Category Archives: SSBR Archive

A good day for an AGM

Very well attended SSBR AGM today at The Three Daws, Gravesend.   The room was full.

Chairman, Elizabeth Wood, had come to the end of her three year term of office, in which much has been achieved. She thanked all her fellow Committee members for their help to her and to the Society.

Secretary, John White, said that inquiries from people seeking information about barges on which family members had worked, etc, averaged two a week.   In addition, he was working on a book about the 4,500 sailing barges for which he held records.   It would probably be called something like The Barge Directory.   He was making good progress with it, but there was still much to do.   The earliest barge he had found was built in 1751.

Treasurer, Graham Dent, presented audited accounts for 2014, which showed a loss of £2,877, but this had been caused for good reasons.   There had been extra expenditure to mark our 50th anniversary year, and members had received free of charge two books, The Prowess of Charlie Fielder and Still in the Samphire, which involved printing and postage costs.    Excellent value for members.   Graham thanked Chris Snelling for examining the accounts.

Membership Secretary, Margaret Blackburn, reported that membership in 2014 totalled 421, so keeping us well above what had been our target of 400.   27 new members had joined in that year.   To date, in 2015, 369 membership subscriptions had been received, including 9 new members, so hopefully we would maintain our numbers and maybe increase them.

Charles Traill, Editor of the twice-yearly Mainsheet, said he was very grateful for the news and information provided to him by members and for photographs he was sent.   He thanked Margaret and Brian Blackburn for proof-reading and despatching the magazine.   Next year would see the 100th edition of Mainsheet published, and in the same year the annual Topsail publication would reach its 50th edition.   So something special would be needed.

As well as being Editor of Topsail, Richard Walsh co-ordinates other Society publications and keeps us informed about other barge publications.   Still in the Samphire by the late David Wood reflects the history of the Society gathered from Committee minutes and the recollections of David and other members, and had been published in 2014 to celebrate the Society’s 50th anniversary.   Also written by David Wood, (a long-serving Committee member), together with Richard Walsh, is The Prowess of Charlie Fielder.   It has received excellent reviews, including one by a distinguished reviewer who described it as “ground-breaking”.

The next Society publication, (currently being prepared), is the history of EJ Goldsmiths of Grays, the company which had the biggest fleet of sailing barges.   It is being written by Graham Dent and edited by Richard Walsh, with many pieces of information about both the fleet and the Goldsmith family continuing to be received.

Our Archivist, Don Wright, reported that 2014 had been a good year for the donation of photographs, manuscripts, books, etc, to our Archive at Fambridge.   More than 16,000 items had now been catalogued, with a further 4,000 partly done.   Don said that members were welcome to visit the Archive by appointment, and that anyone who wished to do so should contact him.

The next item on the Agenda was the election of officers and Committee members followed by the presentation of the Society’s three trophies to the winners for the year.

Richard Walsh was elected SSBR’s new Chairman;  Charles Traill was elected Vice Chairman;  the other members of the Committee were re-elected, to be joined by a new member, Linda Hoy.   Since the meeting, Tim Mileson has been co-opted to the Committee.

The trophy winners were:-

Half Model  –  Robin Neale for cataloguing the Charles Dance collection.

Colindell  –  Toby Lester and Linda Hoy for the restoration of sb Ironsides.

Deadeye  –  posthumously to the late David Wood for The Prowess of Charlie Fielder.

Chairman Emeritus, Tony Farnham, kindly donated a barge picture  –  a steel engraving  –  to be raffled for the Society’s funds. 

After a break for a welcome cup of tea, two films were shown:  a short dvd made by Robert Gillard of his father’s cine film of the 1966 Medway match, and one by Simon North about the restoration of sb Centaur.

See what you’re missing if you’re not a member!

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SSBR will be at Fambridge Festival

Great news  –  there’s going to be a Fambridge Festival at North Fambridge DSCF0857Yacht Station on Sunday 24th May, and SSBR will be there.

Our Archive will be open and one of our committee will be there to show you the vast collection of photographs, books, documents and other artifacts about Thames sailing barges.   Sterling work has been done over the years by our Archivist, Don Wright, ably assisted by Society Secretary, John White, in getting all this treasury of information catalogued and properly stored.  (Picture shows John and Don outside the Archive.)

Then down by the river, we shall have a gazebo with display panels and literature about the Society of Sailing Barge Research, and our committee will be very

Membership form

Membership form

happy to talk to visitors about barges and the Society.   Our books and magazines will be on sale and we shall, of course, also have membership forms there.   At £20 a year it is great value and you will receive our two excellent publications, Topsail annually and Mainsheet twice a year.   And members receive occasional books published by the Society for Sailing Barge Research free of charge;  last year there were two excellent such freebies, Still in the Samphire, the Society’s 50th anniversary history, and The Prowess of Charlie Fielder. 

The festival will coincide with the Old Gaffers Association 30th Anniversary Crouch Rally visit to the North Fambridge Yacht Club.   There will be gig racing on the river, and stands including those taken by the Coastguard, the RNLI, a sail-maker, and many more.   sb Ironsides will be present. 

More details nearer the date.

 

From the back of my head

The committee members of SSBR usually get advance warning that the latest edition of Mainsheet is on its way.  So when that light thud came as the post hit the doormat this morning I guessed it had arrived.

Charles Traill always plays his cards close to his chest and will never tell us, beyond perhaps a small hint about one item, what the contents will be.   It has to be a surprise.   So there is always much interest in what we will find when we open the publication.

As agreed at a committee meeting in January, Charles had included a resumé of our deliberations about the future, and with it was a photograph of the committee.

“Gosh”, I thought, “my hair does look nice, all those lovely long curls”.   I hate having my photograph taken, but this was good, this was acceptable.   For dear Charles had stood behind me to take his picture of the committee and it was a photo of the back of my head!

What is more important though, and much more worth saying, is that theMainsheet Cover current Mainsheet lives up to its reputation as a first class magazine.

Those of you who follow The Barge Blog and its Facebook page see interesting and often chatty news about barges, barge people and the barge world, together with great photos, old and new.   But you could get so much more if you joined the Society for Sailing Barge Research.   For an amazing annual subscription of £20 you not only help preserve documents, photographs and artifacts on Thames sailing barges and promote research into the vessels, you also receive two copies of Mainsheet each year and an annual Topsail, our acclaimed in depth study of the history of sailing barges.   And you also receive discounts on other publications commissioned by the Society.   Here’s a link to the  SSBR Membership Form .   Do join us now.

Jack Beazley, model-maker and photographer, RIP

We heard today that Cyril Charles Beazley, (known as Jack), sadly died on 24th October at the age of 82.   Jack, who lived in Dagenham, recently had a major operation lasting nine-and-a-half hours.

At the May 2011 Annual General Meeting of SSBR Jack Beazley was awarded the Half Model Trophy in recognition of his support to the Society in providing barge photographs and of donating the CC Beazley Collection of Photographs and Negatives to the SSBR Archive.   Unfortunately Jack was not able to be at the meeting to receive the Trophy so Richard Walsh accepted it on his behalf.   The photograph shows SSBR Chairman Emeritus Tony Farnham presenting the Half Model to Richard.

This year, of course, the Half Model needed to come back for its new recipient, so I went to visit Jack at his Dagenham home in June in order to collect it, and sure enough I was given more photos and negatives for the Archive.  

That day I was on my way to the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge at Chingford for a meeting with the Curator, and had allowed half an hour to be with Jack.   In fact, I missed my meeting completely as I spent well over an hour with him.   He asked if I would like to see his models and showed me where he works on them.   He was currently working on a model of Cutty Sark, and showed me the very fine thread he was using for the rigging, all the plans and tools, and so on.   As well as ships, he had made splendid models of railway engines, and over the years had won awards for his model-making.   He also had a collection of clocks.  He visited boot fairs and bought old clocks, removed and restored the mechanisms, researched the type of wooden case each clock should have, and then made it.   Some of them were large striking clocks with a pendulum, and he told me that his neighbours sometimes complained about the noise of the striking in the night!

Jack Beazley was a fascinating character and I am so glad I had the chance to meet him. 

(Words and picture – Tricia Gurnett)

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