About the Barge Blog

This is the Blog of the Society for Sailing Barge Research.

We will be bringing you news and gossip about sailing barges and barge people, and pictures of these lovely old vessels.

The Society welcomes new members.

It was founded in 1963, as the Society for Spritsail Barge Research, by a band of of enthusiasts concerned that the rapid decline and possible extinction of these splendid and historically significant craft would pass largely unrecorded.

From the thousands of Thames sailing barges once plying the rivers and estuaries of the south east and beyond, today just a handful survive in active commission with charter parties and business guests replacing the grain, cement, brick and coal cargoes of yesteryear.

The Society is now renamed The Society for Sailing Barge Research, reflecting a broadening interest in other allied craft, the ports from which they sailed and the men who built, owned and sailed them.   It organises walks, talks and exhibitions, and publishes various books and journals on sailing barge related subjects.   Amongst these is “Topsail”, a regular treasure chest of sailing barge history, profusely illustrated with fascinating photographs of long lost craft and the ports they once served.   Members also receive a twice yearly Newsletter, “Mainsheet”, which details the activities of the Society and highlights the fortunes of the barges that survive, as well as providing further snippets of our maritime heritage as ongoing research yields yet more of the barge trade that ceased in 1970 when the Cambria carried her last freight under sail alone.   A few ex sailormen continued as motor barges into the 1980’s.

Membership of the Society for Sailing Barge Research gives great value at only £20 per annum for individual or family membership.   A membership form can be found on the Society’s website  –  click here

We would be delighted to hear from interested readers, or to receive barge news to go on the blog.   Contact us at      SocSailingBargeResearch@gmail.com

The Society’s website is     http://www.sailingbargeresearch.org.uk



  1. andrea gridley

    just incase its of interest to anyone having read about the cambrias lamp i reccomend battlesbridge antiques there is a shop in bones lane where they have loads of lamps and replacement parts and did a brilliant job fixing a very broken lamp that used to belong to the may for me


    • Also a good chance to have a look at the remains of British Empire. For those who have not nbeen around a restoration/refurbishment project this gives an excellant opportunity to see how a wooden barge is constructed.


      • Interested to find more about the restoration project of British Empire. Th.is is the first I’ve seen about it


    • also google ‘base camp’ at Littlehampton for all sort of oil lights – wick and vapourising.


  2. Thanks for the information Andrea.


  3. British Empire is not a restoration project (at least as far as I know!) however she does give an excellent opportunity to see at close range, how a barge was constructed. This is because the way in which she is gradualy rotting away has left an almost “cut away drawing” type hulk which can be seen very clearly from the car park.
    The reference to restoration projects is because the method of construction is visible in a way in which only occurs when a barge is being rebuilt/refurbished/restored, or, sadly as in this case, rotting away!


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