The 81ft Dawn, a ‘heritage’ sailing barge with an open hold and tiller-steered, took out trips last summer for people who had helped the barge.
This included ten former skippers and descendants of her original owner James Keeble. He had hired an abandoned shipyard at Maldon and commissioned Walter Cook to build a beamy ‘stackie’ with long chines to grip the water when going up creeks when the leeboards couldn’t be used.
In 1897, Walter Cook had dug away the river wall at Maldon so that he could launch the Dawn, his first barge. However, the hull got stuck and they had to dig out more and she was launched the following day. Cook went on to build Lord Roberts, also tiller steered, and British King both now gone.
A tiller-steered barge can’t have high davits for its boat and the old stackies used to have low davits, although old photographs usually show them towing the boat or carrying the boat on the hatch top.
Because stackies returned with animal muck, the hulls were liable to rot and the Dawn had to be rebuilt in 1928. She was rebuilt again at Heybridge by Tim Goldsack and relaunched in 2007.
The original flat bottom and a transom that had been renewed about 40 years earlier had survived.