Category Archives: Thames Barge Match
It was a great achievement to gather 16 barges for the Thames Match on Saturday. 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.
An exhibition entitled “From Ware to the Sea – The History of Sailing Barges”
opens at Ware Museum (SG12 9AL) on 6th May for 9 weeks. I have pulled this together with the help of SSBR colleagues and others, in my spare time, when not organising this year’s Mark Boyle Memorial Thames Sailing Barge Match on 13th July, finishing at Erith for the first time in 117 years!
The exhibition conveys a brief history of the genre; details spritsail barges built in Ware; looks illustratively at ownership, crews, destinations and cargoes; the Henry Dodd Barge Match history; the anatomy of a barge; a 1:24 scale model of SB Kathleen with her history time-line in words and pictures; barge construction and sail making with the tools of both these skills on display; and the model of SB Lady of the Lea from the London Canal Museum.
Ware Museum is an independent museum run by volunteers and supported by Ware Town Council, East Herts District Council and the Ware Society. Entry is free but a donation of £2.00 is suggested.
Ware Museum, The Priory Lodge, 89 High Street, Ware, Hertfordshire, SG12 9AL.
Opening times:- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday from 11.00am to 4.00pm.
Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 2.00pm to 4.00pm.
Tel: 01920 487848 www.waremuseum.org.uk Registered Charity No. 295169
Here’s the poster for the 2013 Thames Barge Match. The match is special for two reasons. First, it is the 150th anniversary match, the first being held in 1863. Second, it is entitled The Mark Boyle Memorial Thames Sailing Barge Match in memory of Mark who revived the event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day in 1995, had been its driving force ever since, and whose sudden death at the age of 55, just before Christmas, shocked and saddened the sailing barge community.
So, let’s make sure the match has a great turnout of followers and shore watchers to make it even more special. Incidentally, SSBR’s own Vice Chairman, Richard Walsh, has become Acting Secretary of the Match and taken on the task of running the 2013 event.