DVD and article about Humber sloop Spider T’s trips to Arbroath and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant


Early morning on the Hartlepool to Blyth leg – photo: Chris Horan

Mal Nicholson and the Spider T folks are marketing a DVD documenting the Humber sloop’s remarkable month-long round trip to Arbroath and back in 2011.

The aim of the trip was to attend Arbroath Sea Fest, which was organised to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the building of the wonderful Bell Rock Lighthouse by Robert Stevenson.

Priced at £10 and available from the Spider T website, the 35-minute DVD is made up of a sequence of Chris Horan’s excellent photographs, and is remarkably watchable.

Horan’s camera-work is beautifully composed, and his lens has a way of capturing a place’s atmosphere and the characters of his human subjects that eludes most of us. And, of course, it was clearly a great, unforgettable, trip.

The Spider T crew promote the charity the The Sailors Children’s Society.

Also, from crew member Dave Everatt comes this splendid article describing the Spider T’s 2012 trip to the Thames to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant marking 60 years of Elizabeth II’s reign. Everatt is and Humber Keel and Sloop Presevation Society’s magazine Slabline.

I particularly like this extract:

‘At 14.35 hrs, twenty minutes later than expected, we were called to our mustering position ready to join the main event. Progress was rather start/stop in
the earlier stages but, once the pace settled, it went very smoothly.

‘The crowds of people on the riverbanks, bridges, moored vessels, balconies and in buildings all the way along the route made for an electric atmosphere, cheering loudly as vessels horns and whistles blew. A group of girls on an adjacent riverbank shouted “Spider, Spider, Spider … ” and danced a spidery dance as we came by, a magical moment.

‘As we headed past Westminster the rain began to fall getting faster by the minute until, by the time we had passed under Tower Bridge, Her Majesty the Queen waved and Prince Phillip doffed his hat, it was absolutely pouring down and we were soaked to the skin.’

Red Sails DVD is a cracker… get it for Christmas!

Stills from the film Red Sails about the working boats we call sailing barges Stills from the film Red Sails about the working boats we call sailing barges

Stills from the film Red Sails about the working boats we call sailing barges

Stills from the film Red Sails

Last night Julie and I finally grabbed some time to watch Mike Maloney’s splendid Red Sails film on DVD. I can report that it’s a cracker.

The new footage is wonderful, but the old footage Mike found is really something, not least because it reveals so much. I thought I’d read enough to know a little about these old working boats but had no idea, for example, that when they were loaded with bricks they were brought on board by hand, in small numbers by each man.

Again, I hadn’t realised that Conyer and Halstow had been such busy centres for the brick trade, and I’d forgotten if I ever knew it that the ‘rough stuff’ hearth ash brought down the estuary by the barges was mixed with clay to make the bricks. Presumably that’s what makes the dark markings that make the characteristic London brick so handsome.

The footage also of the old barge skippers Jimmy Lawrence and Don Satin adds to the value of the film – we’re so lucky it has been made at a time when there are still old barge skippers around to be interviewed. Needless to say, they’re both excellent value in this film – having seem Jimmy Lawrence telling his stories before I knew what to expect, but Don Satin’s a great find, for me at least.

I’d like also to thank Mike Maloney for taking the trouble to include some good, useful stuff about the last of the barge skippers Bob Roberts, including his role as a singer of old and traditional songs. This aspect of Roberts seems often to be neglected by enthusiasts for these old boats, and I think it’s a great shame. I remember him singing years ago, and it will probably surprise some readers that I sometimes take singer friends over to Faversham to show them the Cambria, as a kind of pilgrimage.

Red Sails, the new film about the story of the sailing barges, is available on DVD from the Countrywide Productions website.

Mike Maloney’s Red Sails sailing barge film now available

Red Sails A4 free screening poster

Red Sails, the new film about the story of the sailing barges made by Mike Maloney, is now available on DVD from the Countrywide Productions website following a public screening last week.

I’m looking forward to receiving my copy and will write about it shortly – but I’m expecting a lot, given the welcome it has received:

  • Many congratulations on the magnificent film. I think the applause at the end expressed everybody’s sentiment – William Collard – project manager, Cambria Trust
  • Bob and I – and many other people I talked to afterwards – thoroughly enjoyed Red Sails. It was well researched, beautifully filmed and put together. The film is a valuable contribution to the understanding of the Thames Barge – Lena Reekie
  • I was very impressed by the film and treatment of the subject. It ‘reached’ me and I thought that the treatment of Jimmy Lawrence and Bill Collard was very effective in binding the film sections together – Phil Latham, ex-mate of the Cambria