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Sailor's Woolwork -Woolie- of a Thames Barge with banner reading Harry & Nellie, Circa 1885-1900.


Sailor's Woolwork-Woolie- of a Thames Barge

Banner reads Harry & Nellie,

Circa 1885-1900


  The sails of these barges were usually red ochre as is the ship in this woolie. To make a sail more efficient and to prolong its life they are dressed with a mixture of oil (traditionally fish oil), seawater (&/or horse urine if available!) and red ochre. The red ochre is purely a colouring agent, without which the sails would look a dirty grey colour. Sail dressing often had "secret" ingredients


The woolie depicts the port side view with the ship towing a small boat off the stern.  A large white banner flies from the ship with a white ground and Union Jack in the top corner and the name of the ship the "Harry & Nellie in black wool.


Dimensions:  25 inches x 35 1/2 inches


John White, a specialist on Thames barges wrote to me, " I can confirm your woolwork depicts a Thames Barge, judging by the bow and the fact the that mizzen is situated on the after deck I would say that it is c'1870-1900.+/-10 years. Unfortunately there is NO  vessel registered with that name. As such I would suggest it is a form of love token or similar."







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Thames Sailing Barge


Reference:


Thames Sailing Barge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



A Thames sailing barge was a type of commercial sailing boat common on the River Thames in London in the 19th century. The flat-bottomed barges were perfectly adapted to the Thames Estuary, with its shallow waters and narrow rivers.


The barges also traded much further afield, to the north of England, the South Coast and even to continental European ports. Cargoes varied enormously: bricks, mud, hay, rubbish, sand, coal and grain, for example. Due to the efficiency of a Thames barge's gear, a crew of only two sufficed for most voyages, although by today's standards it would have been hard physical work at times.


The vast majority of barges were wooden hulled (although a significant number were also built in steel), between 80 and 90 feet (25 to 30 m) long with a beam of around 20 feet (6 m). The hull form was as distinctive as their rig, being flat-bottomed with a degree of flair to the sides and plumb ends. The stern was a transom, shaped like a section through a champagne glass, on which was hung a large rudder. The hull was mainly a hold with two small living areas in the bow and stern, and access was through two large hatchways, the smaller before the main mast and a much larger aperture behind.


They were usually spritsail rigged on two masts. Most had a topsail above the huge mainsail and a large foresail. The mizzen was a much smaller mast on which was set a single sail whose main purpose was to aid steering when tacking. The rig also allowed a relatively large sail area on the upper part of the mast, to catch wind when moored ships, buildings or trees blocked wind on the water's surface. Sail areas varied from 3000 to 5000 square feet (300 to 500 m²) depending on the size of the barge. The typical, attractive rusty-red colour of the flax sails was due to the dressing used to waterproof them (traditionally made from red ochre, cod oil, and seawater). No auxiliary power was used originally but many barges were fitted with engines in the later years.


In good conditions, sailing barges could attain speeds over 12 knots, and their leeboards allowed them to be highly effective windward performers. The unusual sprits'l rig allowed any combination of sails to be set: even the topsail on its own could be effective in some conditions.


History


The flat-bottomed hull made these craft extremely versatile and economical. They could float in as little as 3 feet (1 m) of water and could dry out in the tidal waters without heeling over. This allowed them to visit the narrow tributaries and creeks of the Thames to load farm cargoes, or to dry out on the sand banks and mudflats to load materials for building and brickmaking (it was no coincidence that their use peaked while London was expanding rapidly). The main mast could be lowered to clear bridges. Furthermore, unlike most sailing craft, these barges could sail completely unballasted — a major saving in labour and time.


Their heyday came at the turn of the 20th century when over 2000 were on the registry. That century saw a steady decline in their numbers. The last Thames barge to trade entirely under sail was the Everard-built Cambria in 1970, owned by Captain A. W. (Bob) Roberts. Roberts sailed the Cambria for more than twenty years, and gained a reputation for hard sailing and fast passages in other Everard barges.


Cambria's last mate was Dick Durham from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, with whom Bob carried the last freight under sail alone: 100 tons of cattle cake from Tilbury Dock to Ipswich in October 1970. Dick wrote Bob Roberts' biography: The Last Sailorman.

There was never a shortage of youths ready to sail in the barges, but few could put up with the workload, the weather conditions and the sparse income of the "mate's berth". Following the Second World War, the coastal barge trade diminished as the nation became more mechanised. Cargoes went by road instead of by sea, squeezing the purses of the barge owners, until most of the once-handsome barges were given motors and relegated to short, lightering passages within the Thames Estuary.


Today, a small number of sailing barges remain, converted to pleasure craft and commonly sailed in the annual races which take place in the Thames Estuary. One of the leading individuals involved in preserving and maintaining Thames barges was Jane Benham, who was awarded the MBE for her work in creating and running a charitable trust devoted to educational sailing voyages and the preservation of barges.

Some barges were part of the fleet of 'Little Ships' that took soldiers back to England from Dunkirk. One of these, Pudge, was harmed by a mine but has been fixed up and is still used on the rivers today.







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