A CLASSIC Maldon landmark is celebrating a milestone anniversary this year.

The steam tug ‘Brent’ celebrated her 75th birthday in March, decades after it was first named in 1946.

Some steam tugs were used during the Second World War by the Ministry of War Transport, including in the D-Day landings and for naval work in ports around the country and abroad.

In 1945 at Sunderland’s Pickersgill and Sons shipyard, TID 159 – one of 182 steam tugs built as part of the war effort – was launched too late.

The vessel was sold in 1946 to the Port of London Authority, which named her ‘Brent’ and she was used to help maintain the River Thames as a navigable waterway.

Her jobs included clearing away debris which was accumulating from the bombardments during the war and towing cargo-filled lighters and barges between ships and warehouses in the London docks.

Over time, the docks began to close as cargo was shipped in containers, and the tugs became powered with diesel.

In 1970, Brent was sold to a ship-breaker to be demolished, but Maldon couple Ron and Janet Hall saved her.

They found her at Stour Salvage, a Mistley shipbreaker’s yard, still in one piece, and with all her machinery in working order.

They bought her to Maldon, converted her into a family home and steamed up and down the east coast and over the North Sea to the Netherlands, until she came to rest in Maldon where she has been a very familiar sight to visitors and residents.

By the mid-1990s, the Brent’s boiler needed significant maintenance and she had to be laid up.

In 2001, her hull was re-plated so that she could eventually be restored and in 2010, the Steam Tug Brent Trust was established to maintain her, and to raise money to make her fully operational again.

Trustee Mark Heard aboard Steam Tug Brent

Trustee Mark Heard aboard Steam Tug Brent

Mark Heard, trustee of the Steam Tug Brent Trust, said: “She is now berthed opposite Cook’s Yard close to the Hythe, and you just can’t walk by Maldon’s Quay without stopping to look at her as a surviving historical miracle.

“Heritage is all about what has survived from the past, not just what happened in the past. These vessels are part of our heritage too.

“The Brent has a remarkable group of volunteers maintaining her heritage and is a nationally important historic vessel which should be saved and shared with present and future generations.

“For a vessel not destined to be around now – she looks pretty good at 75!”