Category Archives: Barge People
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.
Tim Kent has taken these pictures of Dinah at St Katherine’s Dock. He says:-
“We’ve been joined at St Kat’s by the very cute miniature barge Dinah.”
with Paul and Jasmine Armour-Marshall.
At last week’s SSBR Committee meeting we talked about sb Ironsides and heard that Toby Lester, owner of Ironsides, hoped to have her sailing again this summer, with more restoration work after that. A lot of new steel has been put into the barge.
Today the Ironsides Facebook page has noted that she is about to come out of dry dock and has published a series of photos of the restoration. It says:-
“Ironsides – So far this has been a very busy week as we are due to leave the dry dock next week, so lots of anti-foul and painting has been done inside and out, but hopefully she is now looking smart. Next job the rigging. “
Here are the facts about Ironsides – Staysail Class; Bob:- Swallowtail with ‘tower’ emblem on blue ground. Official No 112710, 78 ton; Built of Dutch iron at West Thurrock in 1900 by Clarke & Stanfield; 85 x 20.3 x 6.4. Owned by A.P.C.M. and sold to L.R.T.C. in 1928; she was converted to a motor barge in 1938 and traded to northern France. She was sold to Alan Reekie in 1968; re-rigged at Brentford and became a successful racing and charter barge. Afterwards owned by Mark Tower, she was based at Maldon / St Katherine’s. From 2003 she has been at Faversham for refitting. Now owned by Toby Lester and Linda Hoy who plan to have her sailing this year after an extensive refurbishment to her hull, deck and topsides.
We wish Toby and Ironsides all the best for the sailing season.
Photos courtesy of sb Ironsides.
Here’s an interesting read from the East Anglian Daily Times website, (EADT24). It’s about the female Mate of the sb Victor. This is the link.
A few ladies might have something to say about it.
“Dawn is the last of the full-size Thames Sailing Barges built with a tiller. It is the aim of the Dawn Sailing Barge Trust to continue with her restoration so that she is completely back to 1897, her launch year. The next phase is to replace the wheel steering with tiller steerage. The next will be the steel mast and spars with traditional wooden spars. There are many smaller details that will keep the Trust busy for a long while to come, but when complete she will be a full working example of Victorian maritime transportation actually able to carry a full cargo under sail.
“Dawn has just finished another successful season of sailing with many new people able to experience a barge sailing. Anyone interested in getting involved can find out more from the website.”
The new website address is www.dawn1897.com
Our picture, courtesy of Bill Sutherland and taken from his window, shows Dawn taking hay upriver to St Katherine’s Dock recreating the journey she and many others stackies would have made in their heyday.
There’s a good article in The Daily Telegraph about Thames barges. Written by Adam Lusher, it describes his joining the crew of Centaur for the 2013 Pin Mill Match.
Adam was clearly smitten by the barges:-
“As the red ochre sails clustered around the mouth of the Orwell, it was as if the river had returned to the days when the Thames sailing barge was the East Coast’s cargo vessel of choice, not the giant container vessels that now unload at Felixstowe, more maritime tower blocks than ships. It felt all the more dreamlike because it had seemed so improbable.”
He joined Mate, Chris Martin, on a winch but not for long:-
“…….paying crew members can choose their own activity level. Those who wish can take a turn at the winch. The seriously enthusiastic can train to be mates and skippers. Others, however, prefer to help cook lunch or simply to admire the view.
“I strongly recommend the latter. When your smiling crewmate offers you a winch handle, remember that the leeboards both weigh 1.5 muscle-sapping tons. I lasted precisely one tack, before I gasped my excuses and abandoned my station.”
Here’s Adam taking a turn on the winch with mate, Chris Martin.
We would just point out to Adam, though, that tremendous as TSBT’s work with Centaur and Pudge is, there are other Trusts working hard to preserve individual barges, several of them now proudly sailing as members of the active fleet.
Here’s the link to the full story. Well worth a read.
We were delighted today to hear from Jennifer Franks. This is what she says:-
“I am 68 now, but spent lots of time in my childhood on my Dad’s barge. In those days there was the Azima, then later the Ardwina. My brother was on the Pudge.
“My Dad took part in lots of barge matches on the Sirdar and Mirosa, amongst others, and often sailed the Sirdar advertising Bell’s whisky. In 1964, when the Queen opened the new Forth Bridge, my Dad sailed the Sirdar under it. I’ve got the photos and newspaper reports.
“My Dad was fabulous and, as far as I am concerned, Thames bargemen are the best – after my Dad of course!”
Thames Sailing Barge Trust has been successful in obtaining funding of £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for sb Centaur to have a new outer bottom. The work will be done at Oare led by Tim Goldsack, and we are pleased to learn that it is intended to involve apprentice shipwrights once again.
Here’s the link to a video from Shipping TV telling the story.
(Photo courtesy of Thames Sailing Barge Trust)
UPDATE – There’s a nice report about this in the Chelmsford Weekly News, including a photograph of the Trust’s President, Chairman and Vice Chairman with local dignitaries.
Here’s the link to the report.