Sailing barge Edith May wins National Historic Ships national flagship title for 2012

Thames sailing barge Edith May has been named National Historic Ships national flagship for 2012.

In the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant, it seems particularly appropriate that the winner for 2012 is a vessel specifically designed to trade on the Thames.

Edith May is an 86ft barge built by J&H Cann of Harwich in 1906 for the coastal trade carrying wheat and grain products.

She also had a successful racing career before falling into sad disrepair in the 1990s before being purchased and then restored by her current owners.

The flagship of the year title is awarded to the owners of the vessel with the most impressive seasonal programme of public events in the forthcoming year, and is designed to promote engagement and appreciation of historic vessels in the UK’s heritage.

Each year’s flagship vessel receives a traditional swallow-tailed broad pennant to fly from the masthead wherever she goes to mark her flagship status, and a grant of £1000 towards the cost of keeping her in operational condition and opening for public viewing.

The judges decided that the submission from the Edith May was outstanding. Her extensive public programme over the coming season includes festivals, barge matches, public cruises and taking part in the Queen’s pageant.

Edith May is registered on the National Register of Historic Vessels held by National Historic Ships. She can be seen at her berth in Lower Halstow in Kent during the winter, and is also available for sailing charter trips on the Medway and as a static venue for events.

PS – on the subject of the National Historic Ships, there’s still lots of time to enter the annual photographic competition. Details are here and here.

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Noble Life – an introduction to a film

An introduction to the film Noble Life. I can’t say I like the music (a barge film works best with the kinds of songs old bargemen sang and knew, in my view) but hey it’s always great to have such an interesting record of the barges on line!

There’s more on artbargestudio’s channel.

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.