History - Massey Shaw Education Trust
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Launch - 1935

Massey’s early career
Massey Shaw Launch 1935


Massey Shaw was built by J Samuel Whites at Cowes in the Isle of Wight.

Named after Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, the Superintendent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (now renamed the London Fire Brigade), and its predecessor, the London Fire Engine Establishment, from 1861 to 1891. She was built to a London County Council design, and cost around £18,000 to build. Watch original video footage from the launch here: https://masseyshaw.org/news/british-pathe-release-footage-massey-shaw-youtube/

Massey Shaw at Colonial Wharf 1936


Attended a major fire at Colonial Wharf fire, Wapping.

The Massey Shaw was credited with saving £2 million of stock.


Operation Dynamo and The Blitz
Massey Shaw returns from Dunkirk 1940


Massey Shaw crossed the English Channel to help evacuate soldiers from the beaches at Dunkirk

Along with the flotilla of other Dunkirk 'Little Ships', Massey is credited with saving over 500 troops from the beaches. Due to the relatively flat hull of Massey, she was able to get closer to the shore so that soldiers could wade out and climb aboard, to be ferried to the larger ships. Unfortunately, Massey does not have a lot of space to accommodate people, however she was able to bring back over 100 troops to the UK.


Desperate fire-fighting during the 'Blitz'.

The number of fireboats suddenly increase as the Blitz started. The regular fireboats were supplemented with a mixture of craft which had firepumps placed aboard ready to supply water from the Thames.


Vessel design updates

A permanent, wooden wheelhouse replaced the open canvass 'dodger' to offer protection to coxwain and river pilot.


Massey back in service


Major fire at margarine warehouse.


The Massey Shaw became a reserve boat. New fire boats had taken over first-line duties.

1970s - 80s

Decommissioned and charity formation


The Massey Shaw was decommissioned and remained moored pending the LFB's decision on her future.


Mr Philip Wray, Dick Helyer, and several other concerned individuals find the Massey Shaw abandoned in St Katharines Dock. They begin to lobby the Fire Authority to save this historic vessel.


After several years of hard work the Society is founded and the Massey Shaw is given to he Society on a 50 year lease.


More hard work to find the money to restore the vessel results in the Massey Shaw joining the ADLS on their ``Return to Dunkirk`` for the first time since 1965.


The Massey Shaw is invited to attend the centenary of the Captain Sir Eyre Massey Shaw reviewing one thousand firemen at Oxford. The boat and her crew receive a great welcome at Oxford and Reading.

1990s - 2016

Decommissioning and charity formation


The Massey Shaw is sunk close to the LFB Headquarters at Lambeth. Years of hard work are undone as she lies underwater for several tides, but he boat is salvaged and work starts again.


Further fundraising and restoration work sees the Massey Shaw seaworthy once more and ready to attend the ADLS 50th Anniversary return to Dunkirk. Mr Dick Helyer, one of the original Dunkirk crew meets Mr John Overy, one of the soldiers he rescued. It was very emotional for both men, and for the crew of the Massey Shaw.


On return from Dunkirk the Society commences its long search for a permanent home for the boat on the River Thames. Meanwhile, the Massey Shaw is seen at numerous events along the river whilst undergoing important restoration work.


For several years the Society has struggled to obtain the fund necessary to keep the vessel in working order. A special effort is made to get the vessel ready for the 60th Dunkirk anniversary in May. The trip starts badly with one of the main engines damaging a piston on the way to Dover. Nevertheless, the boat makes both legs of the journey to and from Dunkirk on 15, instead of 16, cylinders thanks to the volunteer engineers.


The TV program Salvage Squad (Channel 4) undertook restoration of starboard engine and fire pump valves and timber rubbing strakes. The program was filmed over 4 months but lasted only 40 minutes on screen! (This episode is still available on the Discovery Channel.) The society gained full ownership of the Massey Shaw.


At the viewers' request the Salvage Squad produce a second program to complete the restoration of the starboard engine and show it working. Sadly, only a short time afterwards the boat was vandalised with windows broken, graffiti daubed in the cabin, and the wheelhouse damaged.

2008 - 2013

Following a lengthy and detailed submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the society was granted £500,000 for a schedule of restoration works that is estimated to take 2 years, and create an education project based upon the society's archives.


Massey Shaw attends the London International Boat Show at the Excel Centre, E16.


April 2015 - The Society officially re launches Massey Shaw back to the River Thames with an event at the Westminster Boating Base. Attendid by various parties involved with the restoration, supporters and volunteers. May 2015 - Massey Shaw returns to Dunkirk with the ``Little Ships`` armada to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Dynamo and the evacuation of troops from the beaches in 1940. November 2015 - Lord Mayors Show River Flotilla saw Massey Shaw take a lead and pump water at the end of the procession. December 2015 - Blitz Remembered event held to mark the anniversary of the biggest Blitz raids on London and the role played by AFS and Massey Shaw in helping to save St Pauls Cathedral.


January - Attended the London Boat Show 2016 at Excel where we saw over 100 people per day (average) on board for tours and hundreds more watched our pumping displays each day. May - Massey travelled to Ramsgate with other Dunkirk Little Ships for the annual Commemorative Cruise June - Massey Shaw join the Queens row barge Gloriana, Havengore and other rowing boats/Dunkirk Little Ships to celebrate the Queens 90th Birthday in a River Flotilla. September - Massey Shaw takes part in The Great Fire 1666, Watch it Burn event to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London along with many other events, including; The Great River Race, Open House London and the Classic Boat Rally. November - The Society held is Annual General Meeting and attended a River Thames based event to commemorate Armistice Day. Throughout the year volunteers attended a number of Fire Station open days to mark the 150th anniversary of the Brigade.