The tug was previously called ‘Old Trafford’ and was built in 1907 by Joseph Eltringham of South Shields for the Manchester Ship Canal Co.

It was fitted with two surface-condensing, side-lever engines, which were built by Hepple & Sons of South Shields. The two engines could be run separately or together and for extreme manoeuvrability, one could be run forward and the other in reverse, which could make the tug turn on its own axis .It was also capable of equal pull both forward and reverse.
Steam was produced by two coal-fired boilers.

The paddle wheels were fitted with 'feathering floats' (ie paddle blades), which allowed the angle of the floats to alter so that they entered and left the water in a vertical postion. This made them more powerful than the 'fixed float' paddle wheels, which had to force themselves into and out of the water at an angle.

In 1951 it was sold to France Fenwich Tyne and Wear Co. and renamed the ‘Reliant’ and worked on the river Tyne for the next 5 years.

In 1956 it was sold to the Seaham Docks & Harbour Co., in County Durham, where it worked until 1969, guiding ships into the narrow harbour entrance. ‘Reliant’ was taken out of service in that year and was towed to Charlton, on the river Thames.
The vessel was dismantled and then re-erected, by Cory Bargeworks Ltd, in the Neptune Hall at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. In 1996 it was again dismantled and removed from the N.M.M. to make way for some new displays.
The starboard engine has been refurbished and put back on display in the N.M.M. It is driven by a 40hp electric motor through a 60:1 gear unit.

The port engine is now fully restored, together with paddle wheel and working feathering gear, at Markham Grange Steam Museum. Since the engine cannot be steamed it is turned over by electric motor.


Tug Details:
Displacement of 100 tons
Length of 100 ft. (31 metres)
Width over paddles of 36.5 ft. (11 metres)
Beam of 20 ft. (6 metres)
Draught of 7 ft. (2.25 metres)

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