Volunteers wanted!

Portwey is the only coal-fired, twin-screw, pre-World War II tug still in operation in the UK. Many of you will have enjoyed our summer cruises on the Thames in previous years.

We’re looking for volunteers to maintain and crew our historic tug. If you want to be part of keeping Portwey going to her 100th birthday in 2027, we want to hear from you.

You don’t need special skills or experience to volunteer on Portwey. Obviously, if you do have skills in engineering, boat handling, woodwork, or DIY, we’d love to hear from you, but everyone is welcome, whatever your age (provided you’re over 16) or level of experience. We are also looking for people to manage the Steam Tug Portwey Trust as charity trustees.

We run work sessions on Wednesdays and Saturdays at our berth in the West India Docks in east London. If you want to volunteer, or are interested in becoming a charity trustee, please contact: Chris Nursey, Chief Engineer. Email: Phone: 07810 132232.

The Last Coal Fired Twin Engine Steam Tug?

PORTWEY is one of only two twin screw, coal fired steam tugs now active in the United Kingdom. She is one of the vessels included in the core collection of historic ships at National Historic Ships UK.

Built by Harland and Wolff on the Clyde in 1927, she was first owned by the Portland and Weymouth Coaling Company (hence the name) and worked along the south coast of England, being based at Portland.

The crew normally meet every Wednesday afternoon and evening .... why not come along?

PORTWEY being saluted at HMS PRESIDENT on her 90th Birthday

During the second World War the tug was controlled by the U.S. Army and was based at Dartmouth, part of her duties being to tow in damaged craft, on one occasion narrowly missing being hit by a bomb. In 1951 PORTWEY was sold to the Falmouth Dock and Engineering Company where she spent the rest of her working life, helping, during this time, with the construction of the Lizard and Anglesey Lifeboat Stations.

In 1967, destined for the scrap yard at the end of her working life, PORTWEY was bought by Richard Dobson, who, with a group of dedicated friends, restored the tug to her former glory and maintained her for the next 15 years. In 1982 they were no longer able to continue this work and the tug steamed to London and was donated to the Maritime Trust. The Steam Tug Portwey Association took PORTWEY on Demise Charter from the Trust and continued the restoration, preservation and operation, steaming in the Thames and Medway during the year.

In June 2000 the Steam Tug PORTWEY Trust was created and the Trust purchased the tug from the Maritime Trust. The Trust is a Limited Company with Charitable Status. PORTWEY's current permanent berth is in the South Quay of the West India Docks, London, and is easily accessible from South Quay Station on the Docklands Light Railway. Visitors and volunteers are very welcome - please contact the Secretary by letter or email ( to make arrangements.

Portwey Needs Your Help!

The volunteers normally meet every Wednesday from approximately 2pm until 9pm at South Quay (Find Us).

We are looking for volunteers that can spend a few hours assisting us maintain and run Portwey, either with your time or by making donations to assist keeping this vessel working.

Why not join up and help keep Portwey steaming on...

Join Us


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For further information please contact:
The Steam Tug Portwey Trust, 4 Almond Avenue, Wickford, Essex, SS12 0BN