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This sketch of Pioneer was drawn by the late Michael Salmon, a Road Locomotive Society member and traction engine owner. He made the sketch in the 1960's from his memory of the tug as he would have seen it in the 1930's.

(Sketch kindly donated by Brian Hillsdon)

view newsreel at http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=10143 


(Martin Engewicht)


Fleet No

Built at











Source for

First Date

H Sabey & Co


 8 South Wharf , Paddington




Steamer Registrations





Date Inspected

Date Registered







Steamer Gaugings



Gauging Number

















Steamer History


Sister to Accretion, Antelope & Fastnet    [BH]






















Andy Watson  25.12.2010 and Keith Ward 26.12.2010.   Please see below a link to an old British Pathe film including footage of a couple of steam tugs.

http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=10143    Pioneer appears in the last 30 seconds of the film.

Keith Ward  2.1.2010.    Pioneer seems to have (am I reading what I want to see on the bad film?) the name of Sabey & Co of Paddington as shown page 81 in Walkers of Ricky by AJ Walker but there is no Pioneer in the Walkers build list. I believe that it is H Sabey & Co Paddington. I don’t have any other information but I thought that it does bear a resemblance to “Fastnet” & “Antelope” listed in Steamershistorical.co.uk as sisters of “Pioneer” and “Accretion”, all of which are listed as being owned by H Sabey & Co. The only other thing I can say is that I believe the clip is pre 1924.

Mark Pullinger  3.1.2011     I'm reasonably sure I have accurate copies of the remaining Paddington & Uxbridge Registers - and have nothing on boats named "Pioneer" other than the FMC craft.The film has no date that I can see, but I can say that WB Vulcan (seen about 2/3rds through film) was registered to H.Sabey in January 1922 (not necessarily "New") as Paddington 293. Very last shot seems to show the stern end of a steamer at the end of the day tied up facing back towards town . This reminds me that the registration at Paddington of H.Sabey's "Enterprise" in 1918 includes a note to confirm it was not a flyboat, as it could complete the return journey between Paddington and West Drayton in a day.

 Derek Reynolds   3.1.2011    The shots of the families on the boats; unloading by grab; PIONEER towing; and the final Sunset shot, are all taken in Paddington Basin. The buildings in the background in the shot of PIONEER, are extant and can be seen HERE. If you click and drag the little ball and arrow symbol in the centre of the shot 'downwards', a better angle is achieved.
These buildings can again be seen in the final shot, and the rooftop of Paddington Station is visible above those buildings. Quite clear are the large sliding doors. The Church spire is a connection between the shots, and as the final is a Sunset, we are obviously facing West. Looking on my 1951 Greater London Atlas, there are two Churches that it might be: One is St Stephens in Westbourne Park Road, although today there is no spire - and it may never have had one - it has a tower with four pinnacled corners. The other which would line up equally as well is a Church that is no longer there. This must have been demolished post war, but its location was Bishop's Bridge Road North side, with Westbourne Terrace West side - there is a modern block of flats there now. If this Church was with spire it would line up perfectly.

Keith Ward  3.1.2011     Other possible dating clues could come from the other vehicles shown in the clip, at 33 seconds there are 3 motor cars parked on a tug suggesting to me that they could be new and being delivered, at lease two of them look like 1926 Model T Fords, I don’t know if these were produced in the UK or not so I have no idea if they are waiting to be loaded or unloaded.     At 2:15 as the “shed tug” approaches the end of the tunnel what looks like a 1924 LCC (London County Council) tram dashes over the bridge    I may be grasping at straws but it seems to look like late 20’s to very early 30’s and as the silent news continued to dominate until the early 30s when “talking news” took over.