Since she was rebuilt in 2011, the mulie barge Cambria has been based in Kent, but in September, after her charter to Sea-Change ended, the Cambria was moved to Pin Mill.
Two of her former skippers, ‘Cully’ Tovell and Bob Roberts had lived here. The coasting barge Cambria carried her last cargo under sail in 1970, but it was comparatively recently, in 1997, that Ton Brouwer’s klipper Albatros, a Dutch ketch, took her last cargo of soya bean meal from Ghent, Belgium to Wells next the Sea in Norfolk.
In 2002, the Edme, which had no engine, loaded 53 tons of stone in bags at Fingringhoe. The following year, the Cygnet loaded a straw deck cargo at Snape, and again in 2011. The barge Dawn took a stack load of straw from the Salcott Creek, River Blackwater to London. The PLA sent a boat to follow her up the Thames in case she caught fire.
Work is continuing well on fitting out Sea-Change’s new spritsail barge Blue Mermaid at Downs Road yard in Maldon. Apparently, the engineless barge will be able to carry about 40 tons and have berths for five people. It‘s intended to be a continuation of the seven steel barges that Horlocks built at Mistley between 1924-30.
The original barge, Blue Mermaid, was blown up by a mine during World War II, but her sister ship the Resourceful is now a café at Maldon. These were the last full-size barges build to trade. Whilst the Resourceful was the last barge registered, the original Blue Mermaid was, in fact, the last of the Mistley barges to be built to date. Iolo Brooks’ steel barge Adieu, built by Horlocks in 1929, and looking very smart in black, is probably today the most alike to the magnificent new Blue Mermaid.