MEECHING TUG 1961/1965

A couple of callouts for the harbour workhorse.

By Laurie Stonehouse

The first photograph shows the Meeching tug alongside the St Patrick at the East quay. The Marine Workshops are just visible behind it with the sheerlegs towering overhead. I would estimate that this picture was taken around 1961.

The remainder of the photographs were taken in 1965 but dated 1968 on the reverse. The Meeching had been called out to help with the salvage of the Nora which had been badly damaged by fire. However for some reason the Meeching was replaced by another Tug which towed the Nora the rest of the way home.

Photo:Meeching Tug and the St Patric

Meeching Tug and the St Patric

Private collection of J K Stonehouse

Photo:Meeching Tug with the stricken Nora

Meeching Tug with the stricken Nora

Private collection of J K Stonehouse

Photo:Nora on fire - 1965

Nora on fire - 1965

Photo:Watching the smoke

Watching the smoke

Photo:The Nora badly damaged by fire

The Nora badly damaged by fire

Private collection of J K Stonehouse

Photo:View of the Nora with the Meeching tug  from the Lifeboat

View of the Nora with the Meeching tug from the Lifeboat

Private collection of J K Stonehouse

Photo:On tow

On tow

Photo:On tow (2)

On tow (2)

This page was added by Laurie Stonehouse on 14/07/2008.
Comments about this page

You'll find more of the story of the Nora, and how the German tug 'Hermes' snatched the prize away, in my 'Potted History of the Meeching' page.

Looks like we have the same collection of photos of the incident, Laurie, though my Dad's copies were donated to the Museum many years ago!

By Andy Gilbert
On 14/07/2008

Laurie, I've just had a 'light bulb' moment!
Like you, I've looked at the dates on the photos of the Nora and thought '1968'. However the photo of Meeching alongside (which I don't have, and I'd love a copy for my Meeching project please...) clearly shows her in her original colours, no BR arrows on the wheelhouse. She was repainted earlier than 1968, probably in 1965 or 1966, so maybe that date is just when the photos were printed.

Investigation needed down at the Museum. I'm sure there are lifeboat records somewhere that will confirm things. (Any lifeboat people reading this?) I'll report back in due course.

By Andy Gilbert
On 16/07/2008

I think you might find the last picture is taken from the Newhaven Lifeboat - not the tug Meeching

By John Hills
On 16/07/2008

They're all from Kathleen Mary, John, (except for the one on my Meeching page that's clearly from Meeching as she took up the tow). However the copies Dad and I gave to the museum are all dated 1968, with a British Rail stamp. In the museum, the pages all say 1968, because that's what the photos all say! I'll have to check with the Lifeboat Station for the exact date of the callout.

By Andy Gilbert
On 16/07/2008

I have to agree with John, the last picture is taken from the foredeck of the lifeboat and not the Meeching, as the Meeching is clearly in shot alongside the stricken ship.

By Rob Patten
On 18/07/2008

Reporting back as promised - after several hours searching at the museum. Finally found the info in the wonderful collection of cuttings from the Argus and Sussex Express - look for the scrapbooks!

Nora was in collision with a much larger tanker, the Canadian vessel Otto N Miller, at 07.37 on 27th March 1965, in thick fog. She caught fire immediately and there was sadly some loss of life. The master, Captain Trvgve Tyse, elected to stay on board (thus avoiding a full salvage claim!). Meeching put out the fire and prepared to take her in tow. Sniffing around was the German tug Hermes and, when Meeching's towline parted, she claimed the prize. The Argus reported that Captain Tyse awarded the towage contract to the Hermes, but doesn't say if that was before or after Meeching's line parted!

There was a big hoo-hah about it and it took years to get sorted. I'm thinking that the photos Laurie and I have, all taken from the lifeboat, but given to the crew by British Railways, and dated March 1968, may have been reproduced for the court case.

Meeching seems to have been repainted in the new BR colours during her winter 1965 refit, as the museum has a 1966 photo of her with the Falaise and Brighton, sporting her new look.


By Andy Gilbert
On 24/07/2008

Interested to see the new photos of the Nora incident. 'On tow 2' already appears on my Meeching page, but I haven't seen the one of Nora taken from Meeching's foredeck, or 'On tow' before.


By Andy Gilbert
On 24/11/2008

The date was 1965, reported in The Times of 29 March 1965, p10 col C.

The Times was a tiny bit late with the news, Michael, but, there again, the incident was on a Saturday! See my earlier comment for the exact date and time. Andy - Editor

By Michael Roots
On 30/07/2011

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.