Monthly Archives: January 2013
Lady Daphne, built in 1923 by Short Bros Ltd, was sold in 1996 to her present company. A massive restoration programme has taken place with considerable replacement of the structure and the internal fittings in the last two winter refits. All this work has been undertaken whilst building up a successful charter business, and competing in the annual Barge Matches.
Here’s the link to the advert.
The sailing barge world was stunned by the recent news of the death at age 55 of Capt Mark Boyle, the organising secretary of the Thames Sailing Barge Match, since it was revived by him to celebrate the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day in 1995.
Mark’s love of sailing barges was kindled by the gift of a model kit when he was a child. He built the model and was later taken to Maldon, Essex to see the real thing. To his disappointment he realised that his model was full of inaccuracies, and on returning home he set about putting it right!
Mark was a gifted historian with a wealth of knowledge on subjects as diverse as sailing barges and the Spanish Peninsular War. He was also a talented author, writing articles for magazines about the sailing barges and his experiences afloat, having ‘gone to sea’ in his teens in the coasting trade aboard ex. ‘sailormen’ by then trading under power alone. Through later years he crewed aboard the charter and hospitality barges that plied the coast, gaining his Sailing Barge Master’s ticket in 1987.
Not content with working aboard the last of the trading barges, Mark developed his shipwrighting skills which have left their mark on many of the genre. These include the Cabby, Dawn and, most recently, the magnificently restored Cambria to which he applied his talent and satisfied his barge preservation aspirations at the same time. He recognised that for the restoration movement to have lasting relevance, it is equally important to preserve the environment of the sailing barge. Sadly, the wharves and bargeyards have fallen prey to much questionable re-development, but Mark realised the equal importance of the ‘on the water’ activities, and saw an opportunity to contest the Championship of the London River again through the conduit of a revived Thames Sailing Barge Match.
The enormity of the task before him in restoring this, the original barge match, to its rightful place in the sailing barge calendar would have scuppered many a capable organiser. In the wake of the success of the 1995 race, there was an appetite for more. Mark sought out the families which had played their part 100 and more years ago, with the result that the iconic names of sailing barge owners Everard, Clarabut and Goldsmith became associated with the Match once again. The outcome of his effort and commitment is evidenced by the current series being the longest ever continuous revival of the race since its founding by Henry Dodd in 1863.
The sailing barge fraternity has lost one of its stalwart supporters and his passing will have a significant impact in many ways. The Thames Match committee has met and decided to continue with the organising of this year’s event, the 150th anniversary of the first, which will take place on Saturday 13th July and be known as The Mark Boyle Memorial Thames Sailing Barge Match in honour of his vision and dedication to a sailing contest almost as old as the America’s Cup.
(This tribute to Mark Boyle was written by Richard Walsh, who is Acting Match Secretary for this year’s Thames Match. It is reproduced from the Thames Barge Match website, where the photograph of Mark also appears.)
Photos of the paddle steamer Waverley, when she was doing trips on the Thames last year, have just been published on the vessel’s Facebook page. Amongst them is this terrific one showing Waverley and sb Cambria on either side of the new pontoon at Gravesend.
When Waverley came into the pontoon for the first time, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a brass band playing on the pier, I was on board Cambria with Dave Brooks and Rob Bassi. We had been expecting quite a few Waverley passengers to visit Cambria and were all ready to show them round. In the end only two were given permission to disembark from the paddle steamer and come on board, and they were only allowed five minutes. A high speed tour took place!
Still it was great to see these two ladies of the sea side by side, and a stirring sight when those huge paddles turned and Waverley continued up river.
National Historic Ships has this piece today about “Historic Sail: Britain’s Surviving Working Craft”, a paperback book by Paul Brown published in association with National Historic Ships UK.
It includes a concise history of the surviving craft that once worked under sail, including, of course, Thames sailing barges.
Pity Christmas is over. This seems like a must have present.
Interesting new idea from sb Repertor. At her base in St Katherine’s Dock, London, she will be offering a Cinema Club.
This is something new, so the website doesn’t have a lot of content at the moment – no programme or gallery yet – but it does explain what it is all about. Called Floating Films and run by volunteers, it will show a wide selection of films, including features and documentaries, as well as special screenings with live music accompaniment and talks with key industry guests.
As a not-for-profit film club there will be a suggested donation of £5, and up to 40 people can be accommodated. So with limited space it will be necessary to book in advance. The bar will be open, and guests are invited to stay on after the screening for discussion or just to enjoy the atmosphere.
The club hopes to raise the profile of the survival of the barge fleet and this forgotten part of London history, whilst providing a unique arts venue for independent film events.
Here’s a screen capture of the website, and this is the link to it.