We were delighted that Hugh Perks was able to come along to the SSBR Annual General Meeting this year, and even more delighted that he managed to get to the Medway Barge Match on 3rd June 2017.
As usual, he has taken some excellent pictures and was kind enough to let me have three of them for The Barge Blog. So here are Mirosa; Niagara and Edith May; and Edme.
Annie Meadows, clever girl, has reminded us of this lovely programme, by the old Anglia Television, called Bygones. This edition features Hydrogen first, but then goes on to Edith May with some excellent footage from earlier days. Here’s the link.
A round-up from some of the barges as the season draws nearer to its close.
Peter Phillips records that Thalatta’s last day sail of the season was on 3rd September. She then went to St Osyth, and then on to Heybridge. He says: “thanks for everything Cyril and Roger, and let’s look forward to next season.” Meanwhile he tells us: “Thalatta has a new book, Thalatta, Spirit of the Sea; I suppose you could call it her biography.”
Thistle had a Public Open Day in Ipswich Dock last Sunday. As well as free entry, she was offering a competition for two free places on a barge cruise.
Edith May was wondering how it could be that the last week of her summer season was approaching. She reports that the Tea Room will be re-opening on Thursday 25th October, 1030 to 1600.
Cambria finished her extended charter to the Sea Change Sailing Trust, and is now doing several short charters for young carers, who are sponsored by the Rotary Club, which pays for replacement carers while the young people are away. The professional crew members at the moment are Ian Ruffles (Skipper) and Denis Johnson and Ryan Dale (Mates). On Sunday Ryan posted this photograph, which shows Cambria’s GPS recording a speed of 14.2 knots. He goes on to say they “Maxed out at 15.9 knots not long after. I know the tide accounted for a lot of it, but still find this incredible!!”
Kitty has been working really hard. Annie Meadows tells us: “Lovely two hour sail on the Blackwater this evening; back as the sun was about to set – pair of egrets by our mooring and four cormorants diving for their dinner.” The next day she says: “Third day out in a row; we had Topsail, Mainsail, Staysail and Mizzen set and engine off for over an hour. The barge was full to capacity with lots of smiling faces.” And there was more the next day: “Out on the Blackwater with a full barge again today. Sunshine for most of the day, with Lyndon March doing a great job as Acting Skipper.” And Annie’s latest report is: “Another lovely but slightly chilly sail on sb Kitty, this time with JP Lodge as Acting Skipper, and Kevin Burtonshaw and Lyndon March wandering about, dazed and unsure what to do once control had been handed over to someone else. It was funny to watch.” Not to be outdone, JP Lodge joins in: “I had a good day yesterday on sb Kitty. It was my turn as Acting Skipper! Learnt a lot, didn’t break anything. I still reckon my approach alongside Hydrogen was smooth. Thanks to Kevin, Lyndon and Annie. Refreshments afterwards in the Queens, then later that evening to Curry Nights for a really good meal.”
Martin Phillips has today posted a comment to our piece about the film of “The Quay”. It appears of course on that post, but it is necessary to click on “Comment” in order to see it. It deserves more prominence, so we repeat it in full here:-
“It is very sad that the landowner’s wish to develop the site has destroyed what had been developed at Standard Quay; however I feel that the coverage of this to date rather ignores reality of what has been achieved by the Thames barge and trad boat community in East Anglia.
It is depressing to read such statements as: ‘A centre for ancient maritime crafts, the quay is a haven for the few dozen surviving Thames sailing barges. But Standard Quay’s latest owner, a property developer, plans to turn it into a tourist trap with shops, restaurants and luxury houses….’
This publicity would give the impression that this was the last home of sailing barges and that the preservation skills of barge shipwrights and the home of barges has been destroyed for good by a property developer’s greed.
However this is simply a false picture. What had been achieved at Faversham in the comparatively recent past particularly around the rebuild of Cambria was great, and of course Tim Goldsack is still operating his business (albeit not at Standard Quay). The Iron Wharf is still thriving as are the regular Faversham barges Mirosa and Repertor and Lady of the Lea.
Why can’t someone make an optimistic film publicising the achievements of the TSBT (formerly the barge club) in keeping its barges sailing over the last 64 years, rebuilding two (Pudge and Centaur) WITHOUT Lottery support and taking thousands of people sailing? The Trust’s third hand/mate training has produced about 8 of the current Sailing Barge masters (including myself). It has done so much good to preserve barges and helped to bring people into the barge scene who go on to work on barges. Let’s celebrate this success please!
Maldon and the Blackwater are home to a very active fleet of barges and two barge yard (Cooks and Blackwater Marina) with blocks and 2 drydocks operating. Then there is Andy Harman’s yard at St Osyth not to forget the Pioneer rebuild and all the smacks. TS rigging has a thriving trad boat business (rerigging the Cutty Sark for example) and there is a host of evidence that the area is a hot bed of traditional skills and specialist shipwrights, riggers, metal workers, a blacksmith and much much more all based around the rich maritime heritage of the area. Topsail Charters have built a successful business over a quarter of a century preserving a fleet of active barges carrying thousands of passengers a year and employing a group of skippers and mates.
Then there are the barges themselves and the unseen efforts and huge financial commitments of private owners that has produced the wonderful sight of beautifully restored and maintained barges like Marjorie, Adieu, Edith May, Lady Daphne, Repertor, Wyvenhoe, Lady of the Lea and Phoenician and many others . Private owners are rebuilding barges like Melissa and Niagara, Ethel Maud etc, with more on the way and two new builds completed and more on the way.
I deplore the problems that have ruined all Brian Pain’s efforts to achieve a laudable goal but the picture is far from gloomy! Traditional skills are actually thriving in East Anglia and the fleet of barges and smacks is an often unpublicised gem. Where else in the UK has a fleet of traditional craft in their home waters been preserved and transformed from cargo carriers and fishing boats to working and pleasure vessels?
Yes what happened at Standard Quay was bad for one person’s dream and destroyed his hopes for the future. I dare say it was undoubtedly bad for Faversham – but that is quite a big issue and no doubt many will debate what is best for the town and the use of its creek for many years to come.
Let’s celebrate what we are really achieving guys! Please can someone make a film to show what has been achieved and what a wonderful tradition we have kept going. Tell the public and above all encourage them to join in and come sailing on our wonderful craft.”
Martin has set out a view with which I certainly agree. It does often seem that Maldon and the other places on the Essex and Suffolk coast are somewhat ignored by some leaders of the barge world. As he says, there is a thriving barge community in East Anglia, with barge yards, wonderful craftsmen, and a fleet of magnificent vessels who call it their home.
It’s Ipswich Maritime Festival this weekend, so on Saturday and Sunday, 18 and 19 August, there will be a huge programme of activities at Ipswich Waterfront, from 10.00am to 6.00pm each day.
Here’s the link to the programme for the day.
There’s lots for children to do, and to interest adults. The programme lists some of the vessels which will be present, and mentions Lady of Avenel, MT Kent, Thalatta, Centaur, and “Thames Barges”. Er, what are Thalatta and Centaur then?
There will be Cream Tea Cruises on Victor at 2.00pm on Saturday and Sunday. We also happen to know that Kitty will be there, at Custom House Quay, and will be offering three hour barge trips.
Meanwhile, further south, Edith May is having Open Days this weekend, and will be open in Halstow Dock on Saturday and Sunday, from 11.00am to 4.00pm. Cream teas and cake are promised in the Edith May Tearoom.
Sunshine and high temperatures are forecast so it should be a good weekend on the water.
Of course the despicable people who stole from a barge wouldn’t know that one of the laptops contained such precious material, but any theft is distressing for the victims. We give below the message that Ed Gransden has posted, and urge everyone to spread the word. We are truly sorry to learn of the loss of these Edith May restoration photos.
Ed Gransden says –
“HELP! On Wednesday 25th July, at 1930hrs, two laptops (Sony Vaio and HP) were stolen from sailing barge Edith May at Lower Halstow. Reward offered for safe return of the HP laptop, which contains irreplaceable photos of the Edith May’s restoration and relaunch. Please call 07814 950442 with any information. Please repost to spread the message!”
The summer barge matches are under way and Ed Gransden tells me a bit about the Passage Match, as viewed from Edith May.
Edith May was officially first over the start line as Lady of the Lea and Ardwina went over seconds before the gun. Edith May took the lead down the Thames and held it, going well throughout the day to be first barge into Harwich Harbour. Even though she had to do a dog leg as she passed a buoy the wrong side, she still managed to win by a comfortable margin. Repertor and Ardwina followed with Lady of the Lea bringing up the rear.
(Words and picture by Dave Brooks)