Built in town - 100 years ago

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There can be very few vessels of any description built 100 years ago and still sailing - and probably no other built in Montrose.

But the Kerne, a steam tug, has just celebrated her 100th birthday, and local man Mike Clark went down to the Manchester Ship Canal to join in the celebrations.

He says the Kerne, still with her original engine, but with a replacement boiler from 1935, ticks over like a clock and is a delight to travel in.

The boiler room and engine room are shining as if they were new.

Mike had intended travelling only one way in the Kerne, from Ellesmere Port, along the canal and then the River Weaver Navigation, to Acton Bridge, in Cheshire. Four-and-a-half hours of sheer bliss

But someone was unable to make the return journey, and he was offered the passage, which he jumped at.

There were interesting moments in the canal. The Kerne needs 10 feet of water and the canal’s depth is ... 10 feet.

She became stuck on mud at one point, but was accompanied by a smaller tug, the Kennet, which lent a hand when required.

The Kennet, incidentally, was formerly steam-powered, but had been converted to motor propulsion.

Kerne carried a valuable cargo. A Liverpool Brewery, Robinsons, has created a special Steam Navigation Beer, and three kegs were entrusted to the crew.

Mike told the Review that the Preservation Society is keen to keep alive the link with Montrose, and to that end is very grateful to the Port Archivist, John Aitken, for his tireless work researching the Kerne’s history. He added: “They are very sociable people!”

And just to show that steam runs in the blood, one of the other crew-members was the son of the late Fred Dibnah.

Look out for a future ‘Shipping Lines’, in the Review, in which John Aitken will reveal some quite remarkable twists and turns in the Kerne’s history.

• It is hoped a Kerne exhibition can be mounted in Montrose Museum in due course.