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!
Just a reminder that the Society for Sailing Barge Research Annual General
Meeting is this Saturday, 9th May, at 3.00pm, at The Three Daws, West Street, Gravesend.
Elizabeth Wood will be in the chair but, having completed her three year term of office will be handing over to a new Chairman. Who will it be?
We shall also be announcing this year’s winners of the Society’s three trophies. So who will be receiving the Colindell Trophy, the Half Model, and the Deadeye?
We look forward to seeing members and friends.
We were very sorry indeed to learn of the death of SSBR Committee Member, David Wood.
As well as being a long-term member of the Committee himself, David has been an enormous help to his wife, Elizabeth, in her office as our Chairman.
David has written a number of publications over the years, and members will recall that within the last few months they have received a copy of “Still in the Samphire”, the 50th anniversary history of the Society, and of “The Prowess of Charlie Fielder”. Both of these were written by David Wood, and he has put some considerable years of work into them. Elizabeth tells us that he was still researching and writing other material.
David died very suddenly on Friday 30th January 2015. He was alone at their Twickenham house while Elizabeth was at her family’s home in Sussex. She was talking to David on the telephone, when suddenly she heard a noise, he stopped speaking and she could not raise him. She called a neighbour who went to the house, and discovered that David had suffered a heart attack which he did not survive. It has taken a long time for the post mortem to be held, and the death certificate has only just been issued.
The funeral is to be held next week. In accordance with David’s own wishes it is to be a small low-key occasion for close friends and family. Donations in David’s memory if desired may be sent to the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, c/o Roger Newlyn. Please contact us by e-mail if you need Roger’s address. SocSailingBargeResearch@gmail.com
On behalf of the Committee and members of the Society, we send our most sincere sympathy to Elizabeth and her family.
After the Jubilee Pageant Des Kaliszewki dropped Cygnet’s mast, and set her bridge sail and mizzen to sail through the bridges before the trip boats got under way. Under Westminster and on, now under motor he had the aim of passing under Richmond Half Lock to anchor and spend the day there. In fact he dropped anchor just below Eel Pie Island, and called at the Barmy Arms to meet SSBR Chairman, Elizabeth Wood. Next morning Cygnet tied at Twickenham Yacht Club to take on water (and dispose of their elsan) before returning down river back to Snape.
(Words and photograph by David Wood)