Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Historic tug boat returning home


BBC News
December 23, 2004

Historic tug boat The Wey is
returning to Milton Keynes.

The last known example of an inland waterways tug boat is to return to the area where it was built in 1924 after a career of duty and adventure.

The Wey was built in Stony Stratford which is now part of Milton Keynes.

Working mainly in conservation work on the River Thames the vessel carried fuel for use in London during WWII.
The boat was made by the Edward Hayes company which delivered vessels all over the world, for use on rivers, inland waterways and lakes.

Originally called the Pat and renamed the Wey in the 1930s, the tug boat spent all her working life on the River Thames and finished her career with the Environment Agency.

Pride of place
More than 300 boats were made by the company. Bill Griffiths, from the Stacey Hill Museum in Milton Keynes, believes the Wey will be an important addition to their collection.

He said: "We're now looking for other historical items associated with the Hayes Company."

She will take pride of place in the museum displayed on a specially constructed plinth.

She was bought by Thames Conservancy in 1935, to assist with the original river inspection scheme.

During the Second World War the Wey was commandeered by the Ministry of Transport to take fuel from Sunbury to Richmond, where it was passed over to London tugs for delivery to the bombed capital.

Pollution emergencies
Due to this war effort her glass was removed from the portholes of the engine house and steel plates fitted, to prevent her from being spotted by enemy aircraft.

Over the last 30 years, skippered by Ken Beard, the Wey's day job with the Environment Agency has included dredging and transporting construction materials and heavy-duty machinery.

However, she has also been involved in many pollution and emergency incidents, and assisted the "Thames Bubbler" in re-oxygenating the river during a major pollution incident several years ago.

Skipper Ken Beard said: "We will be sad to see the Wey go, but are glad to have been able to make such a valuable contribution to the Stacey Hill Museum, and hope that she will continue to provide pleasure to many for years to come."

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