Today we start a new series with a page called Barge of the Month.
Thanks to the agreement of Richard Walsh, who designed our source, we shall be using the splendid pictures and information from the SSBR Calendar which was published in 2017. We shall start with February’s barge, sb Niagara.
Niagara of London, Official Number 108373, built 1898 at Wivenhoe, Essex, for Augustus J Hughes.
The previous post was about the proposal from Maldon Council to increase mooring fees on Hythe Quay by 94%.
Good news today that last night’s meeting of the Council changed its view after so many people expressed their opinion that it would mean the end for Thames sailing barges at Maldon. The following message from Topsail Charters outlines what happened at that meeting and at a gathering this morning of barge operators.
“Mooring fee hike proposal could lead to ‘catastrophe’ for Hythe Quay’s iconic barges”
“The barge operators had a meeting this morning to discuss last night’s decision, and in general we are pleased with the outcome.
“This was that fees would increase by 10% from the beginning of April and that several meetings would take place this year before any future increases.
“We are particularly pleased that the Council has agreed to discuss a longer term plan for Hythe Quay, together with any potential fee increases, and are pleased that it recognizes us as a ‘heritage asset’. We look forward to working closely with the Council in the future to promote Maldon, its barges and the Quay.
“There was great local support at the meeting from the local waterfront, especially Maldon Yacht Club, and I am sure that impressed Councillors. We wish the Club well with its dealings with the Council.
“We greatly appreciate all the support we have been shown especially from the newly-formed Maldon and Heybridge Heritage Harbour Group who are working hard to gain greater recognition for Maldon’s important Maritime Heritage. You will no doubt hear more from the Group in the future.
“The Group instigated an e-petition which had 300 signatures in the first two days. We would urge people still to sign the petition, which can be found on the Maldon District Council website under ‘petitions’ heading. By signing the Heritage Harbour Group’s petition members of the public will give the Council an indication of how much support there is for our Maritime Heritage.
“Obviously there is still work to be done for the future. We recognize that these are challenging financial times for all local authorities, and while the proposed increases would have been crippling for the barges we feel certain we can continue to make a contribution in other ways to the town. We look forward to working with the Council to build a sustainable future for Maldon’s Past.
Topsail Charters Team”
This is excellent news, but also something which will need close watching for the future.
Maldon District Council – E Petition – Increase in charges for mooring barges and parking cars on Hythe Quay
The Thames Sailing Barge Trust and other barge Operators on Hythe Quay at Maldon are facing a huge increase in mooring and parking charges from Maldon District Council which all are fighting. However the council is not looking at the wider issues relating to what it proposes.
The Thames Sailing Barge Trust is unable to afford a 94% rise in charges and neither can the other operators.
The Maldon & Heybridge Heritage Harbour Working Group, on which the barge operators have a voice, has set up an e-petition on the Maldon District Council website. The link is below. Could we ask you to click on the link and register and then support the statement that has been issued.
Once you have done this, please copy the link to other friends/parties/associates you may know who may live and/or work in the wider area around Maldon for them to do the same.
This is very important. The future of the barges staying at Maldon is at stake.
Many thanks in advance, your support is appreciated.
When Jim’s book, “London Light – A Sailorman’s Story” was published in May 2018 copies flew off the shelves, and before Christmas the “Sold Out” sign went up! But requests continued to come in, and publisher Richard of Chaffcutter Books was under great pressure to provide a reprint.
“Due to popular demand” is a phrase often used when a book is being reprinted or an out-of-stock article has been brought to the market again. It is absolutely true, however, about Jim’s long-awaited book.
Now we are very pleased to be able to announce that the book is back in print again, so those who missed out last time can now buy their own copy of “London Light – A Sailorman’s Story”.
Copies can be purchased on line through www.chaffcutter.com
or send a cheque for £16, including UK postage & packing to:
39 Friars Road
Page 4 of The Times today has an outstanding picture of Mirosa at sunrise in the Swale Estuary. The photograph is by Alan Payton. Good that The Times is continuing to publish barge pictures.
Time to pack up at the end of a cold and tiring day. It was TSBT’s Open Day at Maldon Hythe Quay yesterday.
Large number of visitors enjoyed tea and home-made cakes on board sb Centaur and were no doubt pleased to sit down out of the wind for a while with a warming cuppa. Wonderful TSBT volunteers were showing adults, children and dogs round the barge. Funny to see little dogs with short legs not liking the steep slope up to the deck at high tide. Several stopped half way and didn’t want to move.
TSBT generously invited SSBR to have a table in their tent on the Quay. Don Wright and I talked to lots of visitors and acted as a Scooter Park for all the children, but sadly did not sell a single book! Still at least we were there showing the SSBR banner.
Sb Thistle went out for an afternoon sail to Osea. Here she is nearly home.
Because she lives at Gun Wharf, Portsmouth, where she is the only Thames sailing barge, we tend not to hear much about sb Alice.
But My Classic Boat has a lovely film showing the mast being re-hoisted for the winter after the sails had been removed, with owner Alan Gick telling us about Alice’s history, the work done on her, and how he uses her now.
Things seem to be moving fast now with Blue Mermaid.
Today we get these great pictures of her topsail being worked on at James Lawrence Sailmakers, where sponsor Maldon Little Ship Club’s logo is being applied.
It’s clearly a Gravesend week. Two days ago we highlighted the coming auction of West Street Pier in the town. Some barge people have since suggested it would make a good base for Thames Sailing Barges – lot of money, lot of work needed, as ever with barges.
Now today there is an article in The Times about that whale which came for an autumn holiday in the Thames at Lower Hope Reach, and liked it so much it stayed around the area for several months, even being seen off Gravesend Promenade. Although nobody knows whether it is male or female, it was christened Benny by local people and seems to have contributed considerably to the town’s economy. Postcards, mugs, fridge magnets and cuddly toy whales appeared in the shops, and there was even “Bennie’s Ale” at one of the pubs.
When we went over on the ferry for the SSBR Committee meeting at the marvellous Three Daws last autumn we all had our eyes peeled but didn’t have the luck to see Benny.
The last sighting was January 6th and even that is just a maybe. Has Benny gone? Did it decide the Thames in December was not the place to be? Gravesend businesses hope not. They hope Benny may be in the outer estuary, or if it has gone that it will come back again. They say Benny had adapted well to life in the river and was happy.
For the sake of all those Benny fridge magnets, they hope to see the whale again.
Read the story here.