Category Archives: sb Cambria

Medway Match 2015 taken by Chriss Hallam from Cambria

We’ve added to our list of videos the lovely film made by Chriss Hallam

Photo courtesy Chriss Hallam

of the 2015 Medway Barge Match.   He was on board sb Cambria, so there are some good shots of her deck, rigging, and so on, including a nice one of Skipper Ian at the wheel.   We like the music too!

Here’s the link

Tony Farnham presents picture to Cambria Trust

Off on the Ferry to Gravesend today for the Cambria Trust Tony Farnham presents picture to Cambria Trust at AGM 2015Annual 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

Cambria’s horseshoe leads to the story of a war-time barge

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.     


Help needed with Cambria’s painting

News from Dave Brooks about Cambria.

“Cambria is now in the dry dock at Oare Creek.    If anybody has any spare time to devote to painting the hull it would be appreciated as we only have a short time in there.

“Tomorrow Ryan may be pressure washing the bottom, so painting activity could be restricted to the topsides for a while.   Paint and implements are on board the barge.”


Hugh gets to work with the polish

Dave Brooks has provided this terrific photo of Hugh Perks cleaning Cambria’s brass.   Good old Hugh, helping out.   Mind you, fellow SSBR Committee Member, Roger Newlyn says, “What you have to do to get a turn on the wheel!!”

Hugh Perks cleans Cambria's brass (DB)

A round-up of the Swale Match

We’ve seen some really great photos of Saturday’s Swale Match.   So, to start with, here’s one that Hugh Perks sent us together with his reflections on the Match.   He was lucky enough to be on board Cambria so was able to observe his fellow SSBR Committee member, Dave Brooks, at work.


Swale Match 2013 (RHP)


Hugh writes, “Yesterday’s Swale Match  –  Plenty of wind, Force 6, got up to 33mph at one time and on Cambria we had chine out of the water frequently, lying over nicely as photo shows.    Dave Brooks was on the port bowlin’ all day;  he must have lost two stones with all his hard work.”

More pictures to come.

Anniversary Thames Match attracts 16 Barges

It was a great achievement to gather 16 barges for the Thames Match on Saturday.   ThamesMatch2013 (DBrooks)It would always have been a special occasion as the 150th anniversary of the first match, but was made more special  –  and more poignant  –  by the sudden death at the end of last year of Mark Boyle who had re-started the matches in the 1990s and done so much to drive them forward.   All credit then to the Committee who picked up the reins, (oh dear, we are into horse metaphors now!), and provided such a special 2013 match.    Not least, mention must be made of Richard Walsh, our own SSBR Vice Chairman, who stepped in as Match Secretary.

The weather was lovely for spectators and those taking part, but the lack of wind at the start caused big problems.   This year the match finished at Erith rather than Gravesend and the winners of the three classes were:-

Coasting Class  –  Cambria

Champion Staysail Class  –  Niagara

Champion Bowsprit Class  –  Edme

SSBR Committee member and Cambria Trust Secretary, Dave Brooks, has published an excellent report of the match on the Cambria website.   As he says, he had defected for the weekend to Lady Daphne, but he can’t resist watching out for Cambria!   Here’s the link to the report on the Cambria Blog.   The splendid picture was taken by Dave Brooks.

Cambria and Waverley at Gravesend

Photos of the paddle steamer Waverley, when she was doing trips on the Thames with Waverley at Gravesend 2012last 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.  

Another great film by Simon North on the SCST’s work

This year, 2012, the Sea Change Sailing Trust chartered sb Cambria several times for its work with young people.

Simon North sailed with them on one charter to make this film about the young people on board and to look at why SCST uses Thames sailing barges.

Here’s the link to the film.

Cambria’s compass in memory of Tony Ellis

Here’s the Compass which was presented to sb Cambria in memory of Tony Ellis, and a close up of the brass plate commemorating the occasion.

Tony Ellis was the inspiration behind the project to restore Cambria.   It was he who eventually persuaded The Maritime Trust to sell the rapidly deteriorating vessel to The Cambria Trust for one pound.   It took twenty years to complete the project and for Cambria to rejoin the fleet of Thames sailing barges.

Sadly Tony Ellis died in 2008, three years before Cambria sailed again.   The Ellis family donated a sum to enable a large old compass to be bought and installed on the barge as a memorial to Tony and it was blessed at a short memorial service during the re-dedication of Cambria in May 2012.




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