The General Steam Navigation Company was founded in 1821 to run steam ship services from London. Almost 100 years later P&O Navigation bought a controlling interest in the company but it continued to trade under its original name.
It is quite appropriate that we the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Society rebuilding are rebuilding the Southern Railway Merchant Navy Class Locomotive 35011 named after the General Steam Navigation and the New Medway Steam Packet Co (Medway Queen Preservation Society) who have rebuilt a ship that operated under GSN management should work together and support one another's aims.
On the river Medway, the GSNC worked closely with the New Medway Steam Packet Company and Captain J. H. Wills of the GSNC and his wife were on board when PS Medway Queen made her maiden voyage across the Thames Estuary on Friday 18th July 1924. In 1936 GSN acquired the New Medway Company but, again, retained the name for trading purposes.
The Medway Queen Preservation Society have rebuilt their vessel structurally with the aid of HLF funding and are now engaged in fitting out the ship, initially for use as a floating venue for meetings and events. The long term aim is to see the ship sail again under its own power. Medway Queen is berthed in Gillingham, Kent, where a small team of dedicated volunteers are pushing the project forward. Like the locomotive, progress on the ship is governed by the availability of resources – both physical and financial. Although a Kent based organisation, Medway Queen Preservation Society has worldwide support and has a PR team based, conveniently, in Wiltshire and not far from Blunsdon!
The aims of the two groups' cooperation will be to support one another in publicity campaigns and appropriate merchandising and marketing initiatives. An early project is our promotional wagon for 00 model railways. For some years now the Medway Queen Preservation Society has benefitted from income generated by a series of such wagons and it is hoped that a joint project will reach a wider market and generate funds for both teams. Details of the models available and how to purchase them can be found here.
Our friends the Medway Queen Preservation Society currently have a couple of N gauge wagons for sale marking the 80th anniversary of Dunkirk in 2020. More details of these wagons can be found here.