6th July 2015
I am writing to you today about historical Thames Barge Sailing Boats and their need for help with continual restoration, maintenance and fund raising.
Having seen such an awesome site on the river Thames at the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee with all those vessels that sailed alongside her, 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 to continue the upkeep of these vessels.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 discuss the feasibility of making such an event really happen.
(Crew Member and Enthusiast of Edme Barge - www.EdmeBarge.com)