Can you help find a future for VIC 56?

Forty years after purchase from the Ministry of Defence, Henry Cleary is looking to find a new owner or group to take over VIC 56 – one of few working seagoing steamships in the UK and the only Kent built steamship still operational. The ship has had major recent work on the boiler and on the hull and is in good operating condition with the help of active volunteers. However VIC 56 is now 73 and continuing work will be needed to keep her steaming and open to visitors in future years.

There are various possibilities: a new individual owner may come forward or if enough people express interest a new group ownership scheme could be set up, possibly as a charity, but any membership based scheme needs to combine essential practical skills with the ability to raise enough funds for periodic repairs.

Are you interested or know others who might be?

Get in touch by email as below.

Are you interested in joining a group scheme if enough people come forward to form one?

Send your contact details and you will be kept in touch with others interested.

What happens next?

Interested parties are asked to make contact by the end of January 2019. If potential proposals come forward there will be a few months to work up a transfer scheme (and possibly new organisation) before summer 2019.

Could VIC 56 leave Chatham Historic Dockyard?

Depends on the proposals received.

What costs are involved?

Basic costs such as insurance are around £2,000 a year but around £3,000 on average is needed each year to fund periodic major repairs (in addition to volunteer work eg chipping and painting). Having skilled members such as welders could reduce this. On top of these are mooring costs (where applicable) and coal etc.

How will alternative bids be treated?

The aim is to find the approach best suited to keeping VIC 56 steaming into the future. The purchase price will be nominal for the right proposal – but it must demonstrate that it can raise the resources for maintenance.

If no bids come forward?

The vessel will be disposed of in summer 2019.

Is the current owner willing to be involved in a new scheme?

Henry Cleary is willing to pass on knowledge and experience from his period of ownership and to help in setting up any new organisation providing a new owner or group comes forward.

Please pass this on. You may know someone who might like to be involved!

Contact: or write to 223, Rosendale Road, London SE21 8LW