Historic barge catches the tide of Gravesend’s River Thames revival

PUBLISHED: 14:05 29 December 2010

Restorer William Collard

Restorer William Collard


New moorings on the river will allow an historic sailing barge to visit the borough as part of a floating education project following a £1.4 million restoration.

On January 10 Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet is to decide whether to invest £20,500 on four new moorings off St Andrew’s Gardens where ships can stop right next to the shore in town.

The famous sailing barge Cambria, the last UK registered vessel to trade cargo solely under sail, is expected to be a regular visitor.

Currently being restored in Faversham, it will be used as a floating classroom for school trips when work on the craft finishes at the end of next year. Restoration will not include fitting an engine so she will remain a truly carbon-free form of transport.

Gravesham Borough Council leader Mike Snelling said: “This is a tremendous idea and confirms once again our commitment to reviving the river as a focal point for this borough.

“Along with the pontoon this will provide a growing number of interesting and useful facilities underlining the historic and continuing importance of the river to Gravesend.”

The Cambria project includes provision for activities involving youth clubs and sail training and under proposals could be moored at Gravesend two weeks a year.

Other ships of interest would also be able to use the new St Andrew’s Quay – the proposed name for the moorings.

Council bosses hope there will also be a pontoon at the end of the historic Town Pier and is negotiating to bring cruise liners to the borough and a floating hotel for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as river taxis.

The Cambria project is run by William Collard, from Meopham. He said: “We are very excited about this project. The next nearest big restoration project is the Cutty Sark but that isn’t going to sail, whereas Cambria is.

“Cambria is probably the most important true sailing ship restoration being carried out in the UK. It’s 91ft long, is very famous and has national significance. It’s a bit special.”

The Cambria Trust received a £990,000 heritage lottery grant in 2007 to realise the project.

Funding for the moorings comes from Gravesham Borough Council’s corporate priorities reserve

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