Historic & Iconic Sailing Barges

The Trust aims to educate the public in the history of the Thames Sailing Barge and we work with schools and other organisations in explaining the history of these iconic vessels as well as holding open days and attending other events.

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Sailing Barge enthusiasts

The Trust was previously a private members’ club ‘The Thames Barge Sailing Club, formed by a few enthusiasts who realised that they were witnessing the end of sail on London River (the Thames). Barges had been the workhorses of the river, trading into the estuary, around the coast, across the Channel and survived the 1939-45 war to become the last coastal sailing cargo vessels trading in the United Kingdom.

In 1948 the Club was formed with Frank Carr, then Director of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich as its first Commodore. By 1963 the ageing club barge Arrow was replaced by Asphodel and the Club was given Westmoreland.

Arrow 15th August 1954 TSBT Archive

Pudge and Centaur TSBT Archive

The introduction of our current barges

In 1968 Pudge was acquired straight out of trade as a motor barge. The members converted her back to sail and later acquired the onetime charter barge Centaur. A lengthy restoration and rebuild of Centaur was carried out. The Club evolved into a small shipping company run, crewed and maintained by volunteers.

Our move to Maldon

With the closure of the London Docks in 1982 the Club sought a new base, leaving the London River for Maldon on the River Blackwater. Members undertake much of the routine maintenance of the barges and the club has trained many of its volunteer Skippers and Mates to carry on the traditions of the ‘Sailormen’.

Centaur – Loading Grain TSBT Archive

Volunteer run

The Club transformed itself into a Charitable Trust in 2003 and as the Thames Sailing Barge Trust continues to be run by volunteers.

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