Medway gets the Message!

I’ve had a great response to the Medway Messenger Newspaper article about John Oliver in the MEMORIES pages by Pete Cook this week ( Pub: Friday 7 October )

Thanks to  Peter for writing such a detailed and accurate article,   and to all who emailed me with information and memories of their own .

Two correspondents recognised the  vessel John is photographed in holding the wheel , as the steam tug ‘Cervia’ . This is now being restored at Ramsgate . John was keen on preserving  steam engines and helped with several restoration projects including the Medway Queen paddle steamer .

I’m hoping to meet all the people who have contacted  me through this article  for a longer conversation over the coming months .

Please keep the memories coming!

I’d love to hear from you



  1. Christopher Busby on 02/11/2016 at 12:09 am

    I was a friend of John. We lived on various boats, SB Glenway, SB MN, Humber Keel Nidd, MV Frances Leslie between 1974 and 1981. I worked with John as his lighterman for various towing jobs; he even paid me! After we left the Medway and moved to Wales he visited me in some crazy van that had sockets on the steering wheel. I remember when he fell between the Hoo Marina concrete lighter and the tug and broke his leg. They put metal plates in it. Then when he recovered I caught him testing it by pushing the tug off the fuelling pontoon at the Medway Bridge. We had lots of arguments. I think he liked me because I didnt allow him any room for being disabled. We had lots of rows. He visited us regularly on the boats and we got on. Anyway, he lived a long time it seems. I found this site accidentally. I last spoke with him in about 1984 when he came to visit us in Wales in the crazy van. I am Chris Busby the scientist; you will find me on the web. Good luck. Chris

    • Frances on 08/11/2016 at 9:05 pm

      Hi Chris,
      Glad you found this site , and thanks for your comments . Luckily when he broke his leg it was his short right leg. He used his left leg and foot most of the time. he had some good stories about that time when he was in hospital and he kidded the nurses he could not wash himself , so got one , or better , two, lovely nurses to sponge him down . He loved that !
      They soon realised he could do it all himself, except his back, just like everyone else! As soon as he could take weight on that leg he started helping on the ward , taking the morning tea round etc. Everyone was amazed how skillful he was with the teapot. He had quite a laugh with them all on the orthopaedic ward, and he must have returned looking unusually pale from all those baths !
      Can you remember What you argued about ? Did you know Fred Trice ? He’s told me a lot about their working life , and he used to argue with John about safety and payment for jobs . John would generally go his own way .
      Keep in touch , and let me know if you want to support this project by buying a signed copy of the in advance ( see support my work )
      Thanks again for your helpful memories

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