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!
We’ve already posted about the Film Premiere on Saturday 7th March at Maldon Town Hall. What film? The premiere of Simon North’s film of the Restoration of Centaur. Scroll down the page to see the poster for the performance giving all details of the Premiere which is in aid of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust.
Now Simon has produced three trailers for the film show, and, having seen them, each of them is a beautiful piece of art in its own right. Here are the three trailers, the first introducing the film:
the second when the Lottery grant was awarded:
and the third showing Tim Goldsack, the Master Shipwright, at work with tar and horse manure:
Now go along to Maldon Town Hall on 7th March and see the whole thing – Enjoy!
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.
Thames Sailing Barge Trust has been successful in obtaining funding of £100,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for sb Centaur to have a new outer bottom. The work will be done at Oare led by Tim Goldsack, and we are pleased to learn that it is intended to involve apprentice shipwrights once again.
Here’s the link to a video from Shipping TV telling the story.
(Photo courtesy of Thames Sailing Barge Trust)
UPDATE – There’s a nice report about this in the Chelmsford Weekly News, including a photograph of the Trust’s President, Chairman and Vice Chairman with local dignitaries.
Here’s the link to the report.
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.
Via Peter Ferguson we have learnt of yet another loss to the barging community. Peter has passed on the sad news that long-time member of SSBR, Mike Stammers, has died from cancer.
Mike had a great love of and interest in Thames barges. He and Peter had been close friends since their twenties, and shared many a week’s sailing together on Pudge and Centaur. His maritime interests were both professional, as Keeper of Merseyside Maritime Museum, and, in retirement, bringing his vast knowledge of vessels to publishing a number of works.