Tag Archives: thames barge

Faversham Creek Trust launched to revitalise historic waterway

Faversham Creek Trust leaflet

The Faversham Creek Trust launched yesterday will ‘work with both local and national government to regenerate shipbuilding and marine activity, creating a vibrant, revitalised working creek and skilled jobs for local people’.

That sounds like good news to me – if the council and landowners allow the new trust to achieve its aims.

A press release issued by the trust puts it this way:

‘Dedicated to protecting and promoting Faversham’s centuries-old maritime industry, the trust intends to reverse the recent decline in the creek’s fortunes for the benefit of the whole town, which is an ancient Cinque Port 10 miles west of Canterbury.

‘The trust has invited creekside land owners and operators to participate, and has produced a colour brochure detailing the creek’s history and its importance to the town. It sets out plans for a successful, sustainable future for this tidal link to the Thames Estuary, guaranteeing real employment and training opportunities.

‘The trust is asking the local authority, Swale Borough Council, to commit to protecting Faversham’s heritage and has plans in place to raise funds once the future of significant creekside sites can be secured.

‘The launch of the Trust comes at a time of widespread public concern for the creek’s future: in particular, the immediate threat to traditional boatbuilding jobs at Standard Quay. Around 1,000 people have already signed an e-petition to the council, calling for the quay, a national centre for sailing barge repair on the site of the famous Goldfinch shipyard, to be protected from inappropriate development.

‘Faversham is practically the last stronghold of the world-renowned Thames sailing barge. Safeguarding one of the town’s last surviving pockets of creekside maritime industry is an urgent priority for the new trust. But its scope and ambition extend much further.’

Trust spokesman David Gwyn Jones said that current proposals to allow the historic listed buildings on Standard Quay to be used for restaurants and shops would deny them to the maritime users and barge repairers on the waterfront.
‘We are not opposed to house building or business development,’ he said, ‘but new housing has already encroached upon much of the creek. Other sites are suitable for development which do not threaten the marine heritage of Faversham and its people’s jobs.

The trust’s plans include include:

  • creating more than 50 new jobs
  • bringing the swing bridge and creek basin back into proper use and resolving the present silting problems
  • new facilities, including slipways, dry docks, a dinghy building school, a blacksmith’s forge, a marine engineering workshop, and a museum
  • creek festivals and sailing events

Faversham’s a great place, but just think what it could be if this new trust gets it’s way!

The Medway by paddlesteamer

VIC 56 Medway

VIC 56, just outside Chatham Dockyard. Click on the images in this post (and most others!) for much larger photos

The weather forecast predicted strong winds and thunderstorms – so I decided against going sailing. But what to do instead? Julie and I decided to take a river trip down the Medway on the wonderful paddlesteamer Kingswear Castle, starting  from Rochester Pier, just by the city’s impressive Norman castle, and these are a selection of photos from the outing.

I hope you’re seated comfortable, for there are lots of shots here – and quite a few questions. If you know the answers, please fill me in using either the Comment button below, or by emailing me at gmatkin@gmail.com.

TID 164 steam tug Medway redundant lightships houseboats medway

TID 164, VIC 56, redundant lightships on the Medway

unusual schooner - who designed and built her? Pretty motorsailer Medway paddlesteamer

The river had a lot to show us that was intriguing, to say the least. What’s the story, we wondered, behind this neat little schooner? Or the pretty and comfortable-looking motorsailer?

Sweet cutter - is she a conversion? Pretty little clinker yacht outside Medway cruising club's premises Elegant wooden yacht, apparently on the brink of going somewhere

There was this beautiful old cutter – is she a conversion? And this pretty little clinker built pocket cruiser. And what about this elegant cruiser apparently on the brink of going somewhere?

Old fashioned yacht A smack moored opposite the dockyard

Two photos of the same old-fashioned yacht, and a smack yacht moored near Upnor Castle

This old fashioned chine-hulled dayboat, much like one I've seen many times moored at Queenborough Roskilde - very pretty, but what is she? Sinking building in the Chatham Dockyard grounds

This old fashioned chine-hulled dayboat, very like one I’ve seen many times moored at Queenborough – I wonder whether they were made by a local builder? I’m sure generations of visitors have been intrigued by this sinking building in the grounds of Chatham Dockyard

Smacks moored and ready for a race Harvest Queen looks like a converted wooden motor fishing vessel

Old smacks stand ready for a race; Harvest Queen looks like a converted wooden motor fishing vessel

Dutch tjalk Small Thames barge Whippet

There was this pocket cruiser – I haven’t figured out to which design she was built, but will be looking her up – and this smart Dutch tjalk, and the small Thames barge Whippet

Hope of Porthleven

Hope of Porthleven, and cormorants guarding their buoys

Paddle steamer tug Mystery yacht

Steam tug John H Amos – I gather there’s hope she will be restored; a mystery yacht I’d like to know more about; one of the forts known as Palmerston’s follies

A squib returns from racing Double ended motor fishing vessel Double-ended motor fishing vessel

A Squib returns from Sunday racing; a motor fishing vessel that looks a lot like Jay Cresswell’s model of a ring-netter

Another double-ended MFV Edith May is still looking very smart following her restoration at Lower Halstow

Another very well looked-after MFV conversion, Thames barge Edith May is also looking great following her restoration

Russian submarine in the Medway conning tower Russian submaring Black Widow on the Medway

The Medway’s Cold War-era Russian sub, however, is very down-at-heel

No vessel to anchor opposite Powder magazine

You can’t moor here; and here’s why

Bella something of Dover

Finally, what’s this craft? I’ve never heard of the Bella-something of Dover, and the Internet seems to be unaware of her also. What is her future to be, I wonder?


The Medway Pilots webpage has a useful history of the River Medway.

Refurbished Thames barge Edith May at sea and sailing well

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Thames sailing barge Edith May

Edward Gransden has kindly been in touch with these photos of the Thames sailing barge named Edith May, which has this month been sailing for the first time in ten years or more. Here’s what he says:

‘Please find attached a couple of photos from our first sail. We are intending to charter with individuals and groups up to 12 throughout the summer, operating from Lower Halstow, Chatham and Queenborough.

‘Having spent the past 10 and a half years restoring her, it was a great thrill to be able to take her out sailing for the first time, with her performance proving very pleasing. The Swale Match in August will be the first chance we get to see if she has retained the pace she was once renowned for!’

Thanks Edward! Any time you have photos and stories to share let me know.

It happens that we were over at Lower Halstow this weekend, and found the Edith May in the dock looking very smart. I took some shots with my camera phone – but I’m damned if I can get them out. It’s a better camera than you might think, but the connections and software make me curse!

Here’s an earlier post featuring the Edith May, and here’s a link to the Edith May website.

The wreck of the George Murray – was she a Thames barge?

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lynher, thames barge, scoter, jan carpenter, cornwall, wreck

lynher, thames barge, scoter, jan carpenter, cornwall, wreck

Jan Carpenter has written in to ask for information about this local wreck. Does anyone have any answers for him please?

‘Hi all, looking for any info about what’s said to be a Thames barge named the George Murray, which is now a wreck lying in Forder Lake just off the River Lynher in Cornwall. However, I’m thinking that it may not be a Thames barge.

‘There have been several hypothesis for this wreck and several different names have suggested, but the locals seem to remember her as the George Murray. However I suspect she wasn’t a Thames barge because I cannot find any trace of a barge called George Murray anywhere! I was hoping your website may jog a few memories or direct me to somewhere I can find lists of vessels I have not yet come across…’

‘Kind regards, Jan

‘PS I have had three 40ft larch logs delivered for the planking of Scoter and a fine selection of oak knees!’

I should explain that Jan is the new owner of the important Maurice Griffiths-designed Scoter, and that his postscript is great news for anyone interested in seeing her afloat once again.

As for the George Murray - from the look of her she certainly could be a Thames barge, and given the thousands that used to work in the Thames, I’d guess there could easily have been some about which there’s little documentary evidence left today. Would the PLA’s archives include some information, I wonder?

For more on Scoter, click here and scroll down!


Hoymen and barges

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Sailing barges Pudge, Wivenhoe and Zylonite

Wivenhoe. I took both photos on the Blackwater,
while sailing with Yahoogroup Openboat
moderator and old friend Johnny Adams

This morning I have some fairly random bits of content about Thames sailing barges to share.

The first is this website about hoys, the occupation of hoymen and Thames sailing barges, written from the perspective of someone descended from a family of 17th century settlers, some of which were hoymen.

Yahoogroup Boatdesign moderator and developer of helpful calculators Peter Vanderwaart pointed out the  striking photograph below showing three barges sailing briskly – they come from a Flickr photostream put up by the National Maritime Museum.

If you happen to be in the market for something marvellous, Kitty, an 1895 Harwich-built sailing barge launched in 1895, is for sale.


Sailing barges off Northfleet


Thames shipwrecks: a race against time – programme 2

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The Dovenby

This summer the Port of London Authority and Wessex Archaeology is clearing a collection of shipwrecks from the Thames Estuary as part of a continuing programme to ensure that the river channel remains open to the world’s largest ships.

TV company Touch Productions has been on hand to capture the events as they happen, and the first of two Thames shipwrecks: a race against time programmes was shown on BBC a few days ago. For those who missed it I thought it would be good to mention some of the material here at intheboatshed.net.

The first programme focused on how the Thames has been fought over for centuries, and some of the ship wrecks that these struggles have left behind. In Programme Two, the TV company turned to the story of the British Empire, trade and shipping, with the Thames packed with thousands of ships and working boats.

The Dovenby

The Dovenby was sunk on her way back to London carrying guano. She was one of thousands of trading ships that made Britain the greatest trading nation the world had ever known. She and her self-made shipowner captain travelled the world, from Peru to Australia, San Francisco to Canada, at a time when 80 per cent of ships launched worldwide were built in British yards.

The programme examined the geophysics of the wreck, examined parts of her lifted from the sea bed, and showed the programme-makers having some fun sailing a Dovenby-like sailing barque.

Unknown Wreck 5051

This is a mystery ship, and one of hundreds that lie beneath the Thames. Various finds suggest that she sank in the mid-Victorian era, but what she was, what she was used for and who manned her remain unknown, although it is established that she had strong ties to the port of Woolwich.

The brick barge

The Thames barge is an icon famous in literature and paintings. For centuries, the barge was the main way of moving material from London to the smaller towns along the river. There were so many of these vessels that it was sometimes possible to walk across the Thames by stepping from barge to barge.

The programme looked at the lives of the people who lived and worked on these ships, the lightermen, the wherrymen and the thousands of others who lived on the river, and also the archaelogy of barges in general.

All that is known about the brick barge is that she sank on her way into London at the turn of the century, but the programme-makers took the opportunity to explore the history of barges on the Thames, for which we have some classic archaeological examples, including the 2nd century Blackfriars barge from the Roman era, a 15th century barge also found on the Thames, and the 17th century Shakespeare barge, which was also carrying bricks on the day she sank – although in her case the bricks were to be used in the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666.

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