Oyster boats and mystery boats

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Fal oyster boats at Mylor. As usual, click on the images
for larger photos

The start of the Tall Ships Race included some interesting-looking mystery boats, as did a brief trip to Mylor and it’s cute little church. But first I thought I should show you some of the last sail-powered fishing boats in the UK. These yacht-like vessels work oyster beds in the Fal and Helford estuaries and are forbidden by a local byelaw from using engines. On their days off I gather those who work them also enjoy some keen racing.

For material relating to Percy Dalton, artist and designer of the St Melorus Fal oyster boat, click here.

Falmouth quay punt (I’d guess), a handsome motor cruiser, and
a mackerel driver (again, that’s my guess) at the start of the Tall
Ships race. That’s Sedov in the background in the last photo,
by the way

I was intrigued by this little dinghy, which must have been either
strip-planked or carvel, or something in between. Does anyone
know the answer from what you can see?

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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Good news from the Cutty Sark restoration

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Cutty Sark counter being lifted

The delicate wrought iron stern of the Cutty Sark was successfully raised
last week to allow work on the ship’s structure below to proceed

The Cutty Sark Conservation people kindly sent me this update a few days ago. As you’ll see, it slightly predates the successful lift of the stern section pictured above.

Like most people who have lived in London, I’ve very fond of the Cutty Sark, and I find the news very heartening!

There will be a major step forward in the Cutty Sark Conservation project tomorrow when the counter, a large part of the stern, located at the back of the ship, is removed for electrolysis and repair.

The removal of this delicate and large wrought iron structure counter was part of the original conservation plan which was in place before the fire broke out last May and its removal marks a major step forward in the project which aims to be completed by Spring 2010.

The Cutty Sark Conservation project is firmly back on track following a generous £10m grant from Heritage Lottery Fund received in January this year.

The conservation project will not only to secure the physical fabric of the ship but also to ensure that she is re-displayed in an appropriate manner for the 21st century. When the project is completed Continue reading “Good news from the Cutty Sark restoration”