Monthly Archives: July 2012

Cambria open to public this week, and programme of Talks

Sailing Barge Cambria                  

Open to the Public, Gravesend Town Pier – Monday 30th July to Friday 3rd August 2012

Wednesday 1st August: Talk – Evolution of the Thames Sailing Barge by Richard Hugh Perks.  Talks at 3.30pm and 7.30pm. Admission £4.00.  Proceeds on behalf of Cambria.


Thursday 2nd August: Talk – The Story of Lifeboats and the RNLI by Tricia Gurnett .  Talks at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.  Admission £2.00. Proceeds will be shared.


Friday 3rd August: Talk – 200 years of the Thames and Medway Canal.   Talks at 11.30am and 3.30pm.  Admission £2.00. Proceeds will be shared.


The Cambria Trust           Heritage Lottery Fund

Edith May restoration photos stolen

Of course the despicable people who stole from a barge wouldn’t know that one of the laptops contained such precious material, but any theft is distressing for the victims.    We give below the message that Ed Gransden has posted, and urge everyone to spread the word.    We are truly sorry to learn of the loss of these Edith May restoration photos. 

Ed Gransden says  –

“HELP!   On Wednesday 25th July, at 1930hrs, two laptops (Sony Vaio and HP) were stolen from sailing barge Edith May at Lower Halstow. Reward offered for safe return of the HP laptop, which contains irreplaceable photos of the Edith May’s restoration and relaunch.  Please call 07814 950442 with any information.   Please repost to spread the message!”

Thalatta in the evening sun

Excellent photo of Thalatta at anchor in Queenborough Creek.

Picture  –  Dave Brooks

Sails sparkle as the Tall Ships go up river

Heard quite by chance that a flotilla of 14 tall ships was going up river from Tilbury.    They are to provide short sails on the Thames in London during the Olympics under the banner Sail Royal Greenwich, and gourmet catering is promised plus a view of all the London sights.

Normally when I go to Tilbury Landing Stage for such an event, there are only a few hardened watchers there, but this morning, driven no doubt by the school holidays and the excellent weather, it was packed.   People everywhere;  the ferry passengers had a great view;  and over there at the new Gravesend Town Pier pontoon was a lady I thought I knew  –  a grey and black lady with fresh paint.   Cambria back ready for the Thames Match on Saturday.

The tall ships were moored at Tilbury Landing Stage overnight, and took passengers on board this morning, who, we were told, had been brought down river by Thames Clipper.   They left the landing stage under motor, but soon the sails began to unfurl.  

Then, on a sparkling sunny morning, they formed up  into a wonderful stately parade of sail for the journey up to Greenwich.    Standing on the landing stage, unfortunately I was facing straight into the sun so the pictures I took are darker than the beautiful day would have suggested.

Once the sails had disappeared  behind Tilbury docks, I raced by car back to Grays and down to the riverside by the old Wouldham works.   I missed the frontrunner, but was in time to see all the rest as they came past.   It was low water, so they had to be right in the middle to pick up the channel.   And luckily the huge Cobelfret ships stayed well back until the parade had passed.

Then they were gone.   The Sail Royal Greenwich website here tells you all about what the ships will be doing, and also mentions that today’s sail had to be curtailed.   They were not allowed to go right to Greenwich for security reasons, presumably Olympics security.   A friend tells me it was disappointing earlier as the river front at Greenwich was packed with people who had come to watch, but the ships had to turn back.   Tonight though they eventually made it to Greenwich. 

(Words and pictures – Tricia Gurnett)

Angela & Peter takes to the water

Back at the start of the year JP Lodge was kind enough to post a good number of photos of the barge he was building on the SSBR Facebook page.  To have a look at them, this is the link.

Today there is great news from JP, who tells us that he launched the new barge last Thursday, and her maiden voyage was from Bradwell to Tollesbury Saltings on Friday.   He also tells us that he has named her “Angela & Peter” in honour and in memory of his parents  –  a lovely idea. 

This, in his own words, is his report of what happened on Thursday and Friday:-

“Sailing Barge Angela & Peter launched successfully on Thursday lunchtime, and maiden voyage Friday morning from Bradwell to Tollesbury.

“I have named her in memory and in honour of my parents;  my mother who first introduced me to sailing and particularly sailing barges and my father who showed me that pretty much nothing is impossible.

“The launch was very gentle and controlled  –  thank you Ian and Dave  –  and she settled about five inches light and slightly lopsided, (probably because of the weight of the mast and sprit on the starboard deck).   We checked the prop thrust and bow thruster then gently motored to the end of B pontoon for the night, and ten minutes on Ballast Shifting later were on an even keel once again. 

“Delivery Crew:  myself, Steve Hunt, Nic K, Malcolm and Annette.

“Friday morning we motored out of the marina, across the river towards the Nass beacon, then in via South Channel and up the creek, arriving far too early to get into the berth so turned (eventually) and motored back out to the leavings, turned again (easily this time) and back in, this time with enough water to nudge the berth.

“We were met by Flavian who helped bring ropes across and, as the tide flooded, eased in inch by inch and then sideways up to the staging.

“She is now safely installed in her mud berth on the Tollesbury Saltings.   If you stand on the hard and look towards the large red lightship, you can’t see the lightship any more because somebody has parked a large grey barge in the way!”

No pictures yet.   As JP says, he was a bit busy, but others took some photos and he is hoping to get hold of them.   Can’t wait to see them.


Barging about the Rivers – in the Sun!

Much better weather around the Thames area makes it a grand weekend for the barges.  Here’s what some of them have to say over the last couple of days:-            

Peter Phillips says, Thalatta doing what she does best!  Cyril, Roger, Rita and a barge load of children cruising the Blackwater.”  (photo – Peter Phillips)

Thames Barge Orinoco says, “Fantastic charter yesterday!  And again today;  all sitting in the sunshine on the deck watching the world go by.”  (photo – sb Orinoco)

Annie Meadows says, “We have 45 artists on board today;  hoping I will be allowed to photograph some of their work.”

Cambria is at Pin Mill, where Richard Titchener, Hilary Halajko and the Sea Change youngsters on board have been busy.   Dave Brooks went to visit them and took some pictures.  

Dave says, “Cambria is on the blocks at Pin Mill, and Skipper Richard Titchener is showing the way as Sea Change do a fantastic job of painting her up in readiness for the Thames match next weekend.”   (photo – Dave Brooks)

Dave goes on to say “The locals didn’t recognize her with the black leeboards, so when in Pin Mill do as Bob Roberts would have done and paint them.”   Cambria now has tri-colour leeboards.   (photo – Dave Brooks)

Dave had something else to tell us too.   “For the first time in over 40 years Cambria returns to Pin Mill.  It stirred a few memories of some of the people living there who remember her from the Bob Roberts days.”  (Photo – Dave Brooks)

Meanwhile two special events are going on today:-   the Harwich Sea Festival and Lifeboat Day and the Nautical Festival at Faversham.   Lovely weather for both of them, with lots of good things to see and do, and a great atmosphere. 

And now Ed Gransden joins in to tell us, “Sailing past Horrid hill, riverside.  Cracking day today  –  I knew this summer would be a good one….” 




sb British Empire in a sorry state

There’s a rather sad piece about the sb British Empire on a website called “Sniffy’s Righting”.

British Empire at Battlesbridge 2012 – seems to be a rubbish dump

The writer describes a visit to Battlesbridge some 15 years ago when a group was hoping to restore the barge.   At the time, the piece says, it was possible to walk with care on the deck despite some rotting timbers.  The project didn’t come to anything but did make the writer very interested in Thames sailing barges, and living near Maldon there was plenty of opportunity to see them.  

Recently “Sniffy” has returned to Battlesbridge and was shocked and saddened to see the British Empire’s present condition.   Timbers are rotten and broken, and she is being used as a rubbish dump.   A tragic end indeed for a famous name.

Here’s the link to the story.

And here’s a close up showing the state of the barge. 

It’s a barge, but not quite as we know it

The thing about The Barge Blog, the SSBR Facebook page, and the websites and pages of the individual barges is you learn a tremendous amount from them.   Between us, we have contributors and “commenters” who are not slow in coming forward to give us information about the snippets of news we feature, or photographs we publish where we don’t know very much about them.  And speaking from The Barge Blog perspective, we are very glad that they do.

This week, for example, Ryan Dale has posted a link to a picture, and has said, “not a Thames barge but it’s a spritsail rig in Italy!!”

He gave this link to the Caravan Stage Company which performs on the deck of a 30 metre tall ship as the Caravan Stage Tall Ship Theatre.   The boat, the Amara Zee, is based on the traditional design of a Thames Sailing Barge, and has the best of contemporary marine and theatre technology. With its shallow draft of 1.2 metres and its self-lowering masts via on-deck winches the boat can access virtually any waterfront community.  The Amara Zee uses the masts and rigging for the scenery, light and sound equipment and special effects.   The shows are staged on the entire deck, on the masts and rigging, on the water and land surrounding the vessel with the audience sitting on the shore.

It was not long before Martin Phillips joined in to tell us:-   “She was built in Canada, I believe by a guy called John Dearden who was a bargeman in the UK.   I sailed with him on Pudge back in the early 70s, (when I was a teenager), and I think that he had got involved with the TBSC through Silvertown Lighterage which ran May, Ethel and other barges at the time for Tate & Lyle.   John emigrated, (not sure but I think he went to Montreal when the May or the Ethel were shipped over there and decided to stay).   He started his own shipyard which designed and built this Thames Barge.   This is not a new thing because actually barges were built for UK trade in Sweden and Holland in the old days!!   It might be worth mentioning this to Geoff Harris as he went to Canada on May too, so I am sure he knows about John Dearden.”



Orinoco likened to a cat called Ulysses!

Found on the internet today, a nice little piece about Orinoco.   It was on the Geograph website, which has the tag line, “photograph every web square”.                                            

And here’s what the website says about the photo:-

“The sailing barge ‘Orinoco’, moored at Iron Wharf, Faversham Creek.

“A calm, warmish June evening  –  warmer than many in June 2012.   In the distance, the unmistakable silhouette of Oyster Bay House, with its hoist high above the creek.   A little nearer, there is what looks rather like the awning over a railway station platform  –  this has in fact been rigged up over a vessel undergoing restoration.

“I love the idea of giving the adventurous name ‘Orinoco’ to a modest coastal-going Thames barge  –  it’s a bit like calling your cat Ulysses.”

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