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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.

7 Responses to “Sailing barge ‘Westmoreland’ – Latest update, 17-2-12”
  1. Please support this campaign. The Thames barges played a vital part in the economic, agricultural and cultural development of the South and East of England.They also serve as a “Living” reminder that we were not always reliant on road transport and that there may still be an alternative.
    “Stackies” have been seen laden with their deck cargos of straw in recent years, would it not be a fine sight to see a “Brickie” with a house load of bricks showing the way things used to be done?

  2. Nick Ardley says:

    A letter from Essex: I heard of this with supreme interest.
    If there is one last spritsail barge that should be saved, it is this one: she is the last of a long line of specifically built brick barges which transported the bricks up the Thames to build London. Many men and women resting in the churchyards around Lower Halstow would have worked in the brickfields, dug mud and clay, or loaded the Westmoreland and her sisters.
    My own memories of Westmoreland’s fine Conyer built lines go back to around 1961 when I first remember seeing her logo ‘Eastwoods Brickmakers’ painted on her sails as she passed my parents’ barge, the May Flower, out on the Medway during a barge match.
    Swale and Lower Halstow in particular, have a unique opportunity to carry this project through, capably managed by people who know the ropes. The barge is a living part of the physiology of your beautiful part of Kent, do not, please, throw it aside, it’s far too important.

  3. […] Sailing barge ‘Westmoreland’ – Latest update, 17-2-12 | Edith May …Feb 17, 2012 … The barge’s initial saviour, Colin Frake, secured her short term … Colin Frake initially saved the barge following this heart-breaking accident … April 4th, 2012 | […]

  4. Kate Forwood says:

    Surely there is an obligation for us all to be guardians to these regal souls? These are ‘troubled’ times that we live in so what better sight to gladden a weary heart than to see one or more of these grand Dames in full sail. Even more heartening is to see the enthusiasm of those who wish to rescue and restore.Westmoreland represents the spirit of Lower Halstow and every effort is needed by the Parish Council to keep that spirit alive.

  5. John Horner says:

    Im so pleased to hear the good news thaat the westmoreland is to be restored. I have recently been writing about my time spent on the barges with my father Ken horner. he sailed westmoreland for the Thames Barge Sailing Club on several occasions. she is indeed unique as being the last of eastwoods brick barges still afloat. The last barge they had working was the Durham. She was used to carry mud to their brick making yards at halstow.

  6. Robyn says:

    It would be fantastic if the Westmoreland could be restored. My Great Grandfather Victor Wadhams was her skipper many years ago, when i saw the state she was in whilst at Faversham it brought tears to my eyes.

  7. Leigh Foweraker says:

    Message for Robyn.I knew of your Grandfather as he was very good friends with my father Lew foweraker who was also a skipper of Westmoreland.It broke his heart the day that novices took Westmoreland and broke her back.

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