|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.
| 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
|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!|
of Jim Baumann's work.