Thames Barges at Whitstable during the Flood of 1953


The massive flooding of Whitstable in 1953 had serious consequences for many aspects of town life as recorded in our Flood of '53 feature.

pages. On this page, we confine ourselves to collecting flood stories involving local Thames barges.

Kathleen on the Slip

The Kathleen is one the town's most fondly remembered barges and her exploits have given rise to a book or two. After all she was.... sunk in 1923.... converted to an auxiliary in 1945... turned into a full motor barge in 1954... re-rigged as a barge yacht in 1965.... occupied as a houseboat in Holland in the 1970s..... and finally hulked near Spaarndam. Her ship's wheel made it back to UK and now serves as the symbol for Chaffcutter Books.

With a history like that, the Kathleen was hardly likely to miss out on the fun of a flood.... and she didn't.... which is why the picture below has a somewhat odd look about it. John Wraight explains.....

At the time of the 1953 flood, Kathleen was on the slip of the Anderson, Rigden and Perkins yard, Island Wall. She was washed up..... and demolished the shipyard building and slipway!

The barge Kathleen at the Anderson & Rigden boatyard in 1953

Kathleen at the Anderson & Rigden boatyard in 1953 - lying across the slipway and adjacent to the building she partially demolished. The bunting celebrates the fact that she is about to be relaunched after repair

A temporary slipway was built under her and she was launched back into the sea..... sideways."

John Wraight

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