Category Archives: sb Pudge
Thames Sailing Barge Trust has asked for our help in finding information about and photographs of William (Bill) Watson. Here are the details:-
“Information Required – Can You Help? especially old London & Rochester Bargemen.
“The Thames Sailing Barge Trust is researching the life of William Watson who was skipper of sailing barge Pudge between January 1923 and December 1949, when it is believed he retired. He also took Pudge to Dunkirk.
“Bill Watson was born in Barling, but lived much of his life around Strood and Rochester working for the London & Rochester Barge Co. Ltd.
“At long last it has been discovered that Bill died on the 20th April 1964 at the age of 83. He was living on a houseboat called the Sinbad, which was moored by Canal Road, Strood.
“The Trust has only one photograph of him and is keen to find more.
“Any stories about his life, and in particular if anyone knew him between 1949 when he retired and his death in 1964, would be welcome, as would information about his boat Sinbad. The Trust has come across the name of Peter Joseph Davis who may have known him before he died. If anyone can help with information on this person, it would be appreciated.
If you can help in any way, please email John Rayment at email@example.com. THANK YOU”
Pudge is going to the Ipswich Maritime Festival and you can visit her there on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August. She will be moored at Orwell Quay, Ipswich, and will be open to the public from 10.30 to 18.00 each day. Entry on board is free, although donations to the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, which owns and maintains Pudge, will be very welcome and will go towards her upkeep.
If you’re in the Ipswich area this weekend, do pay Pudge a visit and find out about the story of her involvement at Dunkirk.
Here’s the link to the Maritime Festival’s website, which has all the details.
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!”
The Match was well advertised on the Quay and Promenade at Maldon, but it was disappointing that so few people were at either place for when the barges returned. Probably the time, the last one arrived at about 5.30pm, and the very cold wind by then put them off. Certainly, apart from The Barge Blog, there were only two people at the far end of the Promenade by the statue who knew what was happening.
Click here for the Results, courtesy of the Sailing Barge Association.
Why not visit them at Maldon Quay and have a guided tour of their two Thames Barges, Pudge and Centaur.
Admission is free, but donations will be gratefully received to help keep the barges sailing.
Monday 6th May – There will be shanty singers performing on board throughout the day. Barges open from 10.30am.
There will be displays showing the work of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust on board and refreshments will be available.
The Trust looks forward to welcoming you aboard.
The thing about The Barge Blog, the SSBR Facebook page, and the websites and pages of the individual barges is you learn a tremendous amount from them. Between us, we have contributors and “commenters” who are not slow in coming forward to give us information about the snippets of news we feature, or photographs we publish where we don’t know very much about them. And speaking from The Barge Blog perspective, we are very glad that they do.
This week, for example, Ryan Dale has posted a link to a picture, and has said, “not a Thames barge but it’s a spritsail rig in Italy!!”
He gave this link to the Caravan Stage Company which performs on the deck of a 30 metre tall ship as the Caravan Stage Tall Ship Theatre. The boat, the Amara Zee, is based on the traditional design of a Thames Sailing Barge, and has the best of contemporary marine and theatre technology. With its shallow draft of 1.2 metres and its self-lowering masts via on-deck winches the boat can access virtually any waterfront community. The Amara Zee uses the masts and rigging for the scenery, light and sound equipment and special effects. The shows are staged on the entire deck, on the masts and rigging, on the water and land surrounding the vessel with the audience sitting on the shore.
It was not long before Martin Phillips joined in to tell us:- “She was built in Canada, I believe by a guy called John Dearden who was a bargeman in the UK. I sailed with him on Pudge back in the early 70s, (when I was a teenager), and I think that he had got involved with the TBSC through Silvertown Lighterage which ran May, Ethel and other barges at the time for Tate & Lyle. John emigrated, (not sure but I think he went to Montreal when the May or the Ethel were shipped over there and decided to stay). He started his own shipyard which designed and built this Thames Barge. This is not a new thing because actually barges were built for UK trade in Sweden and Holland in the old days!! It might be worth mentioning this to Geoff Harris as he went to Canada on May too, so I am sure he knows about John Dearden.”