Lorna Doone as in 1950 in 1/700 scale 
The side wheel paddle-steamer Lorna Doone  in her first guise was originally built  for the Royal Navy  during WW1  as part of the 32  vessel strong  'Racecourse class' of paddle wheel mine-sweepers by  Ailsa SB at Troon in Scotland, launched her on 14 April 1916.

  For the remainder of the war she served with the Auxiliary Minesweeping Patrol. At 823 tons displacement, HMS Atherstone was 235 ft loa ; her coal-fired boilers producing 1400 hp to give her a service speed of 15 knots. She was operated by 52 officers and men, she carried defensive armament of 2 x 12 pdr Q/F guns for and aft. Her impressive beam of 58 ft at the paddle boxes made a stable and powerful minesweeping platform.

I built a model  HMS Atherstone  in 1/350 scale a few years ago; the model can be found via this link  at  Modelwarships.com

  At the end of WW1 she was transferred to the Mine Clearance Service. With peace returned and minefields cleared, between  1922 and 1927 most of these mine-sweepers that survived WW1 were sold  to ship-breakers  around the UK coast. with 2 noteworthy  exceptions whose careers were to exceed 36 years

  On  12 August 1927   HMS Atherstone  and HMS Plumpton were sold to 'The New Medway Steam Packet Company ' to be converted to be excursion passenger steamers for scheduled workings on the Medway and Thames and renamed Queen of Kent and Queen of Thanet  respectively.

  The refit  also changed the  outward  appearance ; modernized  with raked funnels  and matching raked masts- of which the aft mast was  later  removed in the name of modernity,  a varnished timber wheelhouse , with additional portholes to light the new created fore and aft    lower saloon decks, as well as a forest of cowl vents.    Finished smartly  with a black Hulls, whiter upper works they were  reliable and popular with the Public

  For the next twelve years they  could be found working from Sheerness and Southend. Regular excursions took them as far afield  as Gravesend, Margate, Clacton and Dover as well as cross-channel voyages to Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk.



In September 1939 at the outbreak of WW2 they were  requisitioned by the Admiralty once again for minesweeping duties and as a AA platforms , and commissioned as HMS Queen of Kent and HMS Queen of Thanet

  During Operation Overlord in June 1944 HMS Queen of Kent  was stationed at Peel Bank off the Isle of Wight as the Mulberry Accommodation & Despatch Control Ship, subsequently she was stationed at Dungeness on the south-east coast.

  In December 1944, she was deployed to Antwerp in Belgium to assist in the protection of the city and its vital docks from Luftwaffe bombing raids and V1 and V2 rockets.
 On 28th February 1945, whilst moored on the  Scheldt River in Antwerp, a V2 rocket landed in the river and shrapnel ripped through the starboard side of the ship, killing eleven members of the crew
  After the war she was returned in 1946 to her Medway Steam packet owners to recommence her excursion work around the Thames Estuary.
In January 1949 both  Queen of Kent and Queen of Thanet  were  sold to Red Funnel Lines and transferred to Southampton.
After extensive refitting at Thorneycroft's yard at Northam, Southampton they were  commissioned in the spring of that 1949and named  ' Lorna Doone'. ( Queen of Thanet was renamed Solent Queen)

 For the next three years Lorna Doone and her sister   operated excursions trips in the summer season from Southampton to Bournemouth Pier, Swanage and as far afield to the west as  Weymouth  and Brighton in the east.

They were popular , elegant and fast 

Both vessels were  finally withdrawn and scrapped by Dover Industries Ltd at Dover Eastern Docks in 1952.



The model in  1/700
at the same as I built  the 1/350 model in WW1 guise, I also purchased the   1/700 scale AJM kit with a view to building a civilian version in the last phase of her career. 
The model presented quite a few  challenges in both research and construction - but mainly  her diminutive size !

a fully detailed account of the challenges and how they were overcome can be found here at  modelwarships.com
Overall a pleasing small model of an overlooked and forgotten  ship  that operated in my locality of Southampton and the South coast  of England  way before I was born. 



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My thanks must be extended to Bruno Gire  for his decal woks and and Nigel of www.https://www.fotoflite.com/for  their  generosity in  seeking out and scanning  negatives of obscure old ships  from their vast archive for this humble modeller!

More of Jim Baumann's work.
Updated 11/11/2023

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