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The Society for Sailing Barge Research

George Skidmores sketch of S.B. Memory at Tollesbury May 1991

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 the 1980's.


Chairman:    Richard Walsh
Vice Chairman:      Charles Traill
Chairman Emeritus:  Tony Farnham
Hon. Secretary:     John White
Hon. Treasurer:     Tim Mileson
Membership Secretary:   Margaret Blackburn
Minutes Secretary:   Tricia Gurnett
Archive Curator  Don Wright
Sales & Artefacts:    Roger Newlyn
Researcher:  Janet Beyer
Committee Members:  

Graham Dent

Peter Ferguson

Dave Brooks 

Elizabeth Wood

Linda Hoy

Tim Mileson

Editor of "Topsail" & Publications Co-ordinator:     Richard Walsh 
Editor - "Mainsheet"  Charles Traill 

For Membership Information see "Membership" page or Contact :-

Mrs Margaret Blackburn on 01553 617418


For any other information that is not available on this website please contact:-

 The Hon Sec., John White, 5 Cox Road, Alresford, 

  Colchester, Essex CO7 8EJ.

Tel: 01206-825317 or Email: john.white6@talk21.com






1.                  NAME


The Society shall be called the Society for Sailing Barge Research.


2.                  OBJECTS


To advance public education in the history of Sailing Barges and the ports from which they sailed: to foster and encourage research into the history of barge building, ownership, and the craft themselves and the men who sailed them, and to provide a forum for those interested in the subject.


3.                  MEMBERSHIP


i.                    Those persons or bodies having sympathy with the objects of the Society and desiring to further them and pay the subscription prescribed by the rules.


ii.                  The membership at the adoption of these rules.


iii.                Family Membership – covering more than one member of the same family residing at the same address. This includes Institutional Membership.


iv.                Honorary Life Members – persons eminent in the world of barges and invited by the Committee  to serve in this position for life. Honorary Life Members are not required to pay a subscription.


NOTE: Members of the Society shall not receive payment either directly or indirectly for their services to the Society, other than legitimate expenses incurred in the work of the Society.


4.                  SUBSCRIPTIONS:


Members shall pay a subscription for each period of such an amount as she be fixed from time to time by the committee. Subscriptions are due on the 1st January annually and if not renewed by 30th June shall be deemed to have lapsed. Any member leaving the Society shall not be entitled to any proportion of his or her subscription for the year returned or remitted.


Any new member joining the Society on or after the 1st September in any year and paying the appropriate subscription in force at the time shall be deemed to be a member for the remainder of that year and the whole of the following financial year.


5.                  COMMITTEE:


i.                    The Society shall be managed by a Committee consisting of the Officers of the Society, namely Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Membership Secretary, Treasurer and not more than ten other Committee members.


ii.                  The Chairman, shall be elected for a three year fixed term and will not be eligible to stand again in the following three year period. The retiring chairman shall automatically be appointed as an honorary life member.


iii.                The Vice Chairman, Secretary, Membership Secretary & Treasurer shall be elected for three years and other Committee members shall hold office for one year. All will be eligible to stand for further periods of office.


iv.                The business of the Society shall be conducted by meetings of the Committee or otherwise as the Committee shall decide from time to time.


v.                  Four members of the Committee shall form a quorum.


vi.                The  Committee shall make and publish such regulations, as they may from time to time deem necessary. The Committee shall have the power to appoint sub-committees and may delegate to such sub-committees such of its powers and functions as are considered necessary.


vii.              The Committee and any sub-committee shall have the power to co-opt additional members as considered necessary.


viii.            In the absence of the Chairman and Vice Chairman the Committee shall nominate a member to act as Chairman for that meeting.


ix.                Every member of the Committee shall have one vote and in the case of an equality of votes on a particular subject the Chairman shall have the casting vote.


x.                  In the event of the retirement or indisposition of an officer of the Committee a successor may be appointed by the Committee.


xi.                No person may serve on the Committee of the Society until they have been a member for at least twelve months. At the Committees discretion a member may be co-opted onto the Committee during that period as a non voting member to do a specific job.


6.                  FINANCIAL MATTERS


i.                    ACCOUNTS – The accounts of the Society shall be kept in a satisfactory manner and shall be made up to the 31st December each year and shall be duly certified by the Society’s Auditor. A balance sheet shall be circulated to all Members and Honorary Life Members for consideration at the Annual General Meeting.


ii.                  AUDITOR – The Committee shall appoint an Auditor to act on its behalf.


iii.                CHEQUES – All cheques shall be signed by the Treasurer And either the Chairman or the Secretary.


iv.                BANKING ACCOUNTS – Banking Accounts shall be kept in the name of the Society in a bank and/or Building Society approved by the Committee.


7.                  GENERAL MEETINGS


i.                    The Annual General Meeting shall be held not later than 30th June in any year. Members shall be notified of such meetings not less than 14 days prior to the meeting. Nominations for election of Officers and Committee Members may be made in writing to the Secretary prior to the commencement of the meeting  or from the floor during the Annual General Meeting.


ii.                  Each Member has a right to vote at any Annual General Meeting either in person or through a proxy and in the case of an equality of votes on a particular subject the Chairman shall have the casting vote. 


iii.                Extra Ordinary General Meetings may be called at any time at the discretion of the Committee or upon receipt by the Secretary of a request in writing signed by at least 12 members of voting capacity. Such requests must specify the business to be discussed at the meeting and no other business shall be transacted at such a meeting. Members shall be notified of such meetings not less than 14 days prior to the meeting, a quorum of not less than 10% of the full Society membership or 25 members whichever is the less must be present.



8.                  ACTIVITIES


i.                    The Committee shall be empowered to arrange meetings, walks, exhibitions and such activities as they consider appropriate to the objects of the Society or in association with any other person, persons or organisations considered appropriate by the Committee.


ii.                  Publications – The Society shall produce such journals, newsletters or other communications as the Committee shall from time to time decide.


iii.                The Society may acquire and sell to members and others such publications and other objects as it may from time to time be decided by the Committee.


iv.                The Society may procure and award trophies for such achievements as the Committee may from time to time decide.


9.                  ALTERATION TO THE RULES


No rules shall be altered except at a General Meeting: notice of the proposed alteration(s) to be given not less than 14 days prior to the meeting.


10.              DISSOLUTION


The Society may only be dissolved by a resolution passed by a majority of the Members at an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting to be called for that purpose.    





Any matters not provided for in these rules shall be dealt with by the Committee at their discretion.




1983 – incorporating amendments confirmed at the 1982 Annual General Meeting

1987 – incorporating amendments confirmed at the 1986 Annual General Meeting

1996 – incorporating amendments confirmed at the 1994 Annual General Meeting

2003 – incorporating amendments confirmed at the 2003 Annual General Meeting

2011 – incorporating amendments confirmed at the 2011 Annual General Meeting

2012 – incorporating amendments confirmed at the 2012 Annual General Meeting

2015 – incorporating amendments confirmed at the 2015Annual General Meeting


Updated 16/05/2016