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   The Society for Sailing Barge Research


If you have any news or items of interest that you would like to share with barge enthusiasts please contact John White by email. john.white6@talk21.com




TRUSTEES of a Sittingbourne museum destroyed in a suspected arson attack say they are determined to keep the town’s heritage alive. The Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum on Milton Creek, off Crown Quay Lane, burned down in a blaze at 8.20pm on Sunday and police are treating it as suspicious. Members of the trust sifting through the debris yesterday found the only object to survive was a large metal bandsaw. Chairman Clive Reader has received emails from supporters, including an Australian man with family links to barge-building who visited the museum the day before the fire. Mr Reader said three gas cylinders had been found in the wreckage and it is believed they were used to start the fire. Mr Reader said: "We are pig sick because we have been fighting for funds for years. Sittingbourne has lost a huge part of its heritage that we have been fighting to protect from lots of outside influences. If we are to rebuild the museum we will need all the help we can get." He added that feelers had already been put out to see where else the museum could go if it cannot stay at the yard. The museum, which reflected Sittingbourne’s maritime history, was housed in a two-storey timber-frame building originally used for barge-building.




Will be held at the "Three Daws",

7 Town Pier, West Street, 

Gravesend,  Kent. DA11 0BJ

On Saturday 9th May 2009 at 3.00pm



The Agenda and a  resume of the minutes of the previous A.G.M. will be circulated to all members with the

Spring Edition of "Newsletter" prior to the AGM.


AMBO Exhibits at 2002 AGM

Taking Refreshments after the AGM

Michael Lands fine model

2002 A.G.M. at Leigh on Sea





The Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum and Barge Repair Yard



The Trustees are pleased to announce that the Museum is opening again on it's existing site from Good Friday 21st 2008. Much work has been done by members repairing the vandalism that occurred during the closure. The museum will be open most weekends + other days throughout the year.

Visitors and visiting barges especially welcome.  For more information contact:-

 Clive Reader  Chairman  01795-520491, John Hull 01795-471725 Peter MacDonald   01795-873116




The only book ever dedicated to barge racing is Racing Sailormen, by the late Capt. F. S. Cooper, published in 1963. A key aspect was the inclusion of the statistics for winning barges.

These results are now being brought up to date in a new publication entitled "Sailing Barge Racing" which is calling for information. Progress of the project can be seen at:







It has been reported that the 'Oak' of Maldon is being broken up at Dolphin Yard.

It is also reported that 'Beatrice Maud' has been broken up at the Boating World Boat Yard at Landrake on the river Lynher in Cornwall,


The Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum and Barge Repair Yard


The Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum and Barge Repair Yard finally closed its doors at the end of October 2005. The closure came about when the present owners of the site, Supreme Concrete, gave notice to the trustees to quit the site. The Charitable Trust which was formed in June 1968 decided not to challenge the decision in the courts as balanced against the Trust retaining the site the costs could have proved more than the small Trust could afford.



Following the closure of Dolphin Yard the 'Cambria' is to be put into a lighter and taken to Sheerness Docks where hopefully the Cambria Trust will be able to complete the restoration of such a fine old lady.




The "Tollesbury" which sank in the Millwall Dock in September has now been refloated.

Member Chris Croyden Cooper reported: She is still moored with the

gangplank almost vertical. She has a float device around her presumably to

deal with any oil (or light ale) spillage. She is now fenced off, so couldn't

get too close.

She was about to be given marching orders to make space for the re-located

South Quay DLR station - end of Pub business? She was in quite good nick.

Timbers within looked good (I gather she was extensively rebuilt after the

Canary Wharf bomb). She was well painted and on top of that her mainmast

and Sprit are recent.

I wonder whether she is insured???


An extract from the East London Advertiser reads as follows:-


"Pub with no pier sinks last pint"


21 September 2005
HITLER’S Luftwaffe failed to sink her at Dunkirk and she even survived the Docklands IRA
bomb 56 years later.
But now a famous barge that has recently been a favourite haunt for thousands of office
workers lies mysteriously defeated at the bottom of Millwall Dock.
An investigation is under way into how the floating pub Tollesbury sank on Monday morning.
Firefighters and rescue teams were called to the dock, near South Quay, Marsh Wall, after
the Thames barge began to sink.
Investigators were trying to fathom how the vessel, which survived both German gunfire
during the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk and the 1996 South Quay IRA bomb, ended up
partially submerged in the water.
Emergency services went to the scene at around 7am on Monday, but by the time they
 arrived the 84ft barge, which had no one on board, had already sunk.
Officials from British Waterways sealed off the area and were examining the water for
any debris or pollution.
They have contacted the owner, David Paling, who is now overseeing the operation to
refloat and possibly rebuild the boat.
A British Waterways spokesman said: “It’s still a mystery as to how the barge sank, but
it’s very sad after all it’s been through.”
It is the latest chapter in the illustrious history of the barge, which was requisitioned
for the Dunkirk evacuations and badly damaged in the 1996 IRA bomb.
Mr Paling could not be contacted for comment.



More happily, Wilfred is back at Temple Pier. Hull seems to have had work done  She (he) is well painted and a lot of the ghastly extra buiding on the deck has been tidied.





Member Mike Shirley has kindly donated some copies of "The Story of the Cambria" by the Maritime Trust, published 1973 by Endlebury Publishing Co. These are for sale in aid of Society funds at £6.50 each including post & packaging.  Please Email john.white6@talk21.com or telephone John White on 01206 825317 to reserve a copy. 


For Details of the Societies latest Publications - see:

" Publications Page".