Island DJ celebrates 100 year anniversary of a heroine ship

By Tilly Walder Jun 14, 2024
The Medway Queen on her mooring

Local DJ legend, Dave Cannon, of Solent City Sound, has been invited to perform on the historic paddle steamer, Medway Queen, on June 22, to celebrate its 100 years.

Dave has been a DJ for 55 years, performing more than 8,000 gigs across the Island. Many will remember him from his performances on The Waverley paddle steamer, Balmoral Ferry, Ryde Queen and, of course, its next-door neighbour, Medway Queen.

The steamer’s claim to wartime fame centres on Operation Dynamo in 1940, when it made seven trips across the English Channel to rescue 7,000 British and French troops during the Dunkirk Evacuation.

After the war, a last minute purchase saved her from the breaker’s yard, and she became a nightclub on the River Medina. The club opened on May 14, 1966, and became a favourite for hundreds of locals and visitors to the Island. Annual membership for the club was three guineas (£3.15) for one person or four guineas (£4.20) for a married couple. Temporary memberships, aimed at holidaymakers, were five shillings (25p) per week. The revellers made full use of the ship’s four saloons with a restaurant, live music and discos, casino and function room.

The club bathed in popularity until its closure in 1984, and the ship was sold to a group who moved her back to Kent.

Now, the boat has undergone intense rebuilding to restore it to its former glory, and resides next to Gillingham Pier, in Kent.