Greenwich Built Barges


Volunteer. Converted at East Greenwich in 1914. New auxiliary engine after First World War – 35-hp Thorneycroft engine. Gardiner electrical lighting plants and bathroom, etc. Went round the European ports.

orinoco at hoo once more
Orinoco at Hoo Marina. 2001

Orinoco. Built for Mason, cement manufacturer of Waldingfield. Bought by Cranfield Bros. and based in Ipswich, retaining the white ball on the topsail, which became their mark. Auxiliary Ruston 80 engine fitted. Wrecked taken to Greenhithe and then patched up by Laurie Tester of Greenhithe Lighterage Co and restored as a yacht barge at Faversham. In 1970-won the Queen’s Jubilee barge match. Stranded ashore and refitted in 1990 as yacht based at Hoo with Robert Deards as racing skipper.

Scud. 64-ton barge, 85.2. x 21 x 65ft. Built Nortons themselves and then passed to James Peppercorn, then to Burley of Sittingbourne and eventually broken up Churchfields Wharf, Milton Creek in 1980. Had been repaired by Shrubsall.

Scudo. This was the Empress, rebuilt by Norton. Originally Faversham built in 1877. 76 x 18 x. 9 x 5.5. She had been in collision in the Thames in 1908 and then sold to Nortons who rebuilt her as Scudo. Her former owner, James Beckwith of Colchester, failed to cancel her registration and she is therefore not entered as Scudo in mercantile navy lists,

Serb. 75 tons barge. Owned by R.W. Paul, with Capt .Sid Wareham and mate D. Hazleton. She loaded coal for drifters at Tilbury. In 1940 she was asked to go to the Dunkirk evacuations – she was towed to Ramsgate and bound for Dunkirk when ops were cancelled. Then her coal went over the side at Ipswich and she was laid up. Became the A.R.Green yacht in 1949 and taken to Hammersmith. She was sunk off North Foreland in 1954.


James Piper. 56-ton wooden barge. Broken up 1950s, after having been a house barge at Cheyne Walk. Had won 3rd Champion Topsail Thames 1894, 2nd Thames 1895, 3rd Thames 1896

haughty belle 2
Haughty Belle

Haughty Belle. Wooden barge specially built for E.J.Goldsmith. Had a counter stern and iron leeboards – built for racing. Won the 1896 race and 4th Medway 1897. 3rd Staysail Medway 1930, 1st Thames 1896, 3rd Thames 1897. Broken up in Cubitt Yacht Basin.

Arctic. 1978 converted by London And Rochester Trading.

Arthur Relf. 68-ton wooden barge. Now infilled at Whitewall Creek.

Gerty. Wooden barge. Broken up Millwall 1933.

Giralda. Champion of the Thames 1898. 1901,1904, 1909, Champion Medway 1898, 1900, 1903, 1904, etc. The most famous barge ever launched. Name is the tower in Seville. A half model was made and preserved by the builders. She was built for Goldsmiths of Grays for the purpose of winning the gold cup in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year. Jack Currell – the ‘genius of her building’ was the foreman at Pipers. Everyone laughed – she was straight and flat and ugly but she was built to win the gold cup- and did so under Captain Thurncard although Harry Munns had turned down the command, but she won anyway. She had cost £1,350 – she was 80ft long and 85ft on water line. Her registered tonnage 49. She had 3,000 ft of canvas, all hand made at Pipers Yard. Had a spring to her floor and a spring to her keelson so she moved deeper midships than before. There were complaints she was too light for cargo and had to go back to Pipers – she was actually too light to keep her shape and had to be strengthened. She later raced under Captain William Mitchell winning the Thames and Medway championships many times. Pipers took the barge back and in 1898 sold her to Lamer for coal and cement. In 1901 in a gale finished 5th in a race with a lot of damage. She was damaged in Ramsgate harbour and bought back by Piper in 1913. Became a mooring barge in 1928. In 1943 a piece of her timber was kept at Greenwich with an inscription on it. 2nd Medway Champion 1897, last Medway 1898, 2nd Medway 1899, 1st Medway 1900, 3rd Medway 1901, 1st Medway 1903, 1st Medway 1904, Disqualified Medway 1905, 1st Thames 1897, 1st Thames 1898, 1st Thames 1899, 1st Thames 1900, 5th Thames 1901 (broke her port leeboard and buckled starboard crosstree), 5th Thames 1902, 2nd Thames 1903, 1st Thames 1904, 1st Topsail Thames 1905, 3rd Topsail 1906, 1st Champion Topsail 1908.

Ernest Piper. 65-ton wooden barge 85.4 x 20.5 x 6.4. Owned by R& W.Goldsmiths 1919, Metcalfe Motor Coasters in 1942, and then by S.West. Sold for conversion to yacht in 1950, then at Portsmouth. Hulked at Shepherds Creek.

Maid of Connaught. 68-ton wooden barge, 85.5 x 20.7 x 5.9. Had been the Monarch. Worked for Invicta Coal and Shipping Co. Owned by Smeed Dean, W.H.Theobald and Leigh Building Supplies. Converted to a motor barge by 1935 and then a yacht. Hulked on Pin Mill Hard.
Surf. Built for Lamber to race, she was fouled in the 1900 race by Minnehaha at Tilbury. 3rd Medway 1900, 2nd Thames 1900, 7th Thames 1901, 4th Thames 1902, 7th Thames 1903.

Sportsman. 54-ton wooden barge. 11th not timed Thames 1901. Hulked Milton Creek
Surrey 49-ton wooden barge Owned by Horlock, Mistley. 2nd restricted Bowsprit? 1937, 2nd Bowsprit? 1938, 2nd special Staysail Thames 1936, 2nd restricted bowsprit Thames 1937, 1st Bowsprit Thames 1938. 1957 laid up, then hulked and broken up in Whitewall Creek.

Edgar Scholey. 56 Ton barge. Broken up after being at Cheyne Walk in the 1950s.

Surge. 54-ton barge. Surge means ‘Sure You Are Giralda’s Equal’. Owned by Augustus Hills of Annandale House, Greenwich. Won 1st Staysail 1937, 1st Staysail 1938. 5th Topsail Thames 1905, 4th special Staysail Thames 1936, 2nd Staysail Thames 1937, 2nd Staysail Thames 1938.

Brian Boru. 59-ton wooden barge owned by Pipers. Sunk in February 1950 off Southend and laid up. Broken up 1988 at Brentford.

Gwynronald. Had been the Charles Allison. 85-ton barge. Owned by West of Gravesend, 1957 owned by them and used for ballast. Became a house barge in Oare Creek.

Miranda. Sprit rigged barge yacht.

Leonard Piper. 99-ton wooden barge. Owned by Piper and then Wilkes. Sold to Samuel West in 1930. Auxiliary engine fitted in 1934 and then became a house barge at Chiswick.

M.Piper. 85 ton steel barge. Sunk March 1951 off Grain Spit, raised but not refitted. Broken up for scrap at Bloors Wharf in 1954, used for ballast. P 1914 W.Mary 1914 Piper Rebuilt, broken up Greenwich.1937. .

Pip. 88-ton barge Run down at Purfleet by a steamboat and the crew were drowned. Dismantled but lay a hulk at Greenwich, owned by T.Scholey, because engines couldn’t be delivered from Holland. Went to London And Rochester Trading in 1954 and renamed Pine, became MV Pinup.
Squeak Had been the wooden Hoy barge Dorcas- going between Sandwich and Dover with general cargoes. Built in 1898 in Rochester and called ‘hokey pokey’ because of her painted hull. Burnt out after petrol drums caught light off Woolwich and killed the skipper. Sold to Piper for £60 and had good enough timber to justify rebuilding, rebuilt and renamed Squeak as a river staysail barge. Increased to 73 tons On 24th November arrived at Sheppey Gas Works wharf in Sheerness with 160 tons coal and made fast in 9ft of water. In the morning her cabin floor was pushed up because of a mound of earth 56ft high. The Gas Company denied responsibility but judgement went against them. She was dismantled in 1948 after nearly sinking in Sea Reach, hulked and burnt Bedlam’s bottom.

Wilfred. 98 ton steel barge, 88.2 x21.3 x 6.2. Staysail river barge and the last word in modern sail barges. Owned by T.Scholey & Co. (Thames) Ltd. sold 1954 to R.Deards at Hoo. Used by London and Rochester Trading 1954 used as a motor barge in ballast work with sand from Brightlingsea Sailing gear removed 1993. Now on the Embankment as Stargate used as a wine bar and Spanish restaurant.

Canada. motor vessel

J.R.Piper. Motor barge

Peter Piper. motor barge

Piper II. motor barge

Q craft. resident barges for ballast, shallow draught, cabin with bunks and things.

Date not known
City of London. Won 2nd Thames 1881, 1st Thames 1887, 11th Thames 1897.
Fortis, racing sail barge

Kiora. Built for Westray in four months. Had cabins, a smoking room, saloon, seven state rooms bathroom and captain’s cabin

Lark. Lost at Dunkirk.

William Mary. Owned by Scholey. On the wall at Hole Haven

King. 84 x 20.6 x 6.2 First Shrubsall boat built at Greenwich for Jarvis and Daniels Bros., Whitstable. Owned by Owen Parry of Colchester. Then taken by Hibbs into the London and Rochester Trading fleet. Unrigged in the war. Became motor barge yacht in 1949 and now static at Pin Mill. Won 2nd Coasting Thames 1937

Southwark. 150-ton barge built for Wakeley Bros. Rainham. Became roads barge in 1942. Took ‘London mixture’ to farms from the markets.

Imperial. 53-ton wooden barge with a big transom and a roomy cabin. Owned by Valentine of Colchester, then Rands in 1923. Became motor barge for London and Rochester Trading. Sailed by Tommy Thompson with cement and flour. Hulked at Temple Marsh as a jetty 1957. Broken up Cubit’s Yard. Won 1st Medway 1902, 3rd Bowsprit Medway 1929, 2nd Bowsprit Medway 1930, 4th Bowsprit Medway 1931, 1st Thames 1902, 3rd river bowsprit Thames 1929,
Princess Racing barge, built for Richard Horlock, but won under Everard. 1st Medway 1909, 1st restricted Bowsprit, 1937, 1st Special Staysail, Thames 1936, 1st restricted bowsprit Thames 1937
Vireon. Owned by Shrubsall

Virona. owned by Shrubsall.

Genesta. 1903 Name of yacht, which won the Americas Cup. 54-ton barge built for Hammonds. Won matches later when owned by APCM. Sunk three times. Missing four days off Blyth and sails were ready made for her and then she sailed for Guernsey. After second sinking sold to Whiting Brothers and converted to a full motor barge in the war in the 1950s in Gas House Dock Gillingham. Wrecked off Folly Point under the Hoo fort when she had come away from Meux brewery in Pimlico laden with beer barrels. Towed to Churchfields at Milton creek and burnt. A different version says she was hulked at Greenwich with her main mast left at Pipers, and then broken up Cubit Town in 1940 after sinking at anchor. Won 3rd Medway 1903, 2nd Medway 1904, 2nd Medway 1905, 4th Topsail Medway 1906, 2nd Staysail? 1936, 3rd Champion Bowsprit? 1937. 4th Bowsprit? 1938, 3rd Topsail Thames 1905, 4th Topsail Thames 1906, 1st Staysail 1935, 2nd Staysail Thames 1936, 3rd Champion Bowsprit Thames 1937, 3rd Bowsprit Thames 1938
Duchess. 55-ton spritsail barge. Part of the fleet from Bradwell, owned by T.Scholey. At Dunkirk in 1940 under Captain Wildish. Sorted early at Dover and towed by St Abbs but she drifted off and was abandoned 1st June 1940 off Dunkirk

Valdora. Built for J.M. Walker of Dover and called ‘flower pot ship’ because of potted geraniums on board. Owned by Sully and sold by them to Queenborough for conversion to yacht late 1950s. Caught fire on the Broads and was burnt out in the 1950s. Won 3rd Medway 1904, 2nd Thames 1904.

Pall Mall. Rebuilt and enlarged. Owned Wakeley Bros. Had been going up river to their Honduras Wharf depot and had gone athwart at London Bridge. Towed back to Tunnel Wharf, and bought by Shrubsall.

Verona lying off Norton’s Yard. Photo Pat O’Driscoll

Verona. 56-ton barge built for powder work but re built for the Thames again in 1906. Worked for Sully, Clement Parker and Anderson and back to Shrubsall. Rebuilt for himself in slack period. Second in 1906 both matches. 1st Medway 1905. 2nd Topsail Medway 1906. 2nd Topsail Thames 1905, 2nd Topsail Thames 1906. Taken to Sweden and remains there as an architects studio.
Veronica. Won 25 matches – 11 of them in 13 consecutive starts. Built for Clement Parker and then went to Everard. Most racing success later when owned by Everard. Became a house barge called Veronica Belle and hulked at Bedlam’s Bottom. Had been at Dolphin Yard, Sittingbourne, where her bow boards, etc are preserved in the museum. Won 1st Topsail Medway 1906, 1st Staysail 1933. 1st Open Staysail, 1934, 1st Staysail 1936. 1st Coasting 1937, 1st Bowsprit 1938, 1st Topsail Thames 1906, 2nd Champion Topsail Thames 1908, 1st Staysail Thames 1933, 1st Staysail Thames 1934, 1st Bowsprit Thames 1935, 1st Staysail Thames 1936, 1st coasting Thames 1937,

Varuna. Name means ‘sky god’. Built speculatively and no buyer so Shrubsall traded her himself. Four years later bought by Bevis of Portsmouth, then went to London And Rochester Trading Co. Strood, in 1957. Took timber to the Surrey Docks and in 1957 still in trade. Sank down channel when in use as a yacht. Won 3rd River bowsprit, Thames 1927.

Vimosa. Name is a place name. 13-ton cutter yacht. Built for A.W.Gore, and then bought by Sidney Bew of Leigh on Sea.

Valonia. Name is a sort of algae used for cellulose. 90-ton spritsail barge but eventually had an auxiliary engine. Built for Middleton of Harwich but returned to Greenwich and owned by Horace Shrubsall himself. Last trade to Portland for building stone. Isle of Wight, Yarmouth and Dartmouth. Went from Penzance with sand and then took Portland stone home. In 1937 she was damaged at Emsworth, again later at Dartmouth and then she hit Wandsworth Bridge. In 1938 she hit a coaster Bain off the Yantlet and also hit Gertrude in 1940. Took Government cargoes of tar to France. She was at Dunkirk with a cargo when the evacuation began – she had pitch from Aylesford and had already discharged. She wanted to go away ‘but Jerry got their first’. Held on to take on survivors but an oil tanker with a Belgian pilot struck her starboard leeboard and then she was abandoned. She was the last barge to trade to Dunkirk. It was the best earner for Shrubsall – £446.3.6d. in 1938, £520 in 1940 because she was economical to run on fuel. George Battershall was her master, Mate R.Carey. Battershall later became captain of the Veravia.

Vicunia. Name is a place in Chile. Had the reputation of being a heavy barge to work. Built for Middleton of Harwich and then returned to Greenwich and owned by Shrubsall himself. G.Andrews 1932, Daniel’s and 1958 London And Rochester Trading. Converted to a motor barge 1939. Sold to Gordon Swift in 1967 and rerigged. Sold to French owners, part rigged. She was laid up in Heybridge Basin and in 1994 burnt in Malden Promenade Creek. Her bottom, part stern and rudder remain.

Victa. Had been the Butcher and Gilman barge & Co. built in Rochester. Shrubsall bought her from Wakeleys. Rebuilt and renamed and increased in size and sold to Clement Parker. Became a house barge at Mersea Strood.

Venta. Was the rebuilt Jachin – an 1893 barge of Howard Maldoner. When owned by William Rice she had smashed up on the beach at Newhaven. Shrubsall bought the wreck, rebuilt it and traded it himself, part rigged Owned by Miss Elsie Shrubsall. Everard owned her and used her for powder. .. Sold to Harveys in 1935. Became a barge yacht in 1948 for Judge Blagden and in 1954 under Jocelyn Lukin’s ownership Capt. John Fairbrother sailed her to Sweden where she sailed in the Baltic with Verona.

Veravia Was the rebuilt Alarm, a swim headed lighter owned by Lloyds paper mills of Sittingbourne, built by White, returned to them in 1898. They then rebuilt and rerigged her as a spritsail and sold to Sarah Peyton. She caught fire loaded with waste paper and burnt to the water line. Shrubsall bought the new bottom and ‘rose up to her’ as Vera-Via, the true path. He Lengthened her, keelson doubled, and as a massive coaster kept the small bottom. She traded to the continent for Belgian roof tiles and went far up the Rhine for Appolinaris mineral water – thousands of small bottles closely packed in straw. She went up the river under tow by a paddle tug with other craft, and she therefore had iron towing bits forwards. She carried last the Portland stone blocks for the Cenotaph. She was sold in 1954 at Goldsmith’s Yard in Grays and bought by Nicholas Hardinge in for £1,200. Her captain was Fred Wilson until she was lost in October 1960. She sailed in trade between Ipswich and Whitstable, rolled badly but reliable. She was refitted at Priors Yard, Burnham and an engine fitted 88hp Kelvin diesel, mizzen removed and a wheelhouse fitted from an old Greek steamer broken up at Rainham. She worked for London And Rochester Trading –UK- Elbe- Brest. She did a regular scrap iron run from Deptford to Goole then took coal from Keadby to Wapping, or castor meal from Hull to Faversham, or Canadian wheat from Hull Docks to Craggs and Jenkins at Peterborough, or flour to Guernsey returning with granite road chippings to London. In 1958 she was taken over by the Hayling Coal and Transportation Co of Hayling Island, alternating with cullet to Antwerp and then up the Sheldte to load bricks from Boom. Her last voyage on 31st August 1 1960, was unloading spent oxide 140 tons to Portsmouth Gas Work, supposed to be for glass works at Rouen. She went off but there was bad weather. On 23rd October she was off the Nab Tower and went back to Hayling Island and anchored off Chichester, wind bound there for five days. With better weather she and went off, got into trouble and was lost in a huge sea.

Bankside. Previously owned by the Wakeley Brothers. Rebuilt and enlarged. Mined in the war while owned by Francis and Gilders.

Alderman. Rebuilt for Groom of Harwich, sold to Clement Parker Won 3rd Coasting Medway 1929. Lost on war service.

Claudian. Rebuilt to original M.C.Paton coaster of 1884, built on bow creek, sold to Clement Parker
Corinthian Owned by Burley of Sittingbourne and broken up Churchfields wharf, Milton Creek in 1980.
Vidora. Name is place in Canada.

1801 John Barrett Fishing smack

1855 Toby tug for Watkins


Return to Norton’s Barge Yard

Return to Pipers Barge Yard

Return to Providence Wharf

Return to Delta Wharf

One thought on “Greenwich Built Barges”

  1. The Giralda captain who won the race instead of Harry Munns was my ancester Arthur Coward and we still retain the cup awarded to him.

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