Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cambria has a new website, but the Blog is still there

Readers of The Barge Blog may well have cast their eyes over Cambria’s website in the past.   Well yesterday saw a change in that a new Cambria website went live.  The original one,, was very much geared towards the restoration project, and it was felt that something more appropriate to the barge’s future, as a charter vessel, was needed.   So the address above is no more, (although you will we think be re-directed), and the sparkling new website is at

Never fear though, much of the story of Cambria has been transferred to the new site, together with the great pictures.   And the blog is still there, under the News tab, with all sorts of news and stories, as written by Matt Care.

(picture of Cambria at new Town Pier pontoon, Gravesend, by Dave Brooks)

Edith May makes a good Passage

The summer barge matches are under way and Ed Gransden tells me a bit about the Passage Match, as viewed from Edith May.

Edith May was officially first over the start line as Lady of the Lea and Ardwina went over seconds before the gun.   Edith May took the lead down the Thames and held it, going well throughout the day to be first barge into Harwich Harbour.   Even though she had to do a dog leg as she passed a buoy the wrong side, she still managed to win by a comfortable margin.    Repertor and Ardwina followed with Lady of the Lea bringing up the rear.

My picture depicts the barges trying to gauge the start.

(Words and picture by Dave Brooks)


Trojan’s end – a building accident and the Olympic legacy

Back in the early part of the year the SSBR Committee heard reports that the sb Trojan, which apparently had been abandoned on Leigh Marshes, had been removed by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and destroyed.   We learnt of this through a story that a man had been injured by the fall of a steel wall, although strangely there was no mention that the steel wall in question was part of the hull of a Thames sailing barge  –  not your everyday building accident!

Everything then went quiet, but yesterday a report appeared on “The Echo” newspaper’s website, headed “Southend Council removed and destroyed Thames Barge it says was falling into a dangerous state”.

It seems that the diligent David Hurrell had been at work and had revived the story, (please contradict this if that is not the case, David).

Southend Council is being reprimanded for not taking steps to establish the history of the vessel and its importance in the story of Thames barges and the river.   Trojan was moored at Leigh’s Two Tree Island, and was the former headquarters of the Leigh Motor Boat Club.   She had been a feature of Leigh Marshes for more than 20 years.

David is quoted, as an SSBR member, as being disappointed Council officials did not give somebody the chance to restore the barge.   He said: “She would have made a really good restoration project but Southend Council decided to destroy it”.  

The article goes on to quote SSBR Vice Chairman, Richard Walsh, who said the barge was the last  survivor of a group of eight boats built to carry 180 tons of cargo on the Thames.   Richard went on to say,  “Her demise is a serious loss to our maritime heritage;  a loss with no obvious serious attempt by the Council to establish its importance nationally and its local trading history  relevance.”

Here’s the link to the full story.

Meanwhile on his own blog, as ever, Nick Ardley gives us some information about Trojan and some pithy comments:-   “The Olympic Legacy came to the heart of the Thames estuary recently… Southend Council have destroyed a historic vessel, it is reported, in the name of beautifying the waterfront for visitors who might wander along the sea wall to the south of Leigh rail station. ……………………………… Southend had a barging heritage, once.   It purports to be a ‘seaside town’;  its maritime past helped in its rise as an entity rather than remaining the east end of Prittlewell.   Maybe, Southend could have had a real Olympic Legacy … their very own barge … taking local school children afloat around the Thames basin … following the local trade routes…   Wow, wouldn’t that have been something to shout about.   Don’t be stupid…..”

The Pageant, the barges and some pictures

The Flotilla passes barges moored either side in the Pool of London

The highlight of recent weeks has to be the Queen’s Diamond

Jubilee Pageant on the Thames, where a considerable number of Thames barges took part.   They were in the Avenue of Sail between London Bridge and Wapping rather than in the Pageant itself because they are too tall to go under any of the bridges higher up.

It was an exciting time for those lucky enough to be on board the barges during the Pageant, or those who helped sail them up to the Pool of London.

I have to say that I was disappointed that the Thames sailing barges got so little mention on TV or in the press.   After all, the Pageant was on the River Thames, and they are the boats specially designed for the river and which for so many years carried goods to and from London by river.   I hate criticizing what the Queen was doing, or what her advisers had her do, but I had hoped that when the Royal Barge came under Tower Bridge she would continue right to the end of the Avenue of Sail, and then come back to HMS President.   As it were, the Queen reviewing the Avenue of Sail.   It seems a bit pointless having an Avenue of Sail if the principal person is not going to sail through it.     I hope the barge crews didn’t feel too disappointed.

We have established a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant album in our Gallery on Flickr.   Go to the Gallery page, click on the link, and you will see the QDJP folder.   There are only a few pictures on at the moment, but we shall be adding to them regularly.   Incidentally, if any of the barges which took part would like to send us their pictures, we will be happy to include them.    Send them to us at:-

(Tricia Gurnett)

News of Thalatta

Peter Phillips tells us that Thalatta will be carrying out Day Sails again in August.   More details soon.

Memories of Memory

Frances Dalesman, who volunteered on sb Memory in 1961, has contacted us asking for information about her.

Our splendid Hon Secretary, John White, has come up trumps again, and has provided the following which has been passed on to Frances direct.   We thought, though, that it was a story which others might like to read.

“The Sailing Barge Preservation Society bought Memory in 1958 to keep alive the sight of a working sailing barge, but, following a collision in the Thames, she was taken to a yard at Grays where it was found that there was considerably more rot in her timbers than had been thought.    There was little money in the Trust to repair her, so she was laid up at Lower Halstow, finally being sold when there were no further funds forthcoming.  In 1968 the owners became Fellowship Afloat and she was used as a base to teach youngsters to sail.   She was badly damaged by fire at Tollesbury in 1990.   In 1991 Memory was bought  by Peter Sands with a view to restoring her, but she was hulked at Tollesbury, O.S. Ref: TL.969.109. 4/11/1999 Register closed, not renewed.”


Lifeboat helps Cambria

Found on the “interweb” today an article which brings together two of my interests:  barges and the RNLI.

Of course, I was sorry to hear that someone on the Cambria, (doesn’t say if it was a crew member or a visitor), had fallen and was injured, but glad that the RNLI could help.   Cambria was at Erith, and the incident took place about 3.00am last Wednesday when she had come down river after the River Pageant.

Here’s the link to the story on the This is Local London website. 

After the Pageant, Cygnet takes some time off at Eel Pie Island

After the  Jubilee Pageant Des Kaliszewki dropped Cygnet’s mast, and set her bridge sail and mizzen to sail through the bridges before the trip boats got under way.   Under Westminster and on,  now under motor he had the aim of passing under Richmond Half Lock to anchor and spend the day there.   In fact he dropped anchor just below Eel Pie Island, and called at the Barmy Arms to meet SSBR Chairman, Elizabeth Wood.  Next morning Cygnet tied at Twickenham Yacht Club to take on water (and dispose of their elsan) before returning down river back to Snape.

(Words and photograph by David Wood)

Sign the petition to show the BBC we didn’t like their coverage

The press and social network sites have been full of criticism of the BBC for its coverage of the Jubilee Weekend events, and particularly of the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.

If, like the writer, you were bitterly disappointed that instead of seeing the one thousand boats we were promised, we got cookery demonstrations, artists with soggy paintings of the river, and inane comments from second rate so-called celebrities, to say nothing of total inaccuracies about the Queen, the Royal Family, the boats and the order they were in, then please sign this e-petition.

“BBC’s Dire Coverage of the Thames Flotilla and other Jubilee Events

We the undersigned are appalled at the BBC’s dire coverage and reporting of the Jubilee events especially during the Thames Flotilla on Sunday June 3. We are particularly concerned at the lack of professionalism with regards to the presentation, editing and camera angles. We are shocked at the use of the term ‘Her Royal Highness’ when referring to Her Majesty the Queen. We are appalled at the total lack of knowledge shown by the presenters of the individual boats appearing in the Flotilla, especially regarding the Historic Boats and the ‘Little Boats of Dunkirk.’ We were most disappointed that the Spirit of Chartwell was not shown passing through Tower Bridge. This programme was transmitted worldwide and was a national embarrassment. We are also concerned that the Olympics will be likewise dumbed down.”

You can sign the petition via this link:


The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

This is the link to an excellent map and article about the Pageant, which appears on the London Town website.   Thanks to Mark Tilley of for pointing it out to us and allowing us to use it.

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