In 1900 My Father, Mr. H Shrubsall obtained a lease from Morden College of part of the then unoccupied ground a little upriver from The Ordnance Wharf of the South Metropolitan Gas Company for the purposes of concentrating the building of sailing barges in one yard, of estuarial, coasting and Continental types, instead of at his Main Yard, Dock End Shipyard Ipswich and a. similar yard at Narrow Street Limehouse, together with his other business of Marine Survey Work and Valuation, and subsequently as Owner of a fleet of mainly Coasting and Continental craft.
He was a keen supporter of the Thames and Medway barge races as a means of improving the hull forms, speed and handling of the craft and after various successes in these races finally produced The VERONA in 1905 and the VERONICA IN 1906, the latter considered by many the fastest barge all round that was built.
Amongst the barges that were built at East Greenwich were:-
1901, The King and Southwark.
1902. The Imperial and Princess
1904 Valdora and Duchess
1905 Verona and Pall Mall rebuilt and enlarged
1911 Valonia Coasting & Continental converted to auxiliary l932
1912 Vicunia. Rebuilt and enlarged
1914 Jachin rebuilt & renamed , Venta,
1925 Alarm rebuilt & renamed Veravia
1927 Bankside rebuilt & enlarged.
Most of the barges built have been prize winners in the various Thames and Medway barge races, especially the Verona and Veronica, the latter right up to the recent cessation of the official races together with the Sirdar which was built at Dock End shipyard Ipswich, 1898.
With the decline of the sailing craft which was then taking place in favour of powered craft and the latter of steel accelerated by the outbreak of the First World War, no further craft were built and only repairs and rebuilding which could be carried out on the foreshore were effected. The decline was further accelerated after the- War by the emergence of the motor lorry transport offering a direct delivery; from door to door of such items as cement, brick or coal etc. As this decline took place part of the inshore land and the building shed became redundant and this and part of the land was taken over by the adjacent Delta Metal Co, Ltd. for extending their premises. Subsequently they obtained the freehold of the yard together with that of the North Pole Ice Co., Ltd and Humphrey and Grey (lighterage) Ltd, from Morden College and on the termination of the final lease from the Delta Metal Co., Ltd the Yard was closed down in 1943.
Mr Bartlett can no doubt give you the exact dates that different parts of the inshore land were taken over by the Delta Metal Co. Ltd, beginning around 19l4, as I joined up on the outbreak of the War and did not join my Father until early 19l9. Also I have not got any records of the dates of the taking over of further sections which the Company would of course do.
I believe my Father was about the last builder on the river to have a Saw Pit with one man below and one above to work the hand saw cutting trees to the shape of timber required on the barge. This was closed down around 19l4.
Mr Bartlett telephoned me a little while ago with reference to the previous tenants of Mowlem’s Wharf, Greenwich. It has occurred to me that a firm, Wilders and Walker used to moor dumb barges there but whether they had a tenancy of not I do not know.
Further, Flower & Everett, Ltd, used to repair their wooden dumb barges in the cutting at the upper side of the wharf, but again whether they had any tenancy of part the Wharf I do not know. The present firm are at 23, Blackfriars Road SE1, telephone Waterloo 6466, but with the changes in that firm since then they may not be able to help.
As to Wilders & Walker, it is possible that Mr. John Badcock of Messrs John Badcock Ltd, Who I think took over the adjacent Pearce’s Wharf about that time might be able to help. There used to be Stewart’s dry dock, below Ordnance wharf, which was subsequently filled in. I regret that any photographs I had of the premises were destroyed about 15 years ago.
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