Ted's Clacton Belle
The author has recorded the loves of her grandfather's life. These were his wife and the sea. He had grown up beside tidal Thames and he wanted to go to sea, but he was apprenticed elsewhere. However, this did not stop him in his spare time helping out aboard Thames coasters, whenever he had a chance.
Paddle steamers plied the coasts and on the Thames they were used for excursions, towards Margate and further afield to Clacton. Ted Groom collected memorabilia from these steamers whenever they stopped being serviceable. Many of them were lost during the war when they helped to rescue soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches or hit by mines. They served the nation with gallantry. One or two survived the war, and this tale has reminded me of the year when the war in Europe was over and my father booked passage on one from Margate to within sight of the French coast.
Since then a few have been restored but 'PS John H Amos' sits outside Chatham Naval Dockyard and 'PS Medway Queen' berthed at East Hoo need restoration.