Owen John Oliver – an Exceptional Life

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Welcome to this website for the book I’m writing about Owen John Oliver. He was also known as  JOLIVER. Born near Peterborough he lived most of  his life around the Medway river at Rochester ,  and worked in the Thames Estuary, and along  the Essex and Kent coasts.


Owen John Oliver as a child

Owen John Oliver as a child

Born in 1926 – Died 2014 .

He became a trained artist , chef and sailor. He owned several boats over the years but was best known for being the captain of the tug  Hobbit.

Hobbit Tub on the Medway/ Thames Estuary

Hobbit Tug on the Medway/ Thames Estuary

He was born with two short arms, no hands, and only one good foot . He did not want this book written in his lifetime but gave me permission to write it once he was dead . I have researched as far as I can , his  early life and schooling ,his Art School  training  and 4 years as a  wandering years as an artist on a three wheeled trike round Cornwall. He settled in Rochester around 1950 where he  learnt to sail .


John Oliver sailing in the Medway

John Oliver sailing in the Medway

He bought  and sold a number of boats,  including a house boat called Joliver , which I now own,and let out for short stays,  at Faversham .

Joliver  had a great sense of humour and made  lifelong   friends  with a  wide range of people  from  Yacht and Barge owners,  Lighter-men, Pub landlords, Artists, engineers   and teachers . Some  have already been interviewed for the book . Many stories are very funny; some are sad.

Owen John Oliver

Owen John Oliver

Intelligent , funny and fiercely  independent, once you’d met him you’d never forget him.

I’m sure  there are many  more stories out there so,  can I ask for your help with my book ?

Please LIKE and  SHARE the website on social media

[www.ojoliver.org] so that the word gets around.

This will be a high quality  book , and I’d love to find images of  his own paintings to add to the other visual images .


Would you be willing to share images for this book ?


Please contact me with your memories and stories .

THANKS very much – Frances


  1. Richard durling - February 12, 2017 @ 2:32 pm

    Cool guy i will be reading the book so insparing to others im going to arsk around medway bridge mariner

    • admin - February 19, 2017 @ 7:23 pm

      Hi Richard ,
      Good to hear from you. John was often around Medway Bridge Marina as he had friends there and did bits of towing in his tug HOBBIT. Theres a talk about the Medway on March 4 in Chatham which will mention John Oliver. Contact Wilf Lower email : euroevents@btinternet.com for details . Unfortunately I ca’t get there that day.
      I will be giving a talk in Faversham and Canterbury area in the next few months so hope you can come. (Details in my Blogs ) Best wishes Frances

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