SSBR was at Fambridge River Festival yesterday in its fourth year. But no sunlit pictures this time. We were all drowned SSBR rats, and the picture shows two of us together with hastily boxed up books, sopping wet table covers, wet posters shredded by the high winds, and plastic covers over the tables.
From opening at 10.00 to about 11.45 everything was lovely: fine weather and lots of people; Pudge and Ironsides on the pontoon, together with Pioneer, Marigold, the tug Barking and the Burnham on Crouch RNLI inshore boat; a classic car show; a climbing wall; music from the stage so old that even I knew the lyrics; Kevin Finch with some of his shipwright tools, “I just went round the workshop and picked up some things I thought would be of interest”; lots of food and drink stalls from Posh Coffee to Pimms, from lamb shank to hot dogs, from crêpes to ice cream – and no, I didn’t have an ice cream, too wet and cold; yes, I did have a crêpe. We sold a very respectable number of books including Jimmy Lawrence’s new one, “London Light, a Sailorman’s Story,” and the last “Sailing Barge Compendium”. We took some membership subscriptions and found some potential new members.
But by 12 noon the rain was steady. Can’t sell books and magazines in the rain. We covered the table tops with plastic sheets. The high wind seemed determined to rip the SSBR banner away from its pole – the usual two cords tying it to the tent frame had to be increased to four and still the wind pulled the metal pole out of shape. We tied our splendid new gazebo by its legs to the tables, themselves so heavy with books they were unlikely to move. We stuck it out for well over an hour while the wind increased and the rain got heavier. Surprisingly the visitors stayed for quite a long time, all getting drenched, but eventually they drifted away and the place became deserted
We packed up and took all the stuff back to the Archive. There are a lot of things that now need mud removed and drying out – not least me. Clothes went straight into the washing machine. Still, at least we were all home much earlier than expected.
Many thanks to Don Wright, Graham Dent and Tim Mileson who all responded to the plea for help, and to Dilys Renouf who also came along.
I’m beginning to think that someone on The Times’s editorial or photographic staff is a Thames barge fan.
Again today there is a superb barge picture, this time by John Lewington of barges in “a Thames barge race in Southend”. Difficult to work out from the description whether it is a Thames Match at Southend, or a Southend Match.
The photograph has been entered for the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society’s photography competition, now in its 179th year.
There were a few posts earlier in the year about the temporary disappearance of the SSBR website.
This is just to remind everyone that the SSBR site is now up and running again and still has all its mine of barge information. Many thanks to John White for persevering with it.
The website’s address is:- https://www.sailingbargeresearch.org.uk/
I often think that The Times doesn’t know this part of the world exists. But today they have done us proud. There’s a picture of The Maldon Mud Race last Sunday and a picture of sb Marjorie in the Medway Match last Saturday. Rob Powell’s picture I think, (please confirm). I like the caption too. It says “…. the Medway Barge Match, the first of seven races this summer which celebrate the historic role of barges.”
We’re having an Open Day at the SSBR Archive at North Fambridge Yacht Haven on Saturday 2nd June. Great opportunity to have a lovely day out by the River Crouch and to see our collection – our treasure house – of 30,000 items of barge memorabilia. There will be books and paintings on sale too. Do come along and see us.
Some of us have been following with great interest sb Decima’s risky but brave journey up to the lock at Dartford Creek, where she has been during the winter.
This weekend there’s a chance to see Decima and to have a great day out at the Dartford Nautical Festival. It’s on Sunday 27th May starting at 1pm. Here are the details.
Another award for Topsail Charters Ltd who, last Friday, won “Best Business Contribution to the Community” at the first Pride of Maldon awards.
The company commented: “For the past 31 years we have been a huge part of Maldon’s waterfront and riverside heritage. As a Maldon family-owned business we take special pride in sourcing as much as we can from our local surroundings…..from our food suppliers in Maldon’s High Street, to our 34 local staff, our work with Plume School vocational students, and our new apprenticeships schemes.
“A huge thank you to everyone who continues to support us and for helping us win this award!”
Congratulations to all at Topsail Charters on this well-deserved award.
2017 was a quiet year for Cambria, which caused some level of worry.
2018 is proving much better. Early in April the Sea-Change Sailing Trust started a charter of the barge for several months to be used for their work with young people and for other more unusual sails.
Top of the pile of such voyages must be the coming “Trading Mates on Cambria” weekend which will see Dick Durham and Phil Latham return to the barge where they spent long days as Mates in the last of the trading years in the 1960s.
And you can be part of that great experience by joining the barge for the weekend. See below for full details and how to book.