Portwey is now back at South Quay minus propellors and tail shafts.

The remedial work on the tail shafts and associated bearings and glands is taking much longer than anticipated. We do however expect them to be returned to us shortly.

The dry dock should be available for Portwey in late spring when the tail shafts and propellors will be refitted. The tug will then be towed back to her berth at South Quay. There will then need to be extensive testing of the re-installed equipment before steaming on the river can take place.

The hope is that Portwey can attend the Classic Boat Rally at St Katharine Docks in early September. Meanwhile a working party is aboard every Wednesday and most Saturdays.



The following photographs show the dry docking progress during 2019 up to 2 September with brief descriptions.

Portwey secure in dry dock waiting for the tide to go out.

She’s high and dry now.

Close up view from ahead.

The hull after scraping and washing.

One of several hundred ultrasound readings being taken.
The good news is that the thickness readings show that no areas are giving cause for concern.

The port propellor nut guard being removed.

Both rope guards have been removed exposing the outer seals.

Propellor with gasket, retaining nut, and split pin revealed.

Propellor with gasket, retaining nut, and split pin removed.

Puller arrangement in place and heat being applied. The initial attempt to remove the propellor was unsuccessful. Watch this space !

Paint being prepared for a fresh coat of black. There are two more guys working on the port side.

The port propellor is off! All the blades had to be removed so that a more robust puller could be used. The outer seal has gone for repair locally and the encouraging news is there is very little wear in the bearing so we will not pull the port tail shaft.

The propellor hub.

The propellor blades.

The dock yard staff have started applying new paint They are doing the black between the rubbing strake and the anti fouling.

Portwey looking resplendent with fresh paint and antifouling and also new anodes.

View of the stern showing both tail shafts removed.
They are now being refurbished at a heavy engineering firm in the Midlands.
We are trying to find new springs and sealing rings for the outer stern seals.

Portwey has to be moved to another dry dock to make way for an urgent repair job on another vessel.
This photograph shows the port stern tube sealed ready for the move.

All ready for the move with both stern tubes sealed.

Portwey is now back at South Quay minus tail shafts and propellors.

There has been a delay while the tail shafts and associated bearings and glands are
restored so as the dry dock was needed for other vessels Portwey had to be moved.

The yard is getting very busy again so it may be that Portwey will not have
the tail shafts and propellors refitted until Spring 2020.

Watch this space !



Past Events 2018

River Thames Scenic Trips
13 to 15 July 2018

Our steaming season began rather later than usual this year which gave us the opportunity to complete the extensive (and expensive!) winter refurbishment programme which included replacement of the wooden rubbing strake and supporting metalwork around the stern and also fitting new furnace fire bars. During the winter months the boiler had been stripped down as far as possible, thoroughly de-scaled, checked by the marine surveyor, and reassembled.

On Tuesday 10 July, with 10 tonnes of Welsh coal loaded and the water tanks filled, the fires were lit (small at first so as not to heat all the heavy metal too quickly) and on the Wednesday a boiler hot test was carried out, again with the surveyor present.


With all the safety valves operated and checked successfully Portwey left South Quay for her first steaming trip at 1200hrs on Friday 13 July. This "Working Lock Experience" trip is always popular as it involves Portwey being lowered from dock level to to river Thames level and a large road bridge has to be raised as well.



There followed two 2 hour scenic trips where Portwey steamed between Tower Bridge and the Thames Barrier.

Saturday and Sunday saw more 2 hour scenic trips undertaken before Portwey returned to her berth at South Quay.


Thames Barge Match
Weekend 20 - 22 July

The boiler was still quite hot after the previous weekend's steaming so lighting the fires could be delayed by 24 hours thereby saving expensive coal (£330 per tonne!).

At 1500hrs on Friday 20 July Portwey steamed out into the Thames and headed down river towards Gravesend. Unfortunately this trip was made against the incoming tide so took longer than usual but Portwey was safely secured alongside Gravesend Pier by 1830hrs.


Saturday dawned fine and calm and that is how it was for most of the day with the result that the Thames Barges were mostly becalmed.


It was only at the very end of the race that the wind picked up so the barges made a fine sight as they crossed the finishing line at speed. Once secured back alongside Gravesend Pier the crew were able to relax ashore.


On Sunday Portwey left Gravesend Pier and steamed in front of the pier at full speed for the benefit of a visiting film crew before heading back up river to South Quay.

St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival
7 - 9 September 2018

Once again Portwey was invited to St Katharine Docks for the Classic Boat Festival which was this year held over three days.

Portwey steamed from South Quay to St Katharine Docks on Thursday 6 September and was open to the public for all three days of the festival. The fires were kept small so that there was just enough steam to blow the very loud whistle! The festival was surprisingly busy considering the cloudy and rather cool weather so the crew were constantly showing groups of visitors around all day.


On Monday 10 September Portwey steamed back to South Quay where she now resides for the winter while essential maintenance is carried out.

Steam Experience Days

Book a whole day on Portwey and be part of the crew, as a Steam Experience volunteer on any of our steaming days.

Join a crew member in the engine room, boiler room or on the bridge of our unique Vessel.


In the engine room you will have the opportunity to lubricate all of the seven steam engines on board, respond to telegraph instruction from the bridge to change speed or direction of the vessel and support the crew on watch.

In the boiler room you will add coal to our twin furnace boiler as directed to maintain boiler pressure between 100 and 135 psi, keep the water level within working limits by using the GS pump to add water and de-ash the grates as required.

On the Bridge

On the bridge you will be under the supervision of the skipper and will steer the ship to maintain a given course. Use the telegraph to communicate with the engine room to change speed or reverse the ship and assist in keeping a record of course and speed.

On deck, this is your opportunity to view the seascape, help the deck crew tidy away ropes etc. and maintain a tidy ship.

The day costs £250 pp including:
one years membership of the Steam Tug Portwey Trust
plus ploughmans lunch and refreshments.

See information booklet and booking form.

Information and Bookings: stportweyevents@hotmail.co.uk
07833 411160

Filming and Corporate Days Out

Portwey is available for Filming and Corporate Days out in and around Canary Wharf, London -
Information and Bookings: stportweyevents@hotmail.co.uk
07833 411160

Did you know that part of the Channel 4 series TITANIC was filmed aboard Portwey?