Motor Barge SPITHEAD - Ships Nostalgia
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Motor Barge SPITHEAD

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  #1  
Old 6th September 2008, 13:15
paul the barge paul the barge is offline  
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Smile Motor Barge SPITHEAD

Hi to all,
I am new to this site. I hope the readers here may be able to help me, I am looking for any info, photo's and personal memories of the Motor Barge SPITHEAD, built 1915 as an admiralty X-Lighter, 105 foot, approx 160grt.
From my investigations it seems she spent most of her working life as a sand/gravel carrier for the likes of Priors and Horlocks. Later on run by privateers. Of particular interest is approx what year she and all th other X-Lighters were converted for commercial use.
It seems Spithead had a very varied career, I would love to be able to document it to some degree. Any info greatly appreciated.
Thanks and kind regards, Paul.
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  #2  
Old 6th September 2008, 13:40
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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I joined the Spithead in the summer of 1946 as boy. The Skipper and engineer were both members of the Horlock family, the Mate was from Mistley, if my memory serves me correctly his name was Nobby Finch. At that time we were trading between Ipswich,Mistly and the Thames mostly with grain cargoes. I was in her about two months and was transferred to Horlocks sailing barge Redoubtable.
Robert
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  #3  
Old 6th September 2008, 15:42
Peter4447 Peter4447 is offline  
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Welcome aboard Paul
I think you are in for a pleasant surprise as there is a photo of 'Spithead' in the Gallery as she is today.
I think she was also mentioned in an earlier thread by another former crew member - will try and locate the thread in question for you.
Incidentally, F T Everard converted several of these X-Lighters for commercial use after WW1. From memory I think they were nicknamed 'Beetles' and had been designed to serve as water carriers at Gallipoli.

Peter4447

Last edited by Peter4447; 6th September 2008 at 15:47..
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  #4  
Old 6th September 2008, 16:18
Peter4447 Peter4447 is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT HENDERSON View Post
I joined the Spithead in the summer of 1946 as boy. The Skipper and engineer were both members of the Horlock family, the Mate was from Mistley, if my memory serves me correctly his name was Nobby Finch.
Robert
Hi Robert
In my Gallery there is a photo of a MN Captain who I am trying to identify and who I believe spent many years with Fred's Navy. Your reference to a 'Nobby' Finch may have put me on the right track - if memory serves me right I think the mystery Captain could have been called Finch and that he came from the Harwich/Mistley area, so perhaps he was related to the chap you sailed with?
Peter
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  #5  
Old 6th September 2008, 18:39
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Hello Robert;
There are a number of references to, and a photo of Nobby Finch when he was skipper of the Cambria in the late 1920s contained in Jim Uglow's excellent autobiography "Sailorman".
Bruce.
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  #6  
Old 6th September 2008, 20:16
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi Bruce
Is Jimmy Uglows book still available? I only stayed with barges untill my sixteenth birthday when I became old enough to get on the pool and join the MN proper, if thats the right way of putting it. Jimmy was Skipper of the Will Everard, which at the time was one of the bigger barges on the coast.He was landlord of the Brown Bear pub in Greenhith after he left the sea
Nobby Finch had actually retired, when Horlocks took the Spithead back from the Admiralty they needed a mate so Nobby came out of retirement.

Regards Robert.
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  #7  
Old 6th September 2008, 20:24
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi Peter
It is possible that the Captain in your gallery and Nobby are related. I am not sure if Nobbby had any children or how many.
The early periods when I first joined Everards they had a big fleet of somewhere in the region of a hundred ships, I was mostly in the tankers so if the gentleman you think maybe a Finch our paths may not have crossed so hence the reason I have never heard of him.

Regards Robert

Last edited by ROBERT HENDERSON; 6th September 2008 at 20:25.. Reason: keyboard not doing as instructed
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  #8  
Old 6th September 2008, 20:46
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi Peter
I have had another good look at the photo in your gallery, I am have tried to picture the Nobby Finch I sailed with and can see as far as I can recall a likeness in the facial features. I am sorry that I cannot be more certain as it is over sixty years ago since I last saw Nobby.

Regards Robert
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  #9  
Old 6th September 2008, 20:54
Peter4447 Peter4447 is offline  
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Many thanks Robert. I do have another photo of the same gent again in his full uniform but on this occasion he was visiting a school to talk about the work of the MN - not something that would happen these days!
Regards
Peter
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  #10  
Old 7th September 2008, 10:30
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Hello Robert, I doubt if this book is still in print but here are the details.
"Sailorman a barge masters story" published by Conway Maritime Press Limited. 7 Nelson road, Greenwich, London SE10. 1975.
isbn 0851770851.
I also knew Jim Uglow over a period of years with Everards, we sailed together on a delivery job in the 1960s, Jim mustered a crew for the delivery, but that is another story.
Bruce.
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  #11  
Old 7th September 2008, 11:47
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi Bruce
Thanks for the information regarding Jimmy Uglow's book, I will try and get hold of a copy.
Sorry I cannot be more helpful over the MB Spithead. As far as I know Horlocks owned the Spithead before World War Two, she was requisitioned during the war and served in Scapa Flow servicing Naval vessels, When I joined her Horlocks had just had her returned.
If you knew Jimmy Uglow when you were with Fred's Navy you must have spent some time in the back room of the Brown Bear after closing time. They used to have an after hours card school, I never joined in but used to have few whiskeys watching other silly buggers losing their money. You must know Jimmy's son that went to medical school and ended up surgically cutting ham for the ham sandwiches that Jimmy sold inthe pub.

Regards Robert
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  #12  
Old 7th September 2008, 20:58
paul the barge paul the barge is offline  
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Thanks to everyone for the very interesting replies.
Great to have some info on former crew members.
Thanks Robert for the insight into what she was doing in ww2, I had no idea that she was requistioned for duties at scapa flow!! Does anyone know any more about this period of time ? Would it be the case that Horlocks converted her after her duties in gallipoli 1915 ??(after disposal around 1921)
Great to have quality information guys, thanks so much.
Just to let you all know that she is still alive and well, I am part way into a preservation project. I think she is worth the effort given her long and varied history.
Regards, Paul.
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  #13  
Old 8th September 2008, 08:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT HENDERSON View Post
Hi Bruce
Thanks for the information regarding Jimmy Uglow's book, I will try and get hold of a copy.
Sorry I cannot be more helpful over the MB Spithead. As far as I know Horlocks owned the Spithead before World War Two, she was requisitioned during the war and served in Scapa Flow servicing Naval vessels, When I joined her Horlocks had just had her returned.
If you knew Jimmy Uglow when you were with Fred's Navy you must have spent some time in the back room of the Brown Bear after closing time. They used to have an after hours card school, I never joined in but used to have few whiskeys watching other silly buggers losing their money. You must know Jimmy's son that went to medical school and ended up surgically cutting ham for the ham sandwiches that Jimmy sold inthe pub.


Regards Robert
Hello Robert; I had forgotten about the card games, but remember the back room where the lads could go wild, devoid of furniture except for bare wooden tables and benches and a ceiling littered with coins wrapped in silver paper. I do remember Jimmy's son, a quite tall and quiet young man.
Bruce.
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  #14  
Old 10th September 2008, 15:35
paul the barge paul the barge is offline  
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Motor Barge Spithead. Recent Photo

Just for your info folks, here is a recent photo of Spithead.
Cheers Paul.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg P2120170a bw,quarter weblarge.jpg (105.7 KB, 90 views)
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  #15  
Old 10th September 2008, 16:59
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi Paul
The windows on the housing look to be different to when I was on her in 1946. Also the thunder box seems to have been removed from the stern.

Regards Robert
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  #16  
Old 10th September 2008, 22:30
paul the barge paul the barge is offline  
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Hi Robert,
Yes the housing windows were enlarged many years ago, originally had two lights to the front. She still has 2 opening lights to port and 3 to starboard.
Can you recall what this deckhouse was used for and how it was laid out when you were on her?
Showing my ignorance but I presume the thunderbox was the covered head with sloping cover right at the stern?
Thanks for your help.
Regards Paul.
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  #17  
Old 10th September 2008, 22:41
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi Paul
You are correct regarding the thunderbox aft. As far as I can recall the mate and I slept in cot type bunks in the foc'sle. The deckhouse had two small cabins, one for the Master and the other for the Engineer. There was as I recall a very small space just inside of the deckhouse where there was a small solid fuel stove for cooking on and a messroom where we all ate. I am sure regarding the layout of the deckhousing except for the cooking arrangements.

Regards Robert
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  #18  
Old 10th September 2008, 22:55
paul the barge paul the barge is offline  
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Hi Robert,
Very interesting, could I also ask you about the room or area immediatley below the deckhouse. Its a bit of a mystery to me as there is a steel bulkhead below the front of the deckhouse, what I presume was a full bulkhead to the enginge room( now has a hatchway) and a modernish staircase leading down from just inside the door to the deckhouse.
I have never really worked out how this was originally laid out or where the access was from.
The thunderbox was I believe cut off in the early seventies around the time of the Shinge Street grounding.
Hope you dont mind me asking lots of questions, but its quite intrigeing actually being able to chat about this sort of thing.
Thanks Paul.
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  #19  
Old 12th September 2008, 00:26
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi PAUL
I am 90% positive the was no room below the deckhouse and certainly no modern staircase. There was a bulkhead at the after end of the hold, behind that was the engine room. aft of the deckhouse was a hatch into the engineroom. I do not remember trimming lamps except in the dining area and the fo'csle so there must have been electrical power when the engine was running, paraffin lamps when stopped. There was no bridge control hence the reason for an engineer. It was 62 years ago since I sailed on her so some things are a little hazy now, fell free to ask as much as you like I will try to help as much as I can.

Regards Robert
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  #20  
Old 12th September 2008, 20:14
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Pemcol Pemcol is offline  
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Spithead

Marriages Flour Millers of Felixstowe had a motor barge very similar she was The Miller, I was home on leave in the 50's and my Father worked at the mill he came home one day and mentioned the Miller couldn't sail, because she had no mate. He asked me if I would do a couple of trips to help the skipper out, I did and quite enjoyed it, a bit of an eye opener after being deep see on tankers. If my memory is right she was powered by a Glennifer diesel engine.
Frank R597816
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  #21  
Old 12th September 2008, 21:14
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Frank R597816
I vaguely remember the Miller, she was similar to the Spithead at a first glance, but she certainly was not a Beetle as the Spithead type were called.
I see by your profile you were with Trinity House, I sailed on the Triton for about two months, the 3/O was originaly from Rix and went on to become Supt Navigation systems.

Regards Robert
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  #22  
Old 13th September 2008, 19:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT HENDERSON View Post
Frank R597816
I vaguely remember the Miller, she was similar to the Spithead at a first glance, but she certainly was not a Beetle as the Spithead type were called.
I see by your profile you were with Trinity House, I sailed on the Triton for about two months, the 3/O was originaly from Rix and went on to become Supt Navigation systems.

Regards Robert
Robert, I was on the Patricia, Vestal, Ready, and as at that time I was a fireman I was lucky enough to have avoided Triton.
Regards Frank.
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  #23  
Old 13th September 2008, 21:40
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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Hi Frank
Do remember the NUS representitave at Harwich named Bob Lee. When he knew I was joining the Triton he said ''That ship is manned from every prison in Britain except Holloway.

Regards Robert
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  #24  
Old 16th September 2008, 23:52
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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I have just been looking at the coasters remembered website an d it gives a lot more history of the Spithead. According to the website she, along with others of her class were built for the Gallipoli campaign, I certainly have never heard of that.

Regards Robert
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  #25  
Old 17th September 2008, 23:32
paul the barge paul the barge is offline  
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Just so that you know guys, I made the same sort of enquiry about Spithead on the Coasters remembered website. There is indeed some interesting info on there. Spithead and all the other X-Lighters were built for the Gallipoli landings at Suvla bay. They were desinged by the Faversham shipbuilders Pollocks and built at shipyards around the country from mid 1915.
The X-lighters are the little known first ever type of amphibious landing craft ever built. From my research Spithead was around the 3rd or 4th of these craft to be built so she very likley was one of the first to serve at Gallipoli.
A photo showing an X-Lighter at Gallipoli on this page

http://www.iwm.org.uk/upload/package...i/seasuvla.htm
Regards Paul.
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