Category Archives: Thames Estuary and the East Coast

The Brightlingsea Tiles: an unusual and touching memorial to lost sailors

The History House website has the story about the remarkable Brightlingsea Tiles. (Images reused under the Creative Commons Licence.)

Malcolm Woods has alerted me to these memorials to local fishermen and sailors who died at sea in All Saints Church, Brightlingsea. They include 213 memorial tiles placed in frieze that runs around the nave.

The local custom of placing the tiles on the church wall was begun by All Saints vicar Reverend Pertwee following a big storm in March 1883 in  which 200 mariners from the counties bordering North Sea were lost, including 19 from Brightingsea.

Pertwee decided that a memorial tile should be made for each of his lost parishioners going back to 1872, when he first became vicar at the church. The first tile is dedicated to William Day and his son, David, who were drowned off Hartlepool.

The tiles were continued in later decades, and later tile memorials are to sailors killed in various storms, the loss of the Titanic and the World Wars.

I’ll make a point of taking a look when I get the chance – last time I was in the area the church was locked, as usual in a town.

Thanks Malcolm!

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Cambria delivers her final cargo, as told by mate Dick Durham

Dick Durham was Bob Robert’s 18-year old mate when the Cambria delivered its last cargo to the port at Felixstowe. Read his piece about it on the Classic Boat website.

‘Felixstowe was the first container port in the country when it opened half a century ago and yet, as the great cranes were being built, I was aboard the vessel delivering the port’s last freight under sail.

‘Standing on the mast-deck of the 91ft Thames Sailing Barge Cambria, as the narrow dock entrance neared, was the 18-year-old mate, myself, anxiously awaiting the order to stow sail. At the wheel was the 63-year-old skipper, Bob Roberts, carefully judging the ebb which was running across the mouth of the dock entrance.

‘Cambria was already long out of her time: other sailing barges had been converted to power, houseboats or yachts, while the majority had been hulked in lonely creeks. So a crowd of bystanders had gathered to watch us sail in. This did not help my growing nervous tension. There was even a young mother who turned her pram to face the water so baby could watch, too. “Come on, Bob,” I said under my breath, “give the order.” Read more…