By Martin Hazell
(Shire, Paperback, 9780747804925, 32pp.)
Publication Date: November 22, 2011
List Price: $11.95*
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In 1900 the majority of British shipping was still under sail. Today in Europe the sailing cargo boat is a thing of the past. However, the River Thames spritsail sailing barge, as a cargo carrier, survived until the very end of the age of sail, and these vessels are still to be seen sailing under charter for sail training and leisure activities. More than two thousand of these barges were trading at the commencement of the First World War. They still survive in some numbers today, cared for by enthusiasts. This book is intended as a general introduction to sailing barges - it tells a little of their history, shows the main parts of the modern sailing barge and summarises the activities of the barges and those who sail them today. The south-east coast of England is the barge's traditional home and mention is made of the barge centres and races. A number of quite rare historical pictures are included.
Martin Hazell first became interested in sailing barges during his last term at school when he went with a school party to Maldon for a sailing week and discovered these vessels. Later, he was for a period on the committee of the Thames Barge Sailing Club and is a member of the Society for Spiritsail Barge Research. He is now a teacher and is particularly interested in the staging of historical pageants - and collaborated with the English Folk dance and Song Society in presenting a song, music and dance drama representation of the English Civil War at the Albert hall. He has collected material on the Lee and Stort Navigations in Hertfordshire and has contributed articles to specialist and local journals.