Imogen Stubbs recalls the rats in her childhood barge home

News today that Imogen Stubbs and her partner, actor Jonathan Guy Lewis, are living near the River Thames at Chiswick, and that has meant Imogen has returned to be near where she lived as child.   Her home overlooks the stretch of the river where her parents brought her up aboard the wooden sailing barge, Cetus.    She says that people thought they were being “stupefyingly irresponsible” to bring up her and her brother in the barge which had rats in the bilges, silverfish in the bath, and a dustbin bag as a lavatory when they first got it.

She describes it as a “Huckleberry Finn childhood”.

Posted on 28/02/2012, in sb Cetus. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. My husband John and I bought Cetus as an uncoverted hulk around 1957 and when we started to have children sold the boat very sadly to Imogen’s parents. We too had memories of the boat sitting on a milk bottle and filling with water, collecting a body on the anchor chain and waiting patiently to go shopping when high tides cut us off from the road, We paid £1 a year for the mooring and the lovely garden. We were hopeless at converting below deck and the walls kept falling down as the barge changed shaped with the tide but somehow we managed in the end and eventually installed a grand piano in the saloon. Such magical memories! So glad you loved it Imogen.


    • Anna Coombes

      Hi Shirley, I am working on a project looking into the history of people living on the tidal Thames. We have conducted many interviews with past and current residents. Would absolutely love to hear about your time on Cetus. Anna


  2. That’s Strange? because I had a friend who lived on the Cetus in the late 1970’s and early 80’s and it wasn’t near Chiswick it was Otterham Quay in Rainham Kent. Sadly my friends mother died of an Asthma attack on the barge.


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