Success… Thames Sailing Barges make river Thames history at their first ever parade event 17th September 2016.
When magnificent river events come to the Thames in such magnitude as the Thames Sailing Barge Parade (TSBP), our country is reminded of its nautical history.. The event was a truly sensational spectacle that had even the Port of London Authority saying to the organisers, ‘congratulations on a well organised event that went off as planned’.

Article written by Charity Needs Foundation.

The Thames Sailing Barge Parade into the Upper Pool of London happened at the busiest time of the day for the river and its authority the PLA, but so well planned was its execution that the Cutty Sark organisation, Royal Museums Greenwich, who will be celebrating 150 years in 2019, approached TSBP organisers to discuss any particular hurdles they may need to overcome in clearing such an event on the Thames.
The Lord Mayor of London who is the admiral of the Port of London spent the day onboard Sailing Barge Lady Daphne and later on in the evening at West India Dock where the barges became a live Popup Museum.

Thames Sailing Barges docked at West India Dock, the location for the parad
Picture by: Jonathan Fleming (

Every season Thames Sailing Barges compete in a number of barge matches around the Southeast Coast of England culminating in a championship winner, however, especially because of the barges historic event on the Thames in 2016, the Lord Mayor of London presented the Championship Cup to winner Pete Sands of Sailing Barge Niagara, quoting that he himself had a marvelous day and even laid way for the next Lord Mayor to join the barges on parade at the next TSBP event.

TSBP supporters, The Shipowners Club who had been celebrating 160 years in business with close ties to Thames Sailing Barges gave out laminates containing details of the best vantage points, a brief history and expandable binoculars to the vast crowds that turned up along the south and north banks.
TSBP Popup Museum at West India Dock, a view from across the dock.
Picture by: Ian Smith (

In the build up, however, The Shipowners Club didn’t have it easy helping the parade event, their biggest challenge was confirmation from the PLA that the parade could go ahead. Marketing and Events Coordinator, Jessica Swallow, said, “we had to put some plans on hold and adapt plans and have a 'backup' option in case the parade was not confirmed. This meant that the communications was not initially as clear as it could have been when telling people about the event”.

Regardless of the difficulties, Jessica said of The Shipowners’ Club support, “it received a lot of interest from our contacts and people seemed impressed that we were supporting the Thames barges”.
Jessica also reported that, The Shipowners Club would be prepared to support the event again on a biannual basis.
One of the key points of getting the parade plan cleared by the PLA was how to safely turn all the barges from stemming a strong ebb tide at London Bridge in order to proceed outward bound for Tower Bridge. It was an execution that needed to be swift and precise with the help of tug boats. Livetts Launches (, based at Butlers wharf, did a fantastic job of making this detail look like an everyday task, thanks to the parade plan of Gary Diddams and Gerald Gadd, along with the charitable support given by managing director of Livetts launches, Chris Livett. Left foreground - Jessica Swallow and left background Samantha Stevenson of The Shipowners Club. Right foreground: Jane Harman of TSBP.
Painting at the head of the table is of Sailing Barge Cabby.
Picture by: Jonathan Fleming (

And charity is what this was all about, founding organiser Jonathan Fleming of Charity Needs (.com), a charity that promotes and markets voluntary sector organisations throughout the UK, was tasked with helping the newly formed non-profit, TSBF (Thames Sailing Barge Foundation), to build public awareness and establish a higher profile for the barges and its community, that they might attract volunteers and donors or find it easier to attain necessary funds in the future to keep these vessels in seagoing condition. He acknowledged that none of this would have been possible without the help of The Queen Pageant Master, Adrian Evans, now director of Thames Festival Trust who runs the Totally Thames Festival each year throughout the whole month of September, since it was he who helped TSBP organisers gain direct access to the PLA to lay out their ambitious plans for the Thames Sailing Barge Parade event.
The 120+ year old Thames Sailing Barges in the Upper Pool between Tower Bridge and London Bridge awaiting to be turned in order to head outward bound towards Tower Bridge for West India Dock where the barges became a live Popu Museum.
Picture by: Jonathan Fleming (

No ambitious project, even if successful, ever runs as smooth as intended or without incident, after the Popup Museum closed on Sunday 18th September at West India Dock, Jonathan Fleming called a community meeting asking if there were any disappointments to the parade itself or the Popup Museum and the overwhelming consensus was, “this is just what the community needed and we now need to build on it” voiced by Richard Titchener a sailing barge skipper who first rooted for the event, then turned away both his help and support for it in the run up prior to witnessing its great success on the day, and now in full support, offering fabulous ideas for the event to go forwards.
Other positive encouragements followed from Simon Devonshire of Sailing Barge Marjorie and David Pollock of Sailing Barge Repertor with David highlighting the only disappointment from the group. David wanted to see more of the authentic trade goods that the barges carried in their heyday on show at the Popup Museum, but overall the meeting culminated in everyone present, agreeing that the event was a hit that needs to be done again.
Andy Harman, skipper of sailing barge Edme whom originally invited Jonathan Fleming into the sailing barge community said, “one of the biggest challenges seemed to be commitment from the barge community maybe concerned about the logistics of being in the centre of London, with it such a harsh unforgiving place and very commercial.
My biggest frustration was barges initially keen and stating what a good idea to then change their minds and not participate.”
The relaxed atmosphere of skippers and crews waiting for the lock to drop 20 foot prior to being released for the parade.
Picture by: Jonathan Fleming (

Throughout the sailing barge season the barges are mainly in competition with each other and this event showed the community what value the public placed on them and their barges. Andy Harman revealed, “I liked the relaxed friendly atmosphere in West India Dock, because it wasn't competitive. Those barges and crews were there because they wanted to be involved, so the atmosphere was very relaxed, especially after the parade. Being in the lock on Saturday prior to the parade there was a lovely sociable and excited feeling all being together with a common purpose, all pulling together rather than just doing your own thing.”
End of Parade Lady Daphne heading back to West India Dock with the Lord Mayor of London on board.
Picture by: Nigel Pepper (

Jane Harman (co-organiser) remarked, “organising such a large event for the first time was a huge challenge, but well worth it for it to have been such a positive success”. Jane also got praised for her organisation of the Popup Museum from Tricia Gurnett of the Society for Sailing Barge Research (SSBR) who sold more books and signed up more new members than at any previous event they had.
Although the parade event was hailed a huge success, TSBF still have expenses to meet and need to draw in donations to clear their debts which can be done or at
Any surplus funds that TSBF find themselves with will go towards repairs and maintenance of all the barges or towards funding the next parade event to keep the profile of the barges in its new heightened state, so please donate regardless.
Engineless Sailing Barge Edme being towed past the Thames Barrier by Sailing Barge Melissa.
Picture by: Jonathan Fleming (

In calling for greater support, Jonathan Fleming commented, “It would be invaluable for TSBF to be able to get more of the charity and trust owned barges at the parade as it was noticed that those present were all privately owned barges. This is an area that needs to be worked on. It seems the charity and trust owned barges do have a hard time raising funds to function their vessels, particularly for an event like this where they would raise their profile and perhaps find volunteers, funding or both”.

This is a CNF Feature Article

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Head/Cover picture by: Head image by: Nigel Pepper (
Head/Cover image description: Stemming a strong ebb tide at London Bridge waiting to be turned by tug boats in the Upper Pool.
Article written by: Charity Needs Foundation
Article edited by: Charity Needs Foundation
Article Length: Words count is 1307 from 7715 characters
Released — 07-01-2019 - 08:46
Modified — Never


  • The Next Parade Event:
    September 2019 (T.B.C.)

  • Contact TSBP:
    Jane Harman @ Thames Sailing Barge Parade .com

  • Donations:
    Send donations direct to TSBF/TSBP through our PayPal account: TSBP PayPal Account
    Your donation will help to keep alive the parade event and thus in doing so will prompt support, awareness and funding from other sources

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