Category Archives: Barge People
Another award for Topsail Charters Ltd who, last Friday, won “Best Business Contribution to the Community” at the first Pride of Maldon awards.
The company commented: “For the past 31 years we have been a huge part of Maldon’s waterfront and riverside heritage. As a Maldon family-owned business we take special pride in sourcing as much as we can from our local surroundings…..from our food suppliers in Maldon’s High Street, to our 34 local staff, our work with Plume School vocational students, and our new apprenticeships schemes.
“A huge thank you to everyone who continues to support us and for helping us win this award!”
Congratulations to all at Topsail Charters on this well-deserved award.
2017 was a quiet year for Cambria, which caused some level of worry.
2018 is proving much better. Early in April the Sea-Change Sailing Trust started a charter of the barge for several months to be used for their work with young people and for other more unusual sails.
Top of the pile of such voyages must be the coming “Trading Mates on Cambria” weekend which will see Dick Durham and Phil Latham return to the barge where they spent long days as Mates in the last of the trading years in the 1960s.
And you can be part of that great experience by joining the barge for the weekend. See below for full details and how to book.
I hadn’t seen the film before and it’s absolutely fascinating. There are some great pictures of Cambria, below deck, as she is now and some old pictures too including some nice shots of Bob Roberts.
Dick tells some wonderful stories about his fourteen months as the last Mate of Cambria when she was in trade. He was a handsome young man of 18 at the time.
Across on the ferry to Gravesend today for the Cambria Trust AGM,
Highlight of the event was the presentation to the Cambria Volunteer of the Year. The Cambria Cup was presented by Tony Farnham, Cambria’s Honorary Ambassador, to Deben Johnson.
Deben is 17 and has volunteered with sb Cambria for two and a half years. He has sailed as Third Hand on the barge, and has also put his skills to good use on board. As a woodwork apprentice he has carried out considerable work on the barge boat as well as on the barge itself, including work on all the wooden blocks.
The Cambria Cup was won by Cambria in 1930 and subsequently passed into Tony’s ownership. He donated it to the Cambria Trust to be used in this way.
Sorry for the poor quality of the photo – I was not in a good position to take it, either that or the lens was very dirty!
I’m very sorry there have been no posts on The Barge Blog since August. September, October and most of November are my busiest months in “real life” and I just don’t have the time to deal with it, although I do manage the occasional post to the Society’s Facebook page.
Members of the Society should now have received the autumn edition of our excellent magazine Mainsheet – and if you aren’t a member and don’t have Mainsheet then you’re really missing something. Mainsheet contained the news that Hugh Perks has stood down from the Committee of SSBR. We are all very sad that he has come to this decision, although we understand his reasons. Hugh is a founder member of the Society, has held office and has brought his vast knowledge of maritime subjects to our deliberations and indeed to our publications.
Thankfully, Hugh has said that he intends to continue to bombard us with letters, notes, corrections, etc, to keep the Committee on its toes. And as good as his word, he has sent us this splendid photograph of sb Tollesbury. He says:- “Tollesbury is now based at Standard Quay, Faversham, as her former berth at Barking is no longer available. She is looking very smart and well painted up. Her mast and topmast need attention, but the sprit is newly painted. The foliage in pots on the decks and hatches surely qualifies her for the “Valdora Trophy”. Old timers may remember Valdora the ‘flowerpot’ barge at Great Yarmouth in the early 1950s.
“Also at Standard Quay is sb Decima, sporting somewhat virulent green paint in places, and sb Repertor is berthed opposite. “
Off on the Ferry to Gravesend today for the Cambria Trust Annual General Meeting, held at the Port of London Authority headquarters at London River House. The Cambria Trust, of course, owns and maintains the sailing barge Cambria, renowned as the last UK registered vessel to trade under sail alone. A wooden Thames sailing barge, she still has no engine and is completely dependent on the wind.
The AGM was well attended, and it was good to see a number of people who had not met since last year’s meeting. Chairman, Bruce Richardson, reported on a busy year with charters by Rotary International District 1120 and the Sea-Change Sailing Trust, both using the barge for sail training. Cambria had taken part in several of the annual barge matches, doing well, and had been at the Classic Boat Festival in St Katharine’s Dock in September, where on several days she had welcomed 1,000 visitors.
A highlight of the day was the presentation to the Trust of a splendid framed picture of Cambria taking part in the Thames Match of 1936. The picture was a gift to the Trust from Tony and Sandy Farnham, and in handing it over Tony said that he hoped the picture would be installed on board the barge. Our picture shows Tony Farnham, right, presenting the picture to Bruce Richardson.
Picture courtesy of Dave Brooks
We were very sorry indeed to learn of the death of SSBR Committee Member, David Wood.
As well as being a long-term member of the Committee himself, David has been an enormous help to his wife, Elizabeth, in her office as our Chairman.
David has written a number of publications over the years, and members will recall that within the last few months they have received a copy of “Still in the Samphire”, the 50th anniversary history of the Society, and of “The Prowess of Charlie Fielder”. Both of these were written by David Wood, and he has put some considerable years of work into them. Elizabeth tells us that he was still researching and writing other material.
David died very suddenly on Friday 30th January 2015. He was alone at their Twickenham house while Elizabeth was at her family’s home in Sussex. She was talking to David on the telephone, when suddenly she heard a noise, he stopped speaking and she could not raise him. She called a neighbour who went to the house, and discovered that David had suffered a heart attack which he did not survive. It has taken a long time for the post mortem to be held, and the death certificate has only just been issued.
The funeral is to be held next week. In accordance with David’s own wishes it is to be a small low-key occasion for close friends and family. Donations in David’s memory if desired may be sent to the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, c/o Roger Newlyn. Please contact us by e-mail if you need Roger’s address. SocSailingBargeResearch@gmail.com
On behalf of the Committee and members of the Society, we send our most sincere sympathy to Elizabeth and her family.
News today that sb Decima is up for sale. The Apollo Duck website has an advertisement from MJLewis Boatsales of Maldon offering the 1899-built Thames sailing barge for sale at £160,000.
Decima was built by FG Fay & Co of Southampton, being one of twenty identical steel barges built by the company for EJ Goldsmith’s of Grays, who traded her until the late 1940s. The 67 ton, 85 foot barge’s history includes ownership by Rayfields of Gravesend, and then Greenhithe Lighterage as a motor barge.
She was sold out of trade to Dennis Wildish in 1977 and he re-rigged her as a charter barge. In 1999 she was sold to Jeremy Taunton as a houseboat.
Master shipwright and well-known sailing barge restorer Tim Goldsack, her present owner, bought Decima in 2003 and started a major restoration. She was gutted and a substantial number of the hull and deck plates were replaced. She was given a new set of rigging and good second-hand sails. A new Gardner 6LXB engine was fitted. Decima has three cabins, with six berths, and central heating was installed when her owner lived aboard her for two years.
In July 2004 Decima set her sails for the first time in over 15 years, and has since been seen regularly around the East coast. She has recently been based at Heybridge Basin, and in 2010 Wilkin and Son Ltd of Tiptree, Essex, (the famous makers of jams, marmalades, and conserves), became her sponsors. Consequently the Tiptree logo has been displayed in her topsail.
According to the advertisement Decima is now at Faversham. Here’s the link to the advertisement on the Apollo Duck website.
Thanks to the Decima website for the following interesting titbits from her history:-
“Things have not always run smoothly for Decima. She has had many mishaps in her long history. Most notably in 1938, during a severe gale, her crew abandoned her off Great Yarmouth, and she sailed herself across the North Sea to Holland! She was relatively unscathed, and was returned to England where she was repaired and returned to work. On November 17th 1940 she was swamped and sank whilst at anchor off Southend pier with a deck cargo of timber. She was re-floated, refitted, and once again was put back to work!”
Well here’s an interesting post on the Cambria website’s blog!
How amazing it is the way things come to light. When Cambria was being restored a horseshoe was found attached to the wheelhouse. An appeal was made to try to discover how it came to be there, but nobody seemed to know.
Then recently William Collard came up with an answer – a good luck symbol, being the shoe worn by a famous racehorse. He found the information in a collection of articles called ‘Thames at War’ by Bernard Drew. The blog goes on to quote an extract from the articles about a trip on board Cambria that Mr Drew took in WW2 when “Cully” Tovell was skipper. It is a fascinating account of life and work on a Thames sailing barge in war-time. And, interesting for me, the other two members of the crew came from Grays.
Here’s the link to the post on the Cambria blog.