Previous names

  • Hero
Certificate no 33
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Service Vessel
Subfunction Tug
Location Chatham
Vessel type Paddle Tug
Current use None
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required Yes


Builder Bow McLachlan & Co Ltd, Paisley
Built in 1931
Hull material Steel
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Steam
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Steam compound
Boiler type Scotch Return Tube
Boilermaker Bow McLachlan & Co, Paisley
Boiler year 1931
Boiler fuel coal


Breadth: Beam
22.49 feet (6.86 m)
Breadth: Beam
22.49 feet (6.86 m)
11.60 feet (3.54 m)
Length: Overall
109.93 feet (33.53 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


JOHN H AMOS was the last paddle tug built in Great Britain for civilian owners, and is the last survivor. She was built in 1931 for the River Tees Commissioners. However the builders were declared bankrupt before completion. The Liquidators finished the job to a higher specification by using available materials that were in the yard. It was soon discovered that boilers they used could not supply enough steam for the large diagonal compound engines. A maximum speed of only 11 knots was achieved instead of the intended 13 knots. Among other modifications that were made, an extra steam container was added to each boiler. She had a certificate for 130 passengers.

In the late 1960s, when the vessel was retired from use with the Commission, Stockton Council assumed responsibility for her, but after the local government reorganisation of 1974 the new council did not wish to continue with this. The Medway Maritime Museum heard of her impending fate and negotiated to buy the vessel. With due civic ceremony and much attention from the media, the JOHN H AMOS was towed by the steam tug CERVIA to Chatham.

In January 2008, JOHN H AMOS was prepared for lifting onto a giant pontoon, the Portal Narvik, which became her home whilst restoration took place.

Feb 2020: Due to lack of resources maintenance of JOHN H AMOS has been at a fairly low level but she is out of the water and safe. The Medway Maritime Trust continues to explore options for her future. Full restoration to working condition is not thought to be practical at this stage. A dry land location is being sought with restoration up to the standard where visitors can appreciate her and volunteers can maintain a status quo condition. 

We are currently seeking further information on this National Historic Fleet vessel. If you have any details about this vessel past or present, please contact us.


Norman J Brouwer, International Register of Historic Ships, Anthony Nelson, pp155, Edition 2, 1993  
Lloyds Register of Ships, Lloyd's of London
Steamboat Register: An illustrated Register of surviving steam vessels in the British Isles, Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, Edition 6, May 1994

Key dates

  • 1931

     Built by Bow McLachlan of Paisley and was the last paddle tug built for civilian owners in Britain

  • 1931-1967

    Worked on the River Tees at Middlesbrough towing barges and dredgers

  • 1976

    Decommissioned and moved to River Medway under private ownership

  • 2001

    Ownership transferred to the Medway Maritime Trust


  • March 2008

    A Sustainability Grant of £3000 for the costs of work to strengthen the hull of the barge onto which JOHN H AMOS is to be lifted was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

  • 2002/03

    The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £49,585 for Project Manager and survey

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact

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Moored bow view

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