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!
News today that sb Decima is up for sale. The Apollo Duck website has an advertisement from MJLewis Boatsales of Maldon offering the 1899-built Thames sailing barge for sale at £160,000.
Decima was built by FG Fay & Co of Southampton, being one of twenty identical steel barges built by the company for EJ Goldsmith’s of Grays, who traded her until the late 1940s. The 67 ton, 85 foot barge’s history includes ownership by Rayfields of Gravesend, and then Greenhithe Lighterage as a motor barge.
She was sold out of trade to Dennis Wildish in 1977 and he re-rigged her as a charter barge. In 1999 she was sold to Jeremy Taunton as a houseboat.
Master shipwright and well-known sailing barge restorer Tim Goldsack, her present owner, bought Decima in 2003 and started a major restoration. She was gutted and a substantial number of the hull and deck plates were replaced. She was given a new set of rigging and good second-hand sails. A new Gardner 6LXB engine was fitted. Decima has three cabins, with six berths, and central heating was installed when her owner lived aboard her for two years.
In July 2004 Decima set her sails for the first time in over 15 years, and has since been seen regularly around the East coast. She has recently been based at Heybridge Basin, and in 2010 Wilkin and Son Ltd of Tiptree, Essex, (the famous makers of jams, marmalades, and conserves), became her sponsors. Consequently the Tiptree logo has been displayed in her topsail.
According to the advertisement Decima is now at Faversham. Here’s the link to the advertisement on the Apollo Duck website.
Thanks to the Decima website for the following interesting titbits from her history:-
“Things have not always run smoothly for Decima. She has had many mishaps in her long history. Most notably in 1938, during a severe gale, her crew abandoned her off Great Yarmouth, and she sailed herself across the North Sea to Holland! She was relatively unscathed, and was returned to England where she was repaired and returned to work. On November 17th 1940 she was swamped and sank whilst at anchor off Southend pier with a deck cargo of timber. She was re-floated, refitted, and once again was put back to work!”