I have some great news to share this week, news on something which I have personally been involved in and have been keen to see for 7 years now.
As many of you know I am always happy to see what remaining classic Thames tugs we have left be preserved or saved rather than face scrap, and i have given up lots of my personal time over the past few years to get ‘hands on’ in helping volunteer and see such tugs saved from ending up being lost forever.
The SUNCREST (ex Sun XXIII) – the last remaining ship towage Sun Tug on the Thames will be given a new lease of life in preservation after being bought from General Marine by Eric Reynolds at Trinity Buoy Wharf.
The Suncrest has been laid up out of service since 2005 and for sale various times over the years but I myself first stepped onboard Suncrest 7 years ago. Peter & Tony at General Marine kindly allowed me to visit the tug and over that time i would often give her a splash of paint, replace tyre fenders and generally keep an eye on the tug. Stepping onboard the Suncrest is like stepping back in time, the interior of the tug has barely changed much since 1961.
Last year I got in touch with Eric Reynolds and Richard Albanese at Trinity Buoy Wharf to see if Eric would be interested in preserving the Suncrest as part of the growing historic tug collection at Trinity Buoy Wharf.
Following talks myself and Richard Albanese went to take a look around Suncrest and carry out some visual surveys and to see if she would be a vessel they would be keen to preserve as part of the future museum plans in the Royal Docks, the whole time my fingers and toes were crossed in anticipation! At the end of the visit they both agreed that she looked in good order and they too were amazed with just how original the tug has remained all these years.
Peter Duggan (General Marine) has also been keen to see the Suncrest saved from the breakers and used in some way, even more so when reaching the age of 80 Peter decided to retire and started to sell various items and boats from his fleet. After various meetings and discussions Peter and Eric struck a deal and this week she was towed to her new home.
Why bother preserving Suncrest? What is so special about the tug?
Built in 1961 , the former SUN XXIII was built for ship towage uses on the Thames , today in the UK there are only 2 remaining sun tugs , these being Suncrest (the largest) and Kingston (ex SUN XXIV) – the Suncrest (ex Sun XXIII) is the only remaining tug of her kind remaining on the Thames and in terms of historical value is priceless and should be preserved for future generations to see and visit and learn about.
Where will Suncrest be preserved and in what way?
The Suncrest will be repainted and maintained by volunteers and will become part of the Trinity Buoy Wharf collection and future plans for a museum in the Royal Docks.
Does the main engine still run?
Although the main engine has not been started since 2011 and needs a few replacement parts, fuel etc , it is hoped one day she will run and be used once again, but the main aim for the time being is to save the tug and preserve her for future generations to see and enjoy.