We were delighted to build the first new steel Thames barge since 1930 for the Essex-based Sea-Change Trust who provide action centred learning and seamanship training to disadvantaged and socially excluded young people.
The 26m barge is a replica of an original Thames sailing barge named ‘Blue Mermaid’ which was lost in World War II.
We built the steel hull and deck and then arranged for the barge to be towed to Maldon in Essex to be fitted with masts, sails and accommodation.
Photographers Laura Bailey and Gemma of Falmouth University covered this project and you can see more of their pictures of the build in the Thames Barge gallery on our Facebook page.
Here’s Jim and Luke laying the girders for the base plate of the barge to lie on.
Here the base plates are in place and we’re getting to see how flat bottomed she is and just how long she will be.
A completely different shape to the fishing boats we usually build!
October 2015 – the frames are being installed and we are starting to get a feel for the height of the boat.
This is a picture of the bow section.
This picture was taken in November 2015 and shows the deck being installed.
It also shows the scale of the vessel and how much it is filling our building shed.
This is one of the photographs taken in late February 2016.
The hull plating is virtually complete as the team concentrate on the inside of the hull.
May 2016 and painting of the barge is underway ahead of her launch.
The main building shed is dismantled for the barge to be moved onto the slipway.
The launch of Blue Mermaid took place on 28th May.
It was attended by local dignitaries including Mike Wood, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Jane Hartley, High Sheriff of Cornwall and Sheryll Murray MP joined visitors from Essex and the South East plus friends and boatyard staff for the launch party.
After speeches by Mike Wood and Allen Toms and a blessing by Canon John Halkes, the Trust’s Chairman Hilary Halajko named the vessel Blue Mermaid. Blue Mermaid is a replica of a barge of the same name which was hit by a mine in World War II with the loss of her skipper and mate, Percy Bird and George Lucas. Bird and Lucas are commemorated at the Merchant Navy’s war memorial at Tower Hill and their grandchildren and great grandchildren were in Polruan for the launch.
A reception for Blue Mermaid took place in Maldon, Essex on July 7th.
Here she is alongside the other Thames barges based there.
Sea-Change have now taken her to the Downs Road boatyard further upstream from where this photo was taken where she will be fitted out and her mast installed.