving fireboat of her type in Europe.

She was also equipped with a unique set of pumps made by Merryweathers of Greenwich capable of pumping 11 tons of water per hour straight from the river.

For the members of the Massey Shaw and Marine Vessels Preservation Society, the announcement is the culmination of years of hard work to preserve the vessel, which has been moored variously in St Katherine’s Dock and Woolwich, where she suffered at the hands of vandals.

a black and white photo of a long tug like boat on the Thames

An historic shot of Massey Shaw in 1938 racing along the Thames. Courtesy HLF

“The Society is delighted by the news of its grant award from the HLF,” said the society’s director, David Rogers. “This is a tremendous achievement for a small group of volunteers who have demonstrated the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ in order to fulfil their vision.”

The London Fire Brigade Museum and The Cutty Sark Enterprises Ltd supported the restoration project and Mr Rogers thanked them for their help in achieving the Lottery Grant success.

She will now be thoroughly overhauled and during the restoration period Massey Shaw will continue to welcome visitors two days per week. This will be increased once the work is completed.

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