Unlike many rivals, the London & Rochester Barge Company kept faith with timber construction for their sailing barges until building of the genre ceased around 1930. Not surprising perhaps, as their Quarry Yard at Frindsbury, where the firm’s barges were repaired and maintained, had been established by others in the mid – 1700s who had built well over 100 wooden sailing barges there.
It was in 1922 that the sailing barge Pudge joined the extensive London & Rochester fleet, launched from their Quarry Yard into the River Medway, her holds ready for the vagaries of the coasting trade, oblivious of her future and her heroics at Dunkirk.
Unlike most of her type, she was not to be broken-up, abandoned, or linger on as a houseboat when her trading days were done. Pudge was acquired out of trade in 1968 by the Thames Barge Sailing Club, progressively restored to her former glory, and has remained under sail for many years longer than when carrying cargo. In 2022 she celebrates her centenary. This is her story.
Foreword by Hannah Cunliffe, Director of National Historic Ships UK