Back in the early part of the year the SSBR Committee heard reports that the sb Trojan, which apparently had been abandoned on Leigh Marshes, had been removed by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and destroyed. We learnt of this through a story that a man had been injured by the fall of a steel wall, although strangely there was no mention that the steel wall in question was part of the hull of a Thames sailing barge – not your everyday building accident!
Everything then went quiet, but yesterday a report appeared on “The Echo” newspaper’s website, headed “Southend Council removed and destroyed Thames Barge it says was falling into a dangerous state”.
It seems that the diligent David Hurrell had been at work and had revived the story, (please contradict this if that is not the case, David).
Southend Council is being reprimanded for not taking steps to establish the history of the vessel and its importance in the story of Thames barges and the river. Trojan was moored at Leigh’s Two Tree Island, and was the former headquarters of the Leigh Motor Boat Club. She had been a feature of Leigh Marshes for more than 20 years.
David is quoted, as an SSBR member, as being disappointed Council officials did not give somebody the chance to restore the barge. He said: “She would have made a really good restoration project but Southend Council decided to destroy it”.
The article goes on to quote SSBR Vice Chairman, Richard Walsh, who said the barge was the last survivor of a group of eight boats built to carry 180 tons of cargo on the Thames. Richard went on to say, “Her demise is a serious loss to our maritime heritage; a loss with no obvious serious attempt by the Council to establish its importance nationally and its local trading history relevance.”
Meanwhile on his own blog, as ever, Nick Ardley gives us some information about Trojan and some pithy comments:- “The Olympic Legacy came to the heart of the Thames estuary recently… Southend Council have destroyed a historic vessel, it is reported, in the name of beautifying the waterfront for visitors who might wander along the sea wall to the south of Leigh rail station. ……………………………… Southend had a barging heritage, once. It purports to be a ‘seaside town’; its maritime past helped in its rise as an entity rather than remaining the east end of Prittlewell. Maybe, Southend could have had a real Olympic Legacy … their very own barge … taking local school children afloat around the Thames basin … following the local trade routes… Wow, wouldn’t that have been something to shout about. Don’t be stupid…..”