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Sailing barge ‘Westmoreland’ – Latest update, 17-2-12

Following the high of saving the last surviving brick barge, ‘Westmoreland’, from her doomed fate at Standard Quay, the project has experienced an uncertain time over the past year.

The barge’s initial saviour, Colin Frake, secured her short term future by allowing the ‘Westmoreland’ to reside in his dry dock, based at Otterham Quay. However, before the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund could be completed, a secure, long term berth was required.

Colin Frake initially saved the barge following this heart-breaking accident

Her home berth throughout her trading life of 60 years was Lower Halstow and it was hoped that this could be the place for her resurrection. Unfortunately, initial enquiries were not met with great enthusiasm by all and so it seemed that the Kentish mudflats would become her last home after all.

However, following a final plea to the Parish Council, a public consultation was suggested, with the mood from the meeting to be used to influence the Council’s final decision.

This meeting was held aboard the Edith May in Lower Halstow dock on Thursday 16th February, with a presentation by Geoffrey Gransden on the history of the barge, what she is to the village and how her restoration would unfold.

Over 40 villagers turned out, with the Mayor and Mayoress of Swale, Cllr Ben Stokes also in attendance. At the end of the meeting, there was overwhelming support for the ‘Westmoreland’, with some passionate pleas to save the barge and bring her ‘home’ to Halstow.

Sue Davies and Mayor of Swale Ben Stokes discuss the future of the 'Westmoreland'

A show of hands confirmed that almost unanimously those in attendance wished for the project to go ahead in the dock and we now hope that the Parish Council will listen to the people and give the ‘Westmoreland’ their full support.

This being the case, ‘Westmoreland’ could return to Halstow within months and she could be sailing her home waters for the first time in 40 years by 2016.

A visitor’s book has been opened aboard the ‘Edith May’ for people to write their thoughts about the ‘Westmoreland’. Comments added to this blog post will also be included.

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