58034Re: Weston Martyr - Not for $200 nor Millionaire - but how much?
- Jul 7, 2008Should have done more research.Frank Carr in his book on sailing barges says that 'bridge sails' were a species of small square headed lugsail, although the normal mizzen and,possibly,a small foresail might also be used.There is a picture of a pair of barges further downriver,almost identical to the ones in the ebay photo,on p118 in the 1989 edition of his book.In which case both will be barges,rather than narrowboats,and the nearer one will be one of the old 'swimheads'.Thames barges were built in great numbers and all lengths from about 40ft upwards,originally as swimheads(think lighter or very large Tortoise)then,after about 1850, increasingly with the pointed bow and straight stem of the modern barge. The Thames barge races demonstrated that the new style was faster and must have helped to popularise it,but the old swimheads were still competing in the 1890's and the last one was still trading into the 1930's carrying 'gas water' up round the coast
of East Anglia.(Gas water or coal tar is the liquid distillate from the old gas coking plants).The others had probably finished up as lighters.The Port of London Authority comissioned a series of photos of the Thames in 1937 and the swimhead lighters shown in those have some shape to them,as if they had been sailing craft at one time,rather than the more angular form of the modern steel swimheads.The depression of the 1930's probably eliminated most of the smaller barges.
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