I’m very sorry there have been no posts on The Barge Blog since August. September, October and most of November are my busiest months in “real life” and I just don’t have the time to deal with it, although I do manage the occasional post to the Society’s Facebook page.
Members of the Society should now have received the autumn edition of our excellent magazine Mainsheet – and if you aren’t a member and don’t have Mainsheet then you’re really missing something. Mainsheet contained the news that Hugh Perks has stood down from the Committee of SSBR. We are all very sad that he has come to this decision, although we understand his reasons. Hugh is a founder member of the Society, has held office and has brought his vast knowledge of maritime subjects to our deliberations and indeed to our publications.
Thankfully, Hugh has said that he intends to continue to bombard us with letters, notes, corrections, etc, to keep the Committee on its toes. And as good as his word, he has sent us this splendid photograph of sb Tollesbury. He says:- “Tollesbury is now based at Standard Quay, Faversham, as her former berth at Barking is no longer available. She is looking very smart and well painted up. Her mast and topmast need attention, but the sprit is newly painted. The foliage in pots on the decks and hatches surely qualifies her for the “Valdora Trophy”. Old timers may remember Valdora the ‘flowerpot’ barge at Great Yarmouth in the early 1950s.
“Also at Standard Quay is sb Decima, sporting somewhat virulent green paint in places, and sb Repertor is berthed opposite. “
Back at the start of the year JP Lodge was kind enough to post a good number of photos of the barge he was building on the SSBR Facebook page. To have a look at them, this is the link.
Today there is great news from JP, who tells us that he launched the new barge last Thursday, and her maiden voyage was from Bradwell to Tollesbury Saltings on Friday. He also tells us that he has named her “Angela & Peter” in honour and in memory of his parents – a lovely idea.
This, in his own words, is his report of what happened on Thursday and Friday:-
“Sailing Barge Angela & Peter launched successfully on Thursday lunchtime, and maiden voyage Friday morning from Bradwell to Tollesbury.
“I have named her in memory and in honour of my parents; my mother who first introduced me to sailing and particularly sailing barges and my father who showed me that pretty much nothing is impossible.
“The launch was very gentle and controlled – thank you Ian and Dave – and she settled about five inches light and slightly lopsided, (probably because of the weight of the mast and sprit on the starboard deck). We checked the prop thrust and bow thruster then gently motored to the end of B pontoon for the night, and ten minutes on Ballast Shifting later were on an even keel once again.
“Delivery Crew: myself, Steve Hunt, Nic K, Malcolm and Annette.
“Friday morning we motored out of the marina, across the river towards the Nass beacon, then in via South Channel and up the creek, arriving far too early to get into the berth so turned (eventually) and motored back out to the leavings, turned again (easily this time) and back in, this time with enough water to nudge the berth.
“We were met by Flavian who helped bring ropes across and, as the tide flooded, eased in inch by inch and then sideways up to the staging.
“She is now safely installed in her mud berth on the Tollesbury Saltings. If you stand on the hard and look towards the large red lightship, you can’t see the lightship any more because somebody has parked a large grey barge in the way!”
No pictures yet. As JP says, he was a bit busy, but others took some photos and he is hoping to get hold of them. Can’t wait to see them.
Frances Dalesman, who volunteered on sb Memory in 1961, has contacted us asking for information about her.
Our splendid Hon Secretary, John White, has come up trumps again, and has provided the following which has been passed on to Frances direct. We thought, though, that it was a story which others might like to read.
“The Sailing Barge Preservation Society bought Memory in 1958 to keep alive the sight of a working sailing barge, but, following a collision in the Thames, she was taken to a yard at Grays where it was found that there was considerably more rot in her timbers than had been thought. There was little money in the Trust to repair her, so she was laid up at Lower Halstow, finally being sold when there were no further funds forthcoming. In 1968 the owners became Fellowship Afloat and she was used as a base to teach youngsters to sail. She was badly damaged by fire at Tollesbury in 1990. In 1991 Memory was bought by Peter Sands with a view to restoring her, but she was hulked at Tollesbury, O.S. Ref: TL.969.109. 4/11/1999 Register closed, not renewed.”
It was a really cold, wet day, and as we sat aboard Cambria waiting for the Gravesend crowds to come and view her, we were not that surprised that they didn’t flock down on to the new pontoon. Some came, a few brave souls with children wanting to see what it was all about.
And then, about 4 o’clock my day was made really worthwhile.
Cambria had a tear in her topsail that needed to be repaired before she goes back to Faversham at the end of the week, and she was expecting the sailmaker. A dripping wet figure in wellies and waterproofs descended the ladder, and it was Steve Hall the sailmaker from North Sea Sails of Tollesbury. He is one of the very few traditional sailmakers left.
He set to work, expertly measuring the size of the piece of canvas he needed, cutting it, and then sewing it neatly into place with small, regular stitches. This all done on the splendid topsail that he himself had made not that long ago. He made it look easy, but it’s only easy if you know how and have years of experience. And all the while he talked in the wonderful real Essex tones, (not that rubbish you hear on TOWIE and similar programmes, which is actually part London and part transatlantic TV speak).
We had a long discussion as fellow enthusiasts of Jeeves and Wooster, but Steve’s much better at it than I am, and can quote reams of it.
And I felt then as I watched him, and I still feel now, that I have been truly privileged to spend the afternoon in the company of a master craftsman and watch him at his work.
(Tricia) (photo – Dave Brooks)