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.
Not to be missed is the event coming soon organized by the Blackwater Sailing Barge Match Association.
Called the Sailing Barge Show, it features a new talk by Jim Lawrence, one of the last surviving sailing barge skippers from the days of trade. There will also be a short film of the 2015 match, films from the Association’s archive and a model boat exhibition.
What promises to be a very interesting evening will take place on Saturday 6th February, at 7.30 pm, at Maldon Town Hall. Tickets are £3 each, and there will be refreshments and a quiz in the interval.
Here’s a link to the poster about the event. BSBMA Poster
We have more sad news to record, with the death suddenly on Boxing Day 2012 of Frank Thompson, after a very brief illness.
Frank, who lived in Layer-de-la-Haye, was 92. He was a member of SSBR and often contributed to Topsail and Mainsheet. He and his wife, Kathleen, sailed on many barges in the days of trade, particularly with the late Stan and Chick Yeates on board sb Glenway.
Both Richard Walsh and John White heard from Frank just before Christmas when his notes were full of news. Indeed, he gave John a few additions for The Sailing Barge Compendium.
The funeral will be on Monday 14 January, at 12.30pm, at Colchester Crematorium. All are welcome at the service, where Jimmy Lawrence will be performing the shanty Happisburgh Light, and afterwards at the Donkey & Buskins pub, Layer-de-la-Haye.