This is Haughty Belle, a barge built for racing that was either an aristocrat among Thames sailing barges, or a black sheep that should never have been built, depending on how you view these things.
My thanks to Simon North of the excellent Thames Sailing Barges Facebook group for spotting this photo.
The National Maritime Museum has a striking model of her hull, which shows just how far her hull deviated from the usual Thames sailing barge form – but even in the photo above, the yacht-like cutaway stem and stern are clearly unlike other barges.
There’s a drawing showing the form of most Thames sailing barges here (scroll down a bit).
She was built for EJ Goldsmith in wood as a counter-stern racing barge with iron leeboards. She won a race in 1896 and her design was described as ‘astonishing’ – however, I gather she did not compete in further races because the owners of most of the other barges declined to race against her on the grounds that she wasn’t a bargbe but a yacht.
However, Haughty Belle did carry cargoes for a living, and I gather she had to have her beatiful counter cut off after about 10 years in trade, as it was too easily damaged.
She was eventually broken up at Cubitt’s yacht basin at Chiswick.
The Kentish Sail Association’s delicious 2015 calendar featuring photos of sailing barges and smacks is now on sale from various outlets around Faversham, and from the KSA itself.
The beautiful 2015 calendar is on sale at the Fleur de Lis Centre in Preston Street, at Creek Creative in Abbey Street, The Phoenix Tavern, The Three Mariners, Faversham Chandlery and the Shipwights’ Arms. It’s priced at a very reasonable 10 so brighten up these winter days with a copy.
If you cannot get to Faversham, send a cheque for £12.95 (inc of postage), made out to ‘The Kentish Sail Association’, to Julian Mannering, 13 Abbey Street, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7BE, and he will mail a copy.
More shots from the Blackwater, as promised yesterday. I hope you like them! (The previous set are here.)
The splendid elderly gentleman is legendary Brightlingsea barge skipper Jimmy Lawrence who is captured here giving out the prizes. The gent pictured in the white tee-shirt and also holding a plaque and playing a melodeon is Thames Sailing Barge Trust mate Mick Nolan.
The barge we were aboard, Pudge, got awarded the plaque for turning up and not sinking I think, as we didn’t exactly do well in the race. A ‘wag’ pointed out that plaques are what they make from the material that gets cut out from the centre of a toilet seat during manufacturing. Thanks, wag.