:  The Internet's leading website for Side-Wheeled Paddle Steamers

Thames Estuary, River Medway, Kent, Essex and East Anglia Coast, England, U.K.
New Medway Steam Packet Co Ltd
Formed in 1919 out of the Medway Steam Packet Company which had been in operation since 1881 and traced its origins back to 1837. Their operations had ceased when their two paddlers, Princess of Wales and City of Rochester has been taken over by the Admiralty during World War I. The new company was to embark on a period of rapid growth, with two more vessels, the small PS Audrey originally from Bournemouth and owned by Captain Sydney Shippick, a driving force behind the new company, and the well known Thames steamer Queen of the South (ex-Woolwich Belle). They also ordered PS Medway Queen new for the 1924 season and in 1925 bought PS Walton Belle which joined the fleet as Essex Queen.

Continued expansion at the end of the 1920s saw two ex - naval minesweepers purchased (Queen of Thanet and Queen of Kent), and yet another "Belle" steamer, Yarmouth Belle which became Queen of Southend. In 1933 and 1934 the purchasing was to continue with the screw steamer Royal Daffodil brought from its Mersey Ferry routine to run cruises around London Docks and the Southern Railway's PS Duchess of Kent spending one season with the Rochester-based company in 1934 as PS Clacton Queen.

By this time, the New Medway Company was running services along the Kent Coast, up into East Anglia and across the English Channel to France. They had also extended their reach to London rather than starting services from the Medway.

The positive policies of this expansionary company were underlined when they ordered the first major coastal vessel to be powered by diesels, with the Dumbarton yard of Denny delivering MV Queen of the Channel in 1935 for use on the cross-channel route. The success of this vessel prompted the ordering of further diesel powered tonnage.

The strong position achieved by the Medway company was enough to cause severe concern to the General Steam Navigation Company, which had, over the years, seen competitors come and go whilst itself surviving the financial difficulties generally associated with steamship owning. In 1937, the GSN purchased a majority shareholding in the New Medway Company and effectively bought out what was appearing to become the greatest potential threat of them all.

After 1937, the New Medway Steam Packet Company retained nominal independence but operated as a subsidiary of the GSN. Until the end of the 1963 season, the famous paddler Medway Queen, proudly carried the company's name as a substantial cruising presence was maintained at the Medway ports.

medway queen g ferguson 1960.jpg

Above : Medway Queen was the last paddle steamer to serve on the Thames estuary, retiring after the 1963 season until the era of operation preservation began. She was a sole survivor of the flush-deck style which ended in the 1920s . Photo by Gillon Ferguson at Southend in 1960

Vessels of the Medway Steam Packet Company
City of Rochester (1920 - lost during World War II)
Princess of Wales (1920-1925)

Second Hand Purchases
Queen of the South (1924-1932)
Essex Queen (1925-1945)
Queen of Thanet (1929-1949)
Queen of Kent (1928-1949)
Queen of Southend / Thames Queen (1929-1948)
Clacton Queen (1934-1935)

Screw Steamer :  Royal Daffodil (1934-1938)

New Build
Medway Queen (1924-1963)

Motor vessels

   MV Queen of the Channel (1935-1939)
   MV Royal Sovereign (1937-1939)
New Build after 1937 - as a subsidiary of the General Steam Navigation Co
   MV Royal Daffodil
   MV Queen of the Channel
   MV Royal Sovereign

Return to:
General Steam Navigation Co
River Thames Historical