Red Rover

Visit the Museum and view a wonderful painting, that has just docked, the Herne Bay paddle steamer


W. Brabner
oil on canvas
circa 1840

“The Red Rover” was the first ship commissioned by The Herne Bay Steam Packet Company, built in 1835.  She was one of two steam packets, the other being “The City of Canterbury”, that were generally acknowledged to be the fastest on the river.

Twice a day they sailed from London Bridge to Herne Bay Pier, a trip lasting about 5 hours and covering a distance by water of around 65 miles. A stagecoach from London would have taken twice as long or more.

This oil painting was likely to have been commissioned by the Steam Packet Co. The other steamer shown in the painting is possibly the “City of Canterbury”.

This painting comes to the SEASIDE MUSEUM via Falmouth Art Gallery. It is a bequest to Herne Bay’s museum from Mrs.Brenda Pye, a resident of Falmouth and a keen collector of paintings.

It was left to the museum through the good offices of Brian Stewart, then curator of Falmouth Art Gallery. Previously, Art & Exhibition Officer for Canterbury Museums, he was a popular and well liked figure whose parents lived in Herne Bay.

When asked by Mrs Pye to assess her collection, Brian recognised the painting’s significance immediately, and this resulted in the generous bequest.

Mrs. Pye died in 2015, outliving her advisor, who died suddenly in 2010 and is sorely missed.

It is not known how the painting ended up in Falmouth and as yet the artist has not been identified beyond the name. The painting is sound but in very great need of restoration, which is why we are showing it now and  shortly launching an appeal.


The painting needs complete restoration, before it can be seen in all its glory. The frame also needs replacing with something more in keeping with the picture’s age.

Please come and see for yourself, it looks wonderful now,

but imagine how it will look when restored.

The Estimated cost is between £1,000 and £1,500.

The SEASIDE MUSEUM is now managed by a Community Charitable Trust and manned entirely by volunteers. Funds are tight and the museum needs your help to raise the money to restore this important picture.

The first pier and the steamships that plied the route to London were the foundation of Herne Bay, then just a skeleton of the resort it was to become.

The Red Rover is Herne Bay, without it the town would probably not exist.

So please ask at the desk about contributing to the restoration fund, thank you.