My local newspaper, the Thurrock Gazette, has a weekly column called “Down Memory Lane”, which is written by my good friend Jonathan Catton, Heritage & Museum Officer of Thurrock Council, or, in my terminology, Curator of Thurrock Museum. Each week I clip out Jonathan’s piece and put it in a Box File, but often don’t get a chance to read it for some time.
I’ve just been catching up on them, and found one from February of this year about Thurrock’s cement industry, particularly Tunnel Portland Cement.
It includes a picture which Jonathan had taken from the front cover of one of the company’s souvenir catalogues from the 1930s. It shows the Tunnel Jetty on the Thames with several sailing barges, one of which is being loaded with barrels of cement.
Sorry the quality is not good as it is a scanned-in news cutting.
An exhibition entitled “From Ware to the Sea – The History of Sailing Barges”
opens at Ware Museum (SG12 9AL) on 6th May for 9 weeks. I have pulled this together with the help of SSBR colleagues and others, in my spare time, when not organising this year’s Mark Boyle Memorial Thames Sailing Barge Match on 13th July, finishing at Erith for the first time in 117 years!
The exhibition conveys a brief history of the genre; details spritsail barges built in Ware; looks illustratively at ownership, crews, destinations and cargoes; the Henry Dodd Barge Match history; the anatomy of a barge; a 1:24 scale model of SB Kathleen with her history time-line in words and pictures; barge construction and sail making with the tools of both these skills on display; and the model of SB Lady of the Lea from the London Canal Museum.
Ware Museum is an independent museum run by volunteers and supported by Ware Town Council, East Herts District Council and the Ware Society. Entry is free but a donation of £2.00 is suggested.
Ware Museum, The Priory Lodge, 89 High Street, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG12 9AL.
Opening times:- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday from 11.00am to 4.00pm.
Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 2.00pm to 4.00pm.
Tel: 01920 487848 www.waremuseum.org.uk Registered Charity No. 295169
You can’t keep a Barge Nut down!
Julie may have taken Dave Brooks off to France on holiday, but guess what he finds? Yes, a barge; to be precise the Northdown at Port Musee Douarnenez — in Douarnenez, Bretagne. Here’s the series of pictures he took:-
Why not visit them at Maldon Quay and have a guided tour of their two Thames Barges, Pudge and Centaur.
Admission is free, but donations will be gratefully received to help keep the barges sailing.
Monday 6th May - There will be shanty singers performing on board throughout the day. Barges open from 10.30am.
There will be displays showing the work of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust on board and refreshments will be available.
The Trust looks forward to welcoming you aboard.
The story of Spearo is filmed by his son-in-law, Chris Rudland, who says “Spearo is my father-in-law and I have so often listened to his stories over the years but thought now is the time to catch them on tape for posterity so I had a go knowing Spearo wouldn’t disappoint me. I have an interest in this generation and greatly admire their knowledge, wisdom and experiences especially throughout the war years.”
The article is about Bob Roberts, and concentrates on a side which perhaps is less well known, his music. But Gavin tells an interesting story of Bob’s career in journalism, the way he was drawn to a life at sea, and the years he spent collecting songs and tunes from wherever he went.
Here’s the link to the article.
And this is Gavin’s blog.
Thanks Gavin for an excellent read.
Here’s the poster for the 2013 Thames Barge Match. The match is special for two reasons. First, it is the 150th anniversary match, the first being held in 1863. Second, it is entitled The Mark Boyle Memorial Thames Sailing Barge Match in memory of Mark who revived the event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day in 1995, had been its driving force ever since, and whose sudden death at the age of 55, just before Christmas, shocked and saddened the sailing barge community.
So, let’s make sure the match has a great turnout of followers and shore watchers to make it even more special. Incidentally, SSBR’s own Vice Chairman, Richard Walsh, has become Acting Secretary of the Match and taken on the task of running the 2013 event.
Here’s a report on the This is Kent website, from the Whitstable Times, about the recent rejection of the proposal to re-site The Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum at Whitstable Harbour.
“It’s a no to £300k plan for Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum
“Friday, February 15, 2013 by Liz Crudgington, Whitstable Times
“HARBOUR bosses have snubbed a plan that would have brought a £300,000 investment and a new tourist attraction to the town.
“They were given the go-ahead by council officials and the harbour board and were negotiating a lease for the engine shed site on the south quay.
“But support was abruptly withdrawn in an e-mail sent to the museum’s trust by board chairman Councillor Pat Todd.
“At a harbour board meeting on Friday, former independent member Adam Roake said there had been no explanation. He said:
“They are offering to make a £300,000 capital investment in return for running the engine shed site for a peppercorn rent. Two previous reportssay go ahead with it.
“A decision has been made in private following a report given in private. I think we deserve a public expression of the answer.”
“Board members initially made no comment on his points and went on to discuss a bid for European funding which would pay for professional fees for a separate project to develop the south quay shed, now used for storage. Dawn Hudd, deputy head of culture and enterprise at Canterbury City Council, which owns the harbour, said the grant could make a scheme there viable. The board will find out if they have been successful in April. She said:
“It would pay for professional fees in the design and if that is 50 per cent funded it may tip it over to make it viable.
“It could make the difference between something being a viable scheme or not.
“None of the projects so far have been commercially viable.
“We want to bring forward a viable development proposal for the south quay shed.”
“But Mr Roake said the investment from the museum trust would be more valuable.
“The museum was dedicated to the history of Thames Sailing Barges and featured shipwrights’, blacksmiths’ and riggers’ tools as well as models, plans and photographs. He said:
“This could be a major investment, larger than the Interreg grant, which seems to be the only other investment under consideration.
“Are you really sure you don’t want that investment in the harbour? It is a large investment you are turning down.”
“Council lawyer Janet Taylor said the decision was made in another place, not by the harbour board. But she refused to be drawn any further. Cllr Todd added:
“There are a lot of negotiations that went on with the barge museum that didn’t come to fruition for one reason or another.”
“The Times understands the latest consultants’ report concluded the barge museum would not be viable.
“It would have been built and run by the museum trust at no cost to the council and officials had offered to work with Whitstable Museum and Gallery on a possible joint scheme.
“But the report – presented to the harbour board in secret at their last meeting – is believed to have concluded that it would not provide the type of year-round attraction the board wanted. “
Via Peter Ferguson we have learnt of yet another loss to the barging community. Peter has passed on the sad news that long-time member of SSBR, Mike Stammers, has died from cancer.
Mike had a great love of and interest in Thames barges. He and Peter had been close friends since their twenties, and shared many a week’s sailing together on Pudge and Centaur. His maritime interests were both professional, as Keeper of Merseyside Maritime Museum, and, in retirement, bringing his vast knowledge of vessels to publishing a number of works.