Thames sailing barge "Thistle" rounding the mark to come third in Bowsprit Class, 2006 Medway Barge Sailing Match. 83 reg.tons, built 1895 at Port Glasgow - the only Thames barge to be built in Scotland!
Lovely series of pictures Steve, Another of the nice things of basing my boat in Woodbridge is that I get to see these grand boats frequently, my father always used to tell me they were manned by a man and a boy and no engines in those days!
Yes Steve,a Skipper and Mate only and it was hard work ..
I was Mate in barges owned by Goldsmith of Grays on the Thames.I started at age 15 in 1936 and served in 6 barges up to June 1941 .I then went Deep Sea in Merchant Navy until 1956..
During my time in barges I experienced shipwreck three times and each time we were rescued by RNLI lifeboats from shore stations and each incident was due to atrocious weather conditions.. AILSA off Gt Yarmouth - DECIMA off SOUTHEND and ESTEREL off CLACTON...
All barges were later salvaged and returned to service..
We were paid by the freight so the quicker the trip, the quicker we were paid.
Young Skippers would push and punish their barge in terrible sea conditions on the coast but the elderly crews preferred to stay in the rivers..
Very often we were windbound in Harwich Harbour from 3 or 4 days to 6 weeks...attempting to go North to Yarmouth,Kings Lynn or the Humber..
One of my barges was CELTIC of 300 tons and she carried six sails..20 months in her and I went from a boy to a man ..Skipper and Mate only !!!