Sailing a Thames Barge

About this Adventure



Fact File:
Duration: TBC
Price: TBC



Step back in timeby crewing this workhorse of the Industrial Revolution

Despite the progress made in the technology of sailing there is something exciting about the slower traditional vessels that have been plying their trade for at least a century. The Thames barges were originally built to carry goods around the coast of East Anglia and Kent and are now kept afloat by enthusiasts determined to keep the tradition alive.

They have restored a couple of the barges to a level where they are used as weekend charters and it’s a remarkable experience, with no engines and just the wind to power them they feel as if they’ve have sailed out of the pages of a history book, and being on board as spray crashes against the bows and ropes are hauled in you can certainly understand why those who fight to keep them afloat feel so strongly.

Out on the water you pass ships capable of carrying far more than these little craft and they are clearly fantastic pieces of engineering but they just don’t seem as evocative as the barges, it is hard to imagine people being so passionate about saving them in a hundred years as they are about the sailing craft.

If you stay on the barges overnight you awake to the silence of the sea, broken only by the wind in the sails and the cry of a seagull, with the sun rising this view can’t have changed much since the barges heyday a century ago.

Read on for some more information on Topsail Charters:

From the outset in 1987, when Topsail Charters was established by Stephanie Valentine and Paul Jeffries, the ethos of the company has been to preserve barges by keeping them actively working. Since then, Topsail Charters has played a key role in keeping Hydrogen and Thistle earning their own keep and funding an ongoing maintenance and restoration programme.

In 1999 Topsail Charters took on the lease and refurbished Cooks Yard on Hythe Quay. Formerly known as Walter Cook & Son, boatbuilding has been recorded on the site long before Walter Cook established his barge building business in 1894 and until it’s demise in the late 80’s, was the last remaining barge yard in Britain. We have restored boatbuilding and barge repair to the site and maintained the last set of original barge repair blocks on the East Coast.

In the year 2006 over 11,000 people enjoyed a charter on one of our vessels, some as individuals and some as part of group functions. Your booking plays a key role in ensuring the future of these historic vessels and we value your contribution.

Topsail Charters are dedicated to protecting the Thames barges and charter them out.

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