East Coast Pilot author Dick Holness has been in touch with a question about these two photos taken at Conyer, just off the Swale off the North Kent coast – and I’m hoping that readers can help.
Here’s what he says:
An old contact of mine in the IT industry got in touch recently, she sails a modern boat down on the South Coast, and had found some photos of her uncle, Professor Alan Bishop.
He had a boat, Welcome II based at Conyer in the 1960s. Currently a book is being written about him to which she will be contributing, and one chapter is to reflect his sailing, which was also quite key to his work as he had monitoring equipment in the Thames estuary in preparation for the enginering work on the Thames Barrier.
She would really like to know if the boat still exists somewhere.
Her understanding is that her uncle bought the clinker hull after it had been used during WW2. He then got a cabin, new engine, centre board drop keel, ballast and rigging done at a boatyard.
She thinks the boat would have been in use by her uncle from around 1956 or earlier. It was painted light blue hull with cream cabin and deck, and had a gunter or gaff rig with sails the same red colour as a Thames sailing barge. She also remembers it was very heavy to raise the mainsail.
Kind regards, Dick
Dick suggests the boat looks like a cross between a harbour workboat and a Dauntless, and that the Dauntless yard might have done the conversion all those years ago.
If you have any information, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll pass the message on to Dick and his friend.
This fifie built in 1897 by James Weir of Arbroath is for sale on eBay. I’ve seen and admired her many times at Conyer, but it has been sad to see her decline.
This is what the yard folks have to say on the eBay ad (though obviously Intheboatshed can’t vouch for every word!):
‘This is the last privately owned fifie. The vessel is currently in a very poor shape moored/sunk at our yard at Conyer. The boat has been owned by couple who did not have the resources to maintain her.
‘She has had holes drilled in the bottom of the boat to stop her bursting her planks each time she fills up with water.
‘The boat needs a new owner with a good understanding of the vessel and her issues.
‘The owners are allowing us to work on their behalf and would like to boat to be passed on. They are happy to give the boat away to someone capable of rescuing her.
‘It is registered with the National Historic Ships Register and a new owner may be able to apply for a grant to help with the cranage or refloating
‘The boat will be in this position until the new year, if a new owner has not come forward by this time the boat will be dismantled and destroyed.
‘If you are aware of anybody keen on rescuing a piece of Scottish history please get in contact.
‘The new owner would be responsible for mooring fees and removal of the vessel.’
This may not look like much to most folks – but it shows the brickie barge Westmoreland returning to Lower Halstow a few days ago.
The next step in bringing her back to life is to put in a bid for a Heritage Lottery grant – but in the meantime the trust looking after her could do with some donations to help pay for towing her to her new berth, and the insurance the job required.
Built in 1900 in Conyer (just a few creeks away off the Swale), the sailing barge worked from Lower Halstow for 60 years, taking bricks up to London. She’s also Kent’s last brickie barge – generally small barges these were built specifically for the job.
The aim of the Westmoreland Trust Community Interest Company is to restore the barge and to use her to tell the story of the brickfields and barges that carried the bricks used to build London.
Read more about the SB Westmoreland here and here.