A historic steam tug boat, believed to be the oldest Montrose-built ship still afloat capable of being propelled under her own power, was the star attraction at a civic reception on Merseyside.
The Kerne is also believed to be the only ship afloat driven by steam which served the Royal Navy in two World Wars.
The ship was the star of the show when members of The Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society Ltd were presented with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups, at an awards ceremony at the Liverpool docks.
The presentation was made by The Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.
John Aitken and Mike Clark from Montrose, who are friends of the Kerne, were invited to attend the gathering but Mike’s daughter Jackie Matthewman, who was born in Montrose and now lives in the Merseyside area, attended in their place.
John, honorary archivist at Montrose Port Authority, spoke of the historical role of the Kerne.
Built by Montrose Shipbuilding Co. Ltd and completed in 1913 to fulfil an order placed by the Gerdes Hansen and Co, she was originally named Viking.
Upon completion in March 1913, she sailed under her own power to London but in April 1913 was acquired by the Admiralty and renamed Terrier.
Based in Chatham she worked in and around the Medway as a harbour/basin tug for 35 years, which included the two World Wars.
He said: “On ‘demob’ in 1948 from her workplace at Chatham Dockyard she became Kerne for J. P. Knight of Rochester.
“Later bought by a lighterage company on Merseyside, she was eventually offered for sale for breaking up.
“Fortunately a group of steam enthusiasts acquired her for £25, more than a scrap merchant offered, and so she escaped being turned into razor blades.
“We had a small exhibition in Montrose museum a couple of years ago on the Kerne, and Mike and I went down and sailed up the Manchester ship canal on her from Ellesmere Port to Salford quay a few years ago.”
The Kerne continues to be owned by the North Western Steamship Company Ltd but is operated by the preservation society.
It was set up as a charity in 2008 in order to promote the preservation and maintenance of the historic vessel and provide a means of education into the development, operation and historic use of steam, particularly in maritime applications and as a piece of social history.
It received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable essential hull repairs to be carried out and to improve the quality of displays and presentations.
When not attending a show or out on a cruise, she can usually be found berthed at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool’s Canning Dock, The Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port and elsewhere on Mersey Waters.
In recognition of her increasing historical importance, Kerne is now part of the Historic Fleet as designated by National Historic Ships.