Home » Dock Life » Historic Fireboat Massey Shaw in West India Dock

Historic Fireboat Massey Shaw in West India Dock


Today we had the arrival  in West India Dock of the historic fireboat Massey Shaw.

The ship arrived by trailer and was lowered into the dock by a large crane.


Massey Shaw was a former London Fire Brigade fireboat which was saved by a group of volunteers who have restored the boat to its former glory.


The Massey Shaw was built in 1935 by the J. Samuel White company at Cowes, Isle of Wight.  Built to a London County Council design and costing around £18,000 , The vessel was named after Eyre Massey Shaw, a former chief of the London Fire Brigade.

When it was delivered it saw action straight away, when it played its part in putting out a major fire in Wapping. A newspaper report of 1935 gives more of the details.


Colonial Wharf at Wapping , Sept. 26. Twenty-four hours after the out break of fire at the Colonial Wharf, Wapping, firemen are still at work, seeking to subdue the flames which, though under control, continue to burn fiercely through the lower floors, with occasional explosions. The walls are gradually collapsing, and the stream is flowing with liquid rubber from the burnt stores. The river floats continue their attack on the burning building, and firemen are perched precariously on cranes on adjacent wharfs. Fire engines from all parts of London and the suburbs were arriving during the day, bringing men to relieve those who had been on continuous duty for long hours, and a few of whom had suffered minor injuries. It is expected that it will be days before the fire is extinguished. It spread to an adjoining warehouse today, but was controlled. The district is covered with soot, and the schools and tenements are uninhabitable.


However it was in the Second World War that the boat really made its name. The boat   played  a major part in protecting the Thames riverside in the war, but it gained national fame by being one of the small boats that went over to Dunkirk to rescue British troops trapped on the beach. Once again a newspaper of 1940 tells the story.

Fire Brigade Boat Aids B.E.F.

LONDON, June 3.-Among vessels of the great fleet participating in the rescue of the B.E.F., London’s fire boat Massey Shaw was not the least prominent. Volunteer firemen manned the Massey Shaw, and under the command of a naval lieutenant they crossed the Channel on Friday and brought back 60 soldiers from the beach. Under a naval crew, she returned to Dunkirk on Saturday and transferred 500 men from the shore to larger ships, and then brought back 46 to England. Later taking aboard a volunteer crew. the Massey Shaw resumed her saving work.


It is understood  that  the  boat will spend the rest of December in West India Dock  before making an appearance at the London Boat show at the Excel Centre in early January.



The Massey Shaw has been moved to the end of the South Dock and is moored next to the Lord Amory and the Portwey.




  1. Thanks for coming down and seeing Massey and sharing your photos. If anyone would like more information and updates please visit our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/masseyshaw or tweet @themasseyshaw.
    Thanks for your on going support!!

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