The sad sight of decaying sailing barges in the mud at Hoo

SBs Alan, Remercie, Spinaway C, Ethel Ada (Ipswich), Adriatic, Felix, Scotsman & Dannebrog at Hoo. 2013 2

These shots of sailing barges sinking into the mud at Hoo seem particularly poignant.

The creeks of North Kent are littered with the bones of sailing barges, but where most are interesting reminders of the distant past and add interest to the mud, these barges are an especially sad sight, not least because just a few short years ago many of them were either afloat or were in restoration and appeared to have good prospects.

The photos were taken by Mick Nolan of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, which maintains and charters two sailing barges, SB Centaur and SB Pudge. Thanks Mick!

The TSBT has a Facebook page here. I have pals who are holidaying aboard one of their boats this very week.

Googleing reveals a little information about the barges in the photos.

The Mersea Museum list reveals that SB Alan was built in London in 1900 and was operated by the London and Rochester Trading Co of Rochester.

The site records that SB Remercie seems to have been built at Harwich by McLearon 1908 for Horlocks, became a motor barge in 1962 before being re-rigged as a barge yacht in 1972. She arrived at Hoo as rebuilding project 1994.

SB Spinaway C was at one time one of the last Ipswich barges still working, along with SB Cambria. She was built at Ipswich in 1899 by Orvis and became a yacht in 1967.

There’s a reference to her winning the 1963 Thames barge match in the hands of skipper Moggles Morgan here, and there’s a link including photos here.

I haven’t found much online about SB Ethel Ada (Ipswich) except that she’s a different boat to the London SB Ethel Ada. I don’t know anything at all about SB Adriatic, but SB Felix was built by Cann in 1893. Like many she became a motor barge and was sold out of trade in 1972 and became a yacht barge. Read about her here.

SB Scotsman was built at Sittingbourne by Wills & Packham 1899, became a motor barge in 1953 and was later a houseboat at Faversham Creek – where I remember seeing her. There’s more information here. reveals that SB Dannebrog was built at Harwich in 1901 by McLearon. She was de-rigged in 1955, then re-rigged  for a period in the mid 1970s before spending some time in St. Katharine’s Dock – there’s a striking photo of her looking scruffy but afloat in the dock on the website. She was sold in 1992 for restoration at Hoo. 

By the way – if you’re interested in caring for one of these splendid vessels and in the fortunate position of being able to do so, there is a short list of boats for sale here.

SBs Remercie & Spinaway C. Hoo 2013 SBs Ethel Ada (Ipswich), Adriatic, Felix & Scotsman at Hoo. 2013 SBs Alan, Remercie, Spinaway C, Ethel Ada (Ipswich), Adriatic, Felix, Scotsman & Dannebrog at Hoo. 2013 2
SBs Alan, Remercie & Spinaway C. Hoo 2013 SBs Adriatic, Felix & Scotsman at Hoo. 2013 2 SB Esther 5. Hoo 2013 SB Esther 3. Hoo 2013

2 thoughts on “The sad sight of decaying sailing barges in the mud at Hoo”

  1. Sad… I lived on the S B Alan in the early 90’s – rented it from the owner who was a diver… very sad to think of it rotting on the mud..

  2. Back in the mid 70’s when I about 12 or 13, I spent spent some time in my summer holidays with my mum helping to strip and paint the Hull of a Dutch barge out of St Katherine’s but also spent some time helping to paint the Thames barge “Felix” and I was given the job of painting the name plates and the decorations around the sides.
    It’s really depressing to see her rotting away on the mud, I just wish I had the money.

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