John H Amos is a paddlewheel tugboat built in England in 1931. The last paddlewheel tug built for owners, now owned by the Medway Maritime Trust. She is one of two surviving British-built paddle tugs, the other being Eppleton Hall preserved at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco. John H Amos was commissioned for the River Tees Conservancy Commissioners and built by Bow, McLachlan and Company Ltd. of Paisley and she was named to honour of the Secretary to the Commissioners, John Hetherington Amos who died in 1934. Before completion Bow, McLachlan & Co. went into liquidation, NSS finished the work by using materials that were already available in the yard, which resulted in a variation to design specification, some parts where therefore better, while others were worse. On first steaming, it was discovered that the boilers used could not supply enough steam for the diagonal compound engines, meaning she could only reach 11 knots instead of the intended 13 knots. She was completed in 1931 but the Tees Conservancy Commissioners did not accept her for two years before remedial work was completed to bring her up to design specification. She had a crew of six, master, mate, two engineers, a stoker and a deck hand, said to have been an inefficient boat as a tug, she was given a certificate for 144 passengers to make her more useful. In the mouth of the River Tees was pier known as the Fifth Buoy Light, in the middle of the structure was a building described as a dance hall, which belonged to the Tees Commissioners, which the John H Amos was used to transport passengers to. There were regular incidents of alcohol smuggling on the Tees, the master was changed for a period, and the boat taken to court, although no individual was eventually charged. Like all paddle steamers she had a shallow draught, when towing barges, they were always lashed alongside, and she would normally use only one paddle. Although wide, the configuration allowed efficient operation in shallow draught water, withdrawn from service in 1967, two years later she was presented by the Tees and Hartlepool Ports Authority to the County Borough of Teesside for The People of Cleveland. In December 1971 she was moved from Middlesbrough to Stockton Corporation Quay, as a result of UK Government reorganisation of funding, the youth project based restoration was withdrawn and the boat put up for sale. Two River Thames based businessmen, who operated the UKs only steam powered tug fleet, after a dispute within the council at the sale, she left Stockton watched by a crowd of 400 to the accompaniment of Rule Britannia played by a local brass band on 4 March 1976. Renamed Hero she became part of the fleet of International Towing Ltd, based at Gun Wharf, by the end of 1976, the partners split the ITL fleet, and John H Amos moved from Gun Wharf to Milton Creek, and then Faversham Creek. When HMS Endurance returned from the Falklands War, the Royal Navy offered the newly formed Medway Maritime Trust two buoys on which to moor their two boats, John H Amos hence moved to Anchor Wharf, Historic Dockyard. When the Dockyard Trust acquired the submarine HMS Ocelot, John H Amos was moved to a new berth at which she sat on a lump of concrete. Resultantly holed, she sank at her mooring, happily, the dockyard trust then agreed she could be moored on a free slipway
Image: River Medway at Chatham John H Amos geograph.org.uk 733175
John H Amos in 1994
John H Amos by Billy Childish, a painting of the paddle tug off Rochester in 2008.