RFA Battersol



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Previous name:                    THAMES CONSERVANCY HOPPER No.4, Port of London Authority Hopper No 4                                                                       
Subsequent name:               James No 59 

Official No:                            10039

Class:                                    ex-PLA HOPPER

Pennant No:                          X 05

Laid down:
Builder:                                 Simons, Renfrew
Launched:                            14 October 1898
Into Service:                         16 November 1916
Out of service:                      1920
Fate:                                      Returned to Port of London Authority


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:  As WW1 progressed, the demand for fuelling ships became more acute and the 6 vessels in this Class were all formerly PLA Hoppers, used for working with the dredgers in London. They lent themselves to rapid conversion into tankers by plating over the bottom sludge door joints and by installing a pipeline and a pump. They were all coal burners that had been built on the River Clyde and after acquisition by the Admiralty, they were renamed after salient features of the River Thames and their new names used the leading parts of the names of London boroughs. In 1920 they were all returned to the PLA and they resumed their previous names. They are all recorded in official records as Royal Fleet Auxiliaries


14 October 1898 launched by Wm Simons & Co, Renfrew as Yard Nr: 357 named THAMES CONSERVANCY HOPPER No 4 for the Conservators of the River Thames, London

1898 registered in London as number 254/1898 in the Registry Book (no exact date shown)

October 1898 completed

5 January 1899 in the River Thames in collision with the steamer J W Taylor. The collision was the subject of proceeding in the Admiralty Division of the High Court where both ships were held to blame

12 June 1899 the Lloyds List newspaper reported –

12 6 1899 Lloyds List Battersol


26 January 1900 the collision of 5 January 1899 reported above was the subject of further proceedings in the Court of Appeal brought by the owners of the steamer J W Taylor against the finding that their ship was to blame contending that the THAMES CONSERVANCY HOPPER No 4 alone should be held to blame. The Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Smith) giving judgement allowed the appeal with costs

7 January 1901 the Morning Post newspaper reported –


7 1 01 Morning Post Hopper No4


12 August 1903 in Nelson dry dock, Rotherhithe 

26 May 1904 in collision with steamer Kelvinside of Lowerstoft near to the Oven’s Buoy. Steamer Kelvinside reported as suffering damage to her stem and bows. Damage to THAMES CONSERVANCY HOPPER No.4 unknown. Reported in the Times of 27 May 1904


Kelvinside 01

Steamer Kelvinside


23 December 1908 at Folly House Buoys, Cubitt Town, Poplar Able Seaman George Hembrey discharged dead – drowned. At the inquest on 28 December 1908 touching on the death of Able Seaman Hembrey his brother John Hembrey who had seen the death admitted that neither the deceased or himself could swim

27 March 1909 a crew member discharged to the Port London Sanitory Hospital suffering with small pox

1909 taken over by the London Port Authority. and renamed PORT OF LONDON AUTHORITY HOPPER No.4

8 May 1915 a crew member discharged to the Seaman’s Hospital at Greenwich suffering with Erysipelas

16 November 1916 chartered by the Admiralty, converted into a tanker and renamed RFA BATTERSOL. The Admiralty paid for hire of this ship at £163 per month

25 November 1916 Engineer Lieutenant Edward G Fry RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

19 January 1917 Lieutenant Frederick Livermore RNR appointed in command.  On 4 August 1919 he was appointed to RFA SUNHILL


CAptain Fred Livermore

Lieutenant Fred Livermore RNR


20 April 1918 at Portsmouth alongside HMS COMMONWEALTH to refuel her


HMS Commonwealth


24 September 1918 at Portsmouth with RFA PALMOL alongside loading cargo

3 June 1919 Engineer Lieutenant William Thomas RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

30 June 1919 at Portsmouth alongside HMS BIRMINGHAM refuelling with 202 tons of FFO





18 July 1919 Lieutenant Frederick P Atkins RNR appointed in command

29 July 1919 at Portsmouth alongside HMS CASTOR refuelling her with 250 tons of FFO





5 August 1919 at Portsmouth alongside HMS HAWKINS refuelling her

1 November 1919 Engineer Lieutenant Edward G Fry RNR appointed as Chief Engineer Officer

1920 returned to the Port of London Authority and resumed her previous name

1927 sold to James Dredging Towage & Transport Co Ltd, London and renamed James No 59

11 May 1930 dredger Foremost 49 and Hopper no: 59 involved in an incident off the Smalls when the dredger originally in tow of the hopper broke adrift. An attempt to re-establish connection – the Hopper’s propeller fouled by the tow rope. The hopper and the dredger bumpred together. They were seperated and towed to Milford Haven. There was a possibility of them drifting ashore.

3 December 1930 the Master and crew were litigants in the Admiralty Division of the High Court in a case involving the Hopper and a dredger Foremost 49 and with assistance and salvage provided by a trawler Ardent. Ardent and her owners awarded damages and costs – stated case (1930) 38 Ll.L.Rep. 172 – 

1937 purchased by F. Rijsdijk Industries for demolition at Hendrik Ido Ambacht in the first quarter of that year