|Founded in 1963 as the Society for Spritsail Barge Research
by a band of of enthusiasts concerned that the rapid decline and possible
extinction of these splendid and historically significant craft would pass
largely unrecorded. From the thousands of Thames sailing barges once plying the
rivers and estuaries of the south east and beyond, today just a handful survive
in active commission with charter parties and business guests replacing the
grain, cement, brick and coal cargoes of yesteryear.
Now renamed The Society for Sailing Barge Research,
reflecting a broadening interest in other allied craft, the ports from which
they sailed and the men who built, owned and sailed them. The Society organises
walks, talks and exhibitions and publishes various books and journals on sailing
barge related subjects.
Amongst these is "Topsail", a regular treasure
chest of sailing barge history, profusely illustrated with
fascinating photographs of long lost craft and the ports they once served.
Members also receive a twice yearly Newsletter which details the activities of
the Society and highlights the fortunes of the barges that survive, as well as
providing further snippets of our maritime heritage as ongoing research yields
yet more of the barge trade that ceased in 1970 when the Cambria carried her
last freight under sail alone. A few ex sailormen continued as motor barges into