Steam Paddle Tugs

Researcher Ken Wilcox’s brief but important notes on Shoreham’s paddle tugs are a relevant addition to the town’s history records that may otherwise have been completely overlooked. This website documents many of the ships built and used in Shoreham but very little on the paddle tug workhorses that during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries busily assisted those sailing ships in and out of the harbour and even, on occasions, towing our oar-propelled lifeboats to the aid of  ships in distress.

Mistletoe: Image No. 01.3155 Sussex Archaeological Society Marlipins Collection
The Mistletoe and her unhappy end. Donated by Neil De Ville)


The Stella (Image No. 95.2611.5 Sussex Archaeological Society Marlipins Collection)


 It is probably relevant to include with this article references to the steam tugs Ken Wilcox describes as well as others used at the harbour that have since come to light following recent work on the newspaper project for Some may have only been occasionally used and at least one does not appear to be paddle propelled but all are nevertheless part of the history of steam tug activity at Shoreham Harbour :- 

A new steamer of 110 tons and engines of 45 horse power built at North Shields for a Brighton company fitted with Mr. Smith’s patent Archimedes screw propeller arrived at the chain pier from the River Tyne in 48 hours and a half. Intended for plying to adjacent ports and occasional use in towing vessels in and out of Shoreham harbour. Stamford Mercury 4th June 1841

The above is thought to have been the Princess Royal belonging to the Brighton & Shoreham Company that was used as a pleasure yacht, the cross-channel trade during the summer months and in winter towing ships in and out of the harbour – work for which she had been especially built. In 1842 she is described as being of clinker construction, copper fastened, 39 tons register but capable 120 tons burthen and propelled by two 46 horsepower engines using an Archimedean screw. Sheffield Independent 27th November 1841 and Newcastle Journal 30th July 1842.

Ken Wilcox’s ‘Quaker Shipowning in the Port of Shoreham c.1824 – 1880’ shows the Princess Royal as 86 feet in length and beam of 16 feet having been built by ‘Dowey’ in early 1841 and registered in Shoreham on 20th August 1842.

 The Shoreham harbour steam-tug (possibly the Don) was called out to assist in the retrieval of a deserted ship, the Adela, 15 miles off Brighton. Hampshire Advertiser 28th February 1852.

 An overturned vessel was towed into Littlehampton harbour ‘by the steam tug Alice of Shoreham…’ Hull Packet 20th August 1852.

 The Odin steam tug belonging to the port of Shoreham retrieved another deserted ship the La Joyeuse and brought her to the harbour. Sussex Advertiser 5th February 1856.

 The Adur steam tug of Shoreham owned or captained by Mitchell recorded as arriving at the port. Sussex Advertiser 3rd June 1856.

 The Don steam tug of Shoreham harbour went to the assistance of a large Dutch ship in distress off Shoreham. Hampshire Advertiser 12th February 1859.

 The Pilot steam tug of Shoreham, owner or captain Courly. Norfolk Chronicle 31st December 1859. (perhaps the Pilots and owner Courtney if the names in the newspaper were misprints?)

 Finally the tug NEW STOUR makes a brief entry into the records with this recent discovery as well as a rare image of it.

‪Launched: 01/1872

‪Completed: 1872

‪Builder: JP Rennoldson, South Shields

‪Yard Number:

‪Dimensions: 54grt, 3nrt, 65.8 x 17.0 x 8.5 ft

‪Engines: L2cyl (20 & 20 x 40ins), 30nhp

‪Engines By: JP Rennoldson, South Shields

‪Propulsion: Paddle

‪Construction: Wood

‪Reg Number: 22127


‪1872 Mayor and Corporation of Sandwich; registered at Deal

‪1893 Thomas Fuller, Shoreham; registered at Shoreham

‪by 1904 Shoreham Harbour Trustees, Shoreham

‪No further history known

(from ‘Tyne Tugs and Tug Builders’ website )

The New Stour. (Donated by Neil De Ville)

Also from Tyne Tugs and Tug Builders:-

Pleiades. Completed 1858. Builder Hepple and Landenns, North Shields. 78grt; 16nrt; 84.3×17.1×8.9ft. Engines SL1cyl, 40nhp by Hepple & Landells, North Shields.

Propulsion paddle. Construction iron. Reg.No. 192000.


1858 W. Reay, Portsmouth

1864 W. Ray, London

1866 Richard Morgan et al, Cardiff

1886 William Brazier, Shoreham

1888 Thomas Marlborough Scott, Sunderland; registered at Shoreham

18xx Hepple & Co

1891 Tees Conservancy Commissioners, Stockton

1901 converted to a lighter

1902 Register closed

Brighton. Launched 6/3/1878. Builder Wouldhave & Johnson, North Shields. 100grt,34nrt,105.4×17.5x9ft. Engines L1cyl (29.25x48ins) 28nhp by T.R.Scott & Co, North Shields. Propulsion paddle. Construction wood. Reg No. 78956


1878 William S. Gardner, Painswick, Gloucestershire, registered at Shoreham.

1892 James Lee, Brighton

1896 Brighton, Worthing & South Coast Steamboat Co Ltd (J Lee) Brighton

Operated as a tug (and) excursion steamer.

1903 Register closed.

Royal Albert. Launched 1862. Builder T. Hepple & Son, Low Walker, Newcastle. 65grt, 23nrt, 78.4×16.5×8.7ft. Engines L1cyl, 25nhp probably made by the builder. Propulsion paddle. Construction wood. Reg No. 44286.


15/4/1862 Edward Pearson & Thomas Johnson, South Shields registered at Shields.

1864 George Peter Penney, Poole and registered at Poole,

1878 Robert Horne Penney, Southwick and registered at Shoreham.

23/6/1881 John Dixon Bootiman, Newcastle and registered at Newcastle.

2/8/1884 sank. After leaving Dunbar she foundered 20 miles off St. Abbs Head.

COMET. Launched: 09/07/1880 Completed: 10/1880 Builder: Wouldhave & Johnson, Low Lights, North ShieldsYard  Number: 17Dimensions: 54grt, 4nrt, 76.5 x 16.8 x 8.3ft (1882: 13nrt) Engines:SL1cyl (27 x 45ins), 25nhp. Engines By RJ Marshall, South Shields

Propulsion Paddle; Construction Wood. Reg Number:81971


27/10/1880 Robert John Marshall, South Shields; registered at South Shields

1882 Robert Penney, Shoreham & George Penney, Poole; registered at Shoreham but based at Poole

1890Richard E Penney, Shoreham

1894 Woodman Hill, Gosport


Hulked at Weymouth for some years before demolition. 11/1906: Broken up at Weymouth

Roger Bateman

January 2014 (updated April 2016 and July 2019)

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