Thames Barges that worked Whitstable... Where are they now?


In setting up our Thames Barge feature, many familiar barge names have been mentioned as regular visitors to Whitstable harbour of bygone days. We thought that it would be fascinating to list these on a single page and provide a brief history. In so doing, we have located the wherabouts of some and the sad fate of others.

The tables below summarise the information received to date. We would like to extend our thanks to....

I would also like to acknowledge the late John Harman for his contribution and help in creating the article.

The barges are listed in alphabetical order.... from Anglia.... to Xylonite.


The Listing

Anglia (London)
Official. No. 110029

Not known

History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1898 by H. Shrubsall at Ipswich for George Ventris & Hibbs of Brightlingsea
  • A stackie of 54 tons, 82.3 x 20.3 x 5.6.
  • Subsequently sold to Paul's 1940, rebuilt 1946 after war requisition as a mine spotter at Harwich (1941/45).
  • Sold by Paul's 1960. Converted and used as a barge yacht from 1961 by M. Burger.
  • Latterly used as a rigged house barge by G. Reeves at Hoo.
  • Known to be for sale in 1992 for £35,000 - believed in poor condition.
Latest Info:

Not known. However, in 2004, a barge called "Anglia" was discussed in the "forum" section of the Thame Sailing Barge Trust organisation web site at:

It was reported as lying close to the old lock gates of the Strood canal and suffering fire damage. Her stern was missing. One of her name boards was reported as being at the Dolphin Museum in Sittingbourne.

Ardwina (London)
Official. No. 129016

Peter ? (Surname not known)

History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built1909, by Orvis & Fuller at Ipswich for E. J. & W. Goldsmith
  • 66 tons, 85.1 x 21.1 x 6.4.
  • Sold to Metcalf Motor Coasters Ltd 9th Sept 1942.
  • 9th Oct 1950 she was owned by Daniels Bros. (Whitstable) Ltd. And Leonard Vandersyde (Shipbroker) who had equal 32/64 shares.
  • 20th July 1951 saw another change in ownership. Daniel Bros. increased their percentage to 48/64th’s and the other 16/64th’s were bought by Barge Master Michael William Blyth.
  • 16th Nov 1951 Daniel Bros. became sole owner.
  • 21st Jan 1959 Bryan Kenneth Herve a company director from Thorpe Bay owned her.
  • 6th Oct 1961 a photographer from Maldon, Geoffrey Gordon bought her.
  • Five years later 31st Oct 1966 John Alexander Hunt a designer from Maldon and Frederick Brian Hogben a company director from Hampstead had joint ownership
  • Hogben took over sole ownership in Jan 1971.
  • Present owners Ardwina Ltd. (1985). Good photos on p. 49 Tops’l 28 & p.6 Tops’l 29
Latest Info:

Last known owner is Ardwina Ltd. For further information and photo, visit the Thames Sailing Barge Organisation web site at:

Azima (Faversham)
Official. No. 104941
  • Capt. Alf Fryer and son
  •  'Sonny' Kelsey
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1898, 50 tons, at Whitstable, for Whitstable Shipping Company (latterly Daniels)
  • owned by Daniels until circa 1960
  • Auxiliary conversion 1944
  • One of the last three barges owned by Daniel's in 1956. Skippers included 'Sonny' Kelsey and Capt. A. Fryer.
  • Hulked on Quarry Yard (Strood Canal) and buried there 1986.
Latest Info:

Believed Sunk in the Medway. Buried at Quarry Yard, Strood Canal

Cereal (Faversham)
Official. No. 104931
  •  Fred Wraight
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1894 at Whitstable, 43 tons, for Daniel's.
  • Soon after her launch she was washed ashore at Ramsgate and the crew had to be taken off.
  • Skipper was Fred Wraight from 1913.
  • Absorbed into Daniel’s fleet 1919.
  • In September 1929, skippered by Albert Fryer with a heavy cargo of sacked grain, she ended up on her port side blocking the entrance to Whitstable harbour. This was caused by the cargo shifting, and she was recovered on the next tide.
  •  Doubled at the end of WW2.
  • Converted into a barge yacht in the late 1940's by the Whitewall Yard and re-named Lyford Anna.
  • Frank Lucas and family lived aboard.
  • Used as a yacht barge at Pin Mill in the late 1960's.
  • Laid up at Faversham by 1980 and broken up by mid 1990’s.
Latest Info:

Broken up by mid-1990s

Colonia (Harwich)
Official. No. 105422
  •  Arthur Jemmett
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1897 by Felton at Sandwich for Groom, 62 tons.
  • Rigged at some time with a hollow wooden sprit.
  • Sold by Groom to Cranfield's, who owned her until just after WW1 when she was sold to Francis & Gilder's.
  • Purchased by Daniel's 1950.
  • Wrecked 1929 (1930?)
  • October 1956, she was on Pollard's Spit near the Isle of Sheppey when her mainsail was blown away in a gale. She started to take on water and declared a total loss. Her crew were rescued by Southend lifeboat.
  • The Colonia was last barge to trade under sail in the Medway area. Bow detail p. 23, Topsail 29, photo plate no.14 E.J. March
Latest Info:

Sunk off Ness Houses in 1956 after being demasted in a storm

Duluth (Faversham)
Official. No. 104935
History/Description by John White:
  • Built 1895 at Whitstable for Whitstable Shipping Company, latterly Daniels.
  • 57 Reg Tons. Spritsail rigged.
  •  Severely damaged in the Lower Hope in a collision in 1897, salvaged, repaired and returned to trade.
  •  Sank again in 1912 near the Nore lightship, salvaged, repaired and returned to trade.
  • Stranded near Scrapsgate, Sheppey in the great gale of November 1921.
  • Much engaged in the Channel trade.
  • Skippered by Albert Fryer, she sank near the Mid-Shoebury Buoy 10 May, 1942 after running over the wreck of a mined steamer  (Albert had been aboard Daniels' H.K.D. when she was also mined in January 1942). (MNL 1899: MNL 1916: Us bargemen: Last Berth:).
Latest Info:

Duluth was lost after running over that mine in wartime.

Edith (Rochester)
Official. No. 118208
  • Arthur Jemmett
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built1904 at Sittingbourne, 48 tons, for Cary.
  • Third in 1905 & 1906 Medway Match Races.
  • Sold to Cremer.
  • Auxiliary conversion 1927, subsequently removed.
  • Motor barge conversion 1952.
  • Still in trade in 1956, owned by the Faversham Freightage Company, latter day successors to Cremer for whom she carried corn, coal and timber.
  • Hulked on the Tamar after 1960. (Story p. 31, Topsail 30)
Latest Info:

Hulked on Tamar some time after 1960

Esther (Faversham)
Official. No. 104945
  • Percy Wildish
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1900 at Faversham by Alfred White Junior, 43 tons, for Mrs Emma Seager.
  • She passed on to John Horsford during WW1 and then Cremer (latterly the Faversham Freightage Company).
  • Sold again to Daniels, and finally to Sticking.
  • Auxiliary conversion 1953, motor barge from 1953 - 1960.
  • Used as a house barge at Wouldham in 1979.
  • Hulked at West Hoo Creek by 1993.
  • Davits on port side. (Photo p. 17, Topsail 34)
Latest Info:

Hulked at West Hoo Creek by 1993.

Kathleen (Rochester)
Official. No. 113708
  • Walter Kelsey (skipper) and William Kelsey (mate) pre-1928
  • Fred Wraight accompanied by his son (Fred) from 1928.
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1901 by Glovers' at Gravesend, 53 tons.
  • Sails made by Goldfinch.
  • Sold to Whitstable Shipping Company in 1909 (latterly Daniel Bros)
  • A removable tie beam was fitted across the main hatch in WW1 to allow long lengths of timber to be loaded easily.
  • Thorough refit mid-1944 at Daniel's' yard. Her skipper since 1928 at this time was F.W. Wraight with son Fred as mate.
  • During the summer of 1945 she was one of the early barges to load straw from Colchester Hythe to Lloyd Paper Mills at Sittingbourne.
  • Converted to an auxiliary in late 1945 at Whitstable.
  • She worked dry cargoes all of her working life.
  • Motor barge conversion 1954, later used as a timber lighter by Browns.
  • Re-rigged in 1965 by Richard Walsh as a barge yacht.
  • Used as a house barge in the Netherlands in 1970's.
  • Hulked in the Netherlands.
  • Other owners include London and Rochester Trading Company and Dr. Murphy (1968). Photo 1954 inside cover Tps’l 35
Further History:

Along with two other Whitstable barges (the Why Not and W H Randall), she was hit and sunk by a Cunarder on the Thames in 1923. Her skipper, (Walter Kelsey) and mate (William Kelsey) were rescued from the water by skipper of the Why Not. Kathleen was presumably raised and repaired. Details of the tragedy are given on our Barge Rescue 1923 page

Kathleen at the AR&P boatyard in 1953

Washed off the slip at the boatyard of Anderson, Rigden and Perkins during the flood of 1953. She damaged some of the boatyard buildings. The story is related by John Wraight in our Barges in Flood page. John's photo above shows Kathleen ready for re-launch after the disaster...

Latest Info:

Some stories have cropped up regarding the vessel. It appears that her wheel was salvaged from Holland... to serve as the symbol for Chaffcutter books. The story is given at their web site at:

The Kathleen is also mentioned at the Thames Sailing Barge Organisation web site at:

This site mentions that barge plans for the Kathleen were published in the book "Spritsail Barges of Thames and Medway" by Edgar J. March (ISBN 0 7154 4681 4)

Lord Churchill (Faversham)
Official. No. 94389
  • 'Dolly' Nicholls
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1888 by Harvey at Littlehampton as a ketch of 60 tons, 84' 6" L.O.A., beam 21' 1", depth 6' 9".
  • Worked to the Rhine and the West Country under original owners, English & Continental Shipping Co.
  • Rerigged as a spritsail barge 1901 when bought by the Whitstable Shipping Company (latterly absorbed into Daniels) for use in Channel trade.
  • Skippered by 'Dolly' Nicholls around WW1.
  • Sold for a yacht conversion, then used as a house barge at Cubitt's yacht basin from 1964, and Whitewall Creek circa 1985.
  •  Other owners include Hawkins. Bow detail p.49, Tps’l 19
Latest Info:

Status unknown

Major (Harwich)
Official. No. 105424
  • George Baker, followed by...
  •  George Faint
  • Jack & Peter Josh.
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1897 at Harwich as a boomie of 67 tons for Groom’s.
  • Hatches were narrow with wide deck walks. Fitted with a coaster type centre pawl windlass (river barges had side pawl windlasses). Spent much of her early years in Channel trade.
  • Livery at one time was tarred hull, royal blue rails and transom with gold sheer lines and scrolls, the insides of the rails being bright green. The name on the bow was in gold set upon a green flag. Blocks and crosstrees were silver.
  • Converted to a spritsail barge in 19??.
  • Requisitioned as a munitions barge during WW2 and returned to her owners in poor condition.
  • Broke away from her moorings in September, 1946 at Whitstable and ran onto the beach. As a result, in 1948, she had a major refit at Anderson’s of Whitstable including an auxiliary conversion and being doubled.
  • Skippers with Daniel’s after WW2 were George Baker, followed by George Faint. Carried a wheelhouse in 1950’s.
  • Sunk in the Thames estuary, 29 September 1962.
  • Other owners include Chaplin, and Anderson & Co.

Note: Groom used landmarks in his career as names for his barges - Major, Justice, Mayor and Alderman. Dannebrog marked his receipt of the Danish distinction of that name.

Latest Info:

Sunk in the Thames on 29 September 1962

Northdown (London)
Official. No. 148654
  • Not known
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1924 by Anderson Rigden at Whitstable for Burleys, 86 tons.
  • 2nd in 1929 Thames Match Race, winner 1929 and 3rd 1938 Medway events, coasting class.
  • Motor barge conversion 1942.
  • Re-rigged 1972 for use as a static reception barge in St. Katherine’s Dock by Wrightson, who bought her in 1970.
  • Laid up at Faversham 1986.
  • Other owners include Whiting Bros. (1939), London and Rochester Trading Company, and Galbraith.
  • Bow detail p.21 Tpsl 30
Latest Info:

This barge is mentioned on the Thames Sailing Barge web site at:

She is last reported as being an exhibit at le Port Musee, Duarnenez, France.

Pretoria (Faversham)
Official. No. 114454
  • Charlie Frake
  • Chris Merritt
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1902 by Cremer's at Hollowshore, Oare Creek Faversham for their own fleet, 44 tons
  • Merged into Faversham Freightage Company after WW2 and then into Daniel's fleet.
  • Skippers include Charlie Frake.
  • Barge yacht conversion 1954.
  • House barge in Colliers Reach, 1980's.
  • Hulked in Colliers Reach 1986. No trace in 1994.
  • Owners include Horncastle.
Latest Info:

No trace since 1994

Savoy (Dover)
Official. No. 114454
  • Norman (Nornie) Coleman who lived on Island Wall.
  • Later George Fryer with son (Alf) as mate
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1898 by Gill at Rochester for Crundall's, 69 tons.
  • Had the misfortune of having a 10 ton block of stone slip from the strop of a crane and go right through her bottom! The keelson was repaired with another placed on top and the ceiling doubled. Prior to this her sides had already been doubled.
  • Crundall's skippers include Bill 'Gooseberry' Foster who took her on regular trips to the continent between Hook of Holland and St. Malo.
  • Sold to Daniel's 1924.
  • In 1942, she was skippered by George Fryer with son Alf as mate.
  • Still trading with Daniel's in 1954.
  • Run down 1961, raised and sold out of trade.
  • Converted for use as a house barge at Wouldham and subsequently broken up there.
  • Note: davits were on port side. Bow badge detail p. 44, Tpsl 28. Good photo centre Tpsl 30.
Latest Info:

Broken up at Wouldham

Spartan (London)
Official. No. 1109990
  • Not known
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built J.G. Fay, Woolston, Southampton for Goldsmith. Steel hull 85.3ft x 21.6ft x 6.4ft.
  • Broken up at Rochester 1972.
Latest Info:

Broken up at Rochester 1972 (Note: Believed owned at one time by the London Rochester Trading Company (LRTC).

The photo below was kindly supplied by Tony Stroud and shows Spartan alongside the North Quay at Whitstable harbour in the late 1950s or early 1960s...

Xylonite at Whitstable harbour in late 1950s/early 1960s
Thomas and Frances (Rochester)
Official. No. 78527
  • Horace Kelsey (skipper)
  • Chris Merritt ( skipper in 1935)
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1878 by W. B. Spencelaugh at Crown Quay, Sittingbourne for use in the hoy trade
  •  37 tons, 74' L.O.A., beam 14' 6", hold depth 5' 0" .
  • Sold in 1916 to Daniel's where a some time skipper was Horace Kelsey. Chris Merritt was her skipper in 1935.
  • She was stripped of most of her gear in 1939 for possible use as a harbour blockship.
  • Laid up by 1944 at Whitstable and cannibalised to keep others in the fleet working.
  • Hulked at Murston Quay.
  • Other owners include Honey and Dan.
Latest Info:

John Harman once related the detailed end of the Thomas & Frances. In the late 1940s and for some years, she rested in a derelict state in the corner of the East Quay. In 1951, she was towed as a hulk to the South Bank in London to be used at the FESTIVAL of BRITAIN. It is believed that she was eventually part of a fireworks display and was finally burnt. As John pointed out, many old boats ended their days as entertainment in this way.

Trilby (Dover)
Official. No. 91829
  • Chris Merritt (skipper) & son Colin (mate) circa 1950
History/Description by Michael Land and John White:
  • Built1896 by Felton at Sandwich for John B Joyce, 53 tons,
  • Spritsail rigged, used as a hoy barge.
  • Legend on Transom reads “Triby Sandwich Port of Dover”
  • Sold to East Kent Brewery, then to Daniel's in 1924 for work in the grain trade.
  • Salvaged after being stranded on Buxey Sand 1st January 1944.
  •  Later converted to a motor barge, as well as increasing her length and beam as a twin screw motor barge at Sittingbourne in 1947
  •  Skippered by Chris Merritt around 1950 with his son Colin as mate.
  • Latterly used as a house barge at Cheyne Walk in 1954.
  • Derelict at Watermans Park Brentford and broken up in 1963. [MNL 1899: Topsail17*: Topsail 20*: Us Bargemen: Spritsailed Barges of Thames & Medway*: MNL 1916: : Last Berth:]
Latest Info:

The Trilby was broken up in 1963.

Vicunia (London)
Official. No. 135159
  • Horace Kelsey with brother Alf as mate
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1912 by Shrubsall at East Greenwich for their own fleet, 75 tons.
  • Also owned by Daniel's, where her skippers included Horace Kelsey with brother Alf as mate.
  • Converted to an auxiliary in 1940 with a Kelvin 66 h.p. engine.
  • Converted to a full motor barge with the addition of a second engine in the late 1940's when all of her sailing gear was taken out.
  •  During her later years she was owned jointly with Harold Andrews of Sittingbourne.
  • Sold to absentee French owners, she was laid up at Heybridge.
  • Still afloat (just!) at Heybridge Basin in the spring of 1995, she was towed out onto the saltings at Maldon Promenade Creek and burnt.
  • Other owners include G. Andrews (1932), London and Rochester Trading Company (1958), and G. Swift (1967).
Latest Info:

Burned at Maldon Promenade Creek in 1995

Violet (Maldon)
Official. No. 96482
  • Fred Pettitt (pre-1939)
  • Chris Merritt
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1889 by Howard's at Maldon, a stackie of 45 tons, for William E. Bentall, an Essex ironfounder.
  • Distinguished by a carved badge of oak leaves on her bows. Identical barge to Hyacinth (1889) from the same builder.
  • Sold to George Littlebury of Colchester in 1894. She was then sold to E. Marriage & Son of East Mills, Colchester, and then sold on again to Francis & Gilder's.
  • Later became one of Daniel's fleet, where her skippers included Fred Pettitt pre-1939.
  • Laid up in 1951.
  • Last known as a barge yacht.
Latest Info:

Last known as a barge yacht at Brambletree Wharf. Details not available

Note: A barge called "VIOLET" is mentioned in the "Active Barge" section of the The Barge Trust web site at....

She is reported to be on the Medway but has "not been underway for 20 years or more". However, several barges are known to have been named "Violet".

W H Randall
Official. No. 75272
  • Not Known
History/Description by John White:
  • Built 1876 at Sittingbourne for William Randall.
  • 44 Reg Tons, Spritsail rigged
  • Other Owners Include: Thomas Spillett of Ramsgate in 1893, Whitstable Shipping Co. in 1899 & 1916, Daniels Bros. of Whitstable 1916
  • In 1923, she was hit by the Cunarder SS Virgilia near Greenwich. Towed ashore and broken up at Whitstable. [MNL 1893: MNL1899: MNL1916: East Coast Sail*: Last Berth: ]

Note: Three Whitstable barges were damaged in that collision with the SS Virgilia. The others were the Kathleen and the Why Not. The Kathleen was sunk but the Why Not suffered only minor damage. The W H Randall was towed to port in a sinking condition. Details of the tragedy are given on our Barge Rescue of 1923 page

Why Not?
Official. No. 52901 
  • George James Packman of Albert Street ( See our Barge Rescue of 1923 page)
  • Jack 'Farmer' Packman with Alf Kelsey as mate.
History/Description by John White:
  • Built 1866 at Faversham by J Usher of Faversham for his own use.
  • 38 Reg Tons, Spritsail rigged
  • Sold to Whitstable Shipping Co. in 1890s. Then owned by Daniels Bros of Whitstable in 1916.
  • Broken up 1938 at Rosherville, Northfleet.
  • Ran aground off West Beach, Whitstable with a cargo of Quaker Oats.
  • One of three Whitstable barges involved in a collision with the Cunarder 'Virgilia' near Greenwich on 6th March, 1923. Why Not received only light damage to her stern. The s.b. Kathleen was sunk, and s.b. W.H. Randall damaged. The Cunarder continued on her voyage of destruction into Talbot's barge roads, damaging several lighters and setting others adrift, before running herself ashore by Wood's Wharf.
  • Sometime in WW2 a plane from No. 63 R.A.F. Training Squadron based at Joyce Green, flying very low over Long Reach crashed onto her deck. The pilot was killed and the observer injured. Why Not's standing rigging and spars were badly damaged but, fortunately, a tug from the Cory Company was nearby and lashed her alongside to tow her to the shore where she was beached.
  • Ended her days at Black Jack's, Rosherville where a recluse built a bulkhead in her hold and lived aboard her for a number of years. O.S. Ref: TQ.625.747. Master Lissenden 31/03/1901. [1901 Census: MNL 1893: MNL1899: Barge Builders of the Swale: East Coast Sail: Sprits’l: Us Bargemen: Last Berth: ]

Note: Details of the collison with SS Virgilia are given on our Barge Rescue of 1923 page


Xylonite (Harwich)
Official. No. 145408
  • Not a locally owned vessel
History/Description by Michael Land:
  • Built 1926 by Mistley Shipbuilding Co. at Mistley for F. W. Horlock
  • Steel hull of 68 tons
  • First master was Theophilus Horlock (grandfather of Theo Horlock). Her name was changed on the day of launching from B.X. to Xylonite.
  • Still in Horlock's ownership in 1949.
  • Converted to a motor barge in the 1950's.
  • Sold to Greenhithe Lighterage in 1955
  • Since rerigged by Tim Eliff as a full sailing barge and a regular East Coast Match Race competitor, as well as a charter barge.
  •  Other owners include Tester.
  • Sold to the Cirdan Trust in 1985 and deployed as a community service barge based at Maldon.
Latest Info:

Sold by the  Cirdan Trust to new owners in 2007 and based at Maylandsea.

Page 1 of 1