Her Majesty The Queen
London SW1A 1AA
3rd July 2015
Hello Your Majesty,
I am writing to you today about historical Thames Barge Sailing Boats and their need for help with continual restoration and maintenance.
I am not asking funding from you of any sort, but I am seeking some guidance or influential help to get permission to put on a Thames Barge Sailing Boat Parade along the river Thames for fund raising.
Having seen such an awesome site at your Jubilee with all those vessels that sailed alongside you down the river Thames, and the numbers of people that stood along the embankment, it made me think that a parade of Thames Barge Sailing Boats with their full regalia of sails up could be the kind of publicity they need to raise public awareness so they could attain sponsorship, advertising or donations for the upkeep of these vessels.
I would not like to presume you know all about these vessels, but I have read that Prince Philip does, so I will offer a very brief historical insight.
Thames barge sailing boats were all built without engines as sailing vessels (totally green transport) specifically to manoeuvre trade and cargo on the river Thames and rivers around the Thames Estuary. They have a deep historical value to London with over 2000 of these vessels on the registry in their heyday at the turn of the 20th century, but that century saw a steady decline in their numbers following the Second World War to a number that totals no more than a couple of hundred today.
Their use in moving cargo as part of the coastal barge trade diminished when the nation became more mechanised and cargoes went by road and rail instead of by sea.
Today there is sparse recognition of their importance or their part in the capital’s history - Britain's history - and there is nowhere in the UK that properly celebrates their value and historical place.
I would like to change that and organise something that perhaps not only celebrates Thames Barge Sailing Boats, but other vessels that should be recognised and valued for their importance in Britannia's rule of the waves.
Many of the existing barge boat owners find it difficult publicising these vessels to gain sponsorship or funding of any sort so that they can maintain them as seaworthy craft.
Most owners put on chartered events like dinners, birthdays, corporate team building and special occasions to raise funds, but this is really hard without some sort of public awareness.
I have found that when these sailing barges are seen or can be seen from the land people talk of how amazing they look with their full regalia of sails up, though not enough people get a glimpse of such a wondrous site and not nearly enough nowadays know anything about them.
To get these sailing barges a good bit of promotion to keep alive what is becoming a dying historic commodity that should really be valued by London and all those who visit London, I am seeking permission to organise an annual summertime event (preferably a weekend date within the school summer holidays) where thirty or so barges can sail right up the river Thames and back to a freely designated mooring place for a night or two preferably with good public access so that the public can come aboard to view and learn something of their history.
I know through the research that I have done that people would love to see such an event,
so I ask if you are able to help or at least point us in a direction of help with the right authorities or persons that can permit such an annual event.
I have already written to the Mayor of London asking for permission to run an annual Thames Barge Sailing Boat Parade along the river Thames, but I am not sure if he is the right person to engage with, however, in talking with others so passionately about wanting to get this event off of the ground, it emerged in a suggestion that I should contact the Queen to ask for your help also, since you continue to honour such occasions as Operation Dynamo and the ‘little ships’ that sailed to Dunkirk to rescue troops from being trapped on the beaches there?
I believe that such an event would not only be good for the Thames Barge Sailing Boats, but equally as valuable to London and its tourist market as an annual historic event.
I can give you a lot more details once we can get into discussions on planning the event, but in principle I need help with getting engaged with the right authorities to sound out the feasibility of making such an event really happen.
(Crew Member and Enthusiast of Edme Barge - www.EdmeBarge.com)