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. 


Posted on 16/07/2012, in sb British Empire and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. andrea gridley

    one of the shopkeepers told me a few years ago a lorry turned up without permission and grabbed what scrap they could causing extensive damage luckily theyd hidden a few bits away which now form a kind of scupture by the cafe.


  2. Thanks for the information Andrea. It’s good to have more to add to the story.


  3. I looked on board the British Empire in 1991/92 when she was still afloat alongside the mill and though leaky, she was still complete and quite smart to look at. It’s really sad to see how she has become in such a relatively short time


  4. Colin Swindale

    I well remember British Empire as a timber lighter for Brown’s at Heybridge Basin as I used to climb all over all of the barges there when “Dillbery” Clarke was not around. When the lock was enlarged in 1964 Brown’s fleet were sold off but she remained in the Basin for another two years or so eventually going to Conyer where she was partially rigged out and seen out under sail a few times. In late 1979 a new steel mast and spreet were made up for her and fitted in 1980. She lay for a while at pin mill fully rigged and eventually finished up in Brightlingsea where she was to become a sailing school but finished up with a writ on her. She was sold very cheaply and was taken to Battlesbridge on the way there getting ashore and breaking a leeboard, She never got under way again and lay there looking sadder and sadder and finally became tidal. Some years later a former crew member of mine tried to set up a trust to restore her back to sailing condition and many tons of mud was removed from inside her, it was found at this point due to the berth that she was hogged around 18″ and they were unable to refloat her due to damage to her bottom. The trust fizzled out and poor old British Empire was left to sink further into the mud.


  5. Thank you for the information, Colin. It’s good to have this story.


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