The 85ft steel barge Melissa was built at Southampton by Fay in 1899 for EJ & W Goldsmith, of Grays. The Melissa, one of 28 barges Goldsmith’s had built in two years, carried 150 tons of cargo with a crew of two and with this advantage Goldsmith’s could under cut the freight rates, putting several smaller barge owners out of business. During World War II, the Melissa was sold to the London & Rochester Trading Co and in about 1944 they converted her to a motor barge. Later she had been sold for scrap when Capt Osborne and Capt Richard Duke bought her and, between 1970-75, she was in the Landguard Point-Ipswich ballast trade.
The Webbs rebuilt Melissa over a long period at their Pin Mill yard. They made the stern a foot higher and a layout for passengers with small narrow hatches, a well (cockpit) in the after end of the main hatch with three tiered seating. They put in two 90hp diesels and made the rudder nine inches deeper than the hull so that she could be turned easily. Her windlass, wheel and other deck fittings came off the wooden barge Venture whose hulk as now been lying in the mud at Pin Mill for over 20 years. The Melissa is skippered by Jonathan Webb and the barge carries 12 people on day charters.