A Sailing Barge at Lewes

I’ve commented before on my Dad’s interest in almost everything and here’s a case in point. In August 1954 Dad snapped this picture.

The scene is the River Ouse just on the downstream side of Lewes, county town of East Sussex. The famous cliff is on the right – scene of the awful tragedy of December 1836. Amazingly, it wasn’t so much a cliff collapse as an avalanche of snow which crashed down the cliff destroying a row of cottages and killing eight people.

Let’s lighten the mood. One of my favourite spoof book titles, remembered from childhood was, ‘The Cliff Tragedy’ by Eileen Dover.

And now back to the photo where all looks calm, still and a tad grey on this August 1954 day. Holding centre stage is a sailing barge. I’m sure dad would have taken this shot knowing their days were numbered. Now I’m not an expert on sailing barges – different styles were adopted for specific circumstances in different parts of the country – but I think this is a Thames sailing barge. Do tell me if I’m wrong.

They do still exist although whether any really carry cargo, I don’t know. My dad hired one in 1975 as part of an Industrial Archaeology Course he was running. I was there! We set sail from Malden in Essex.

That’s dad at the helm

A group of ‘passengers’ go ashore on the tender. That’s the Thames sailing barge (she was called Dawn) in the background

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One Response to “A Sailing Barge at Lewes”

  1. Gerard Swift Says:

    Hi, just came across your blog and was surprized to see a very young me in the picture above. My father Gordon Swift owned the sailing barge Dawn and I was the mate. For an update on Dawn check out her website http://www.dawn-trust.org.uk . She was completely rebuilt with a lottery grant and in 2011 she once again carried a cargo of hay from Essex to London for a BBC 1 programme Lost Routes of Britain with Griff Rhys Jones.
    all the best Gerard Swift

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