Notes on Hughes bargebuilders

Jim Hughes died in the 1990s – he left a huge pile of notes about Hughes bargebuilders of Providence Wharf (no relation). Here are some of his notes:

ORINOCO of London, built East Greenwich 1895 70 tons 104862 owned by Cranfield Bros. Ltd. College Street, Ipswich. Aux (1949) Ref ‘Sailing Barges’ F.S.Cooper (1955)

WYVENHOE Ref: Kathleeen – The Biography of a Sailing Barge. Richard Walsh Pub Terence Dalton, Lavenham, Suffolk 1986 “Built in 1898 by Forrestt at Wyvenhoe for Augustus George Hughes of Providence Wharf, East Greenwich. Note, Augustus George Hughes in 1898 would have been 47 years.

1851 Census Index for NW Kent Vol III Deptford St.Pauls and St.Nicholas Parishes
p80 Hughes
Frederick A. Age 40 4/342 parents George and Mary Ann
Mary 37
Mary 8
Amelia 6
Agnes C. 4
Frederick W 2
Augustus G 3 months

Prefix 4/ Deptford St.Paul sub-district ie HO 107/1584
1851 Census P33 Borough of Greenwich Town of Deptford
100 20 Florence Road
Frederick A. Hughes Head 40 Lighterman Born Middlesex
Mary Wife 37 do
Mary Daughter 8 Scholar at house Surrey, Camberwell
Amelia Daughter 6 Scholar at house Kent, Greenwich
Agnes C. Daughter 4 Scholar at house Kent, Charlton
Frederick W. Son 2 Scholar at house Kent, Deptford
Augustus G. Son 3 mths Kent, Woolwich
Louisa Martin 20 General Servant

PO London and Suburbs Court Guide 1861 p.363
Hughes Frederick August 8 Florence Terrace, New Cross Road, SE

1861 Census p. 76 St.Paul’s Deptford 90 8 Florence Terrace
Frederick Hughes Head 50 Lighterman and Customs House Agent
Mary Wife 47
Agnes Daughter 13
Frederick William Son 11
Augustus George Son 9
Edmund Son 9
Walter Son 7

Local Directory 1870 p.312 1874 Hughes, F.A. 114 Manor Road
Hughes Frederick Augustus 5 Brockley Villas, Brockley Road.

Garnet 21 Glenluce Road. ref: Neil Rhind

1871 Census p.12 St.Paul’s Deptford 42 114 Manor Road
Frederick A. Hughes Head 60 Lighterman and Shipping Agent
Mary Wife 57
Mary Daughter 28
Agnes C. Daughter 23
Fred.W. 21 Lighterman
Augustus 20 Lighterman
Edmund 18 Apprentice Lighterman
Walter 17 Apprentice Lighterman

1881 p. 16 St.Pauls Deptford. NO mention of Hughes

Correspondence viewed at Morden College
(accuracy will vary – copy very difficult to read and transcribe)

April 1907 Letter to Charity Commissioners ‘the late Mr.A.G.Hughes entitled to the lease of Providence Wharf’

August 2nd 1905 Letter signed by F.A.Hughes ?? Engineering Works, Providence Wharf. re – Conditions of lease – improvements – costs, etc. (Querying the costs)

December 19th 1906 Letter re.amounts of Insurance. Site plan (sketch) includes ‘Launching Way’.

March 14th 1912 Letter from Tilbury Construction and Dredging Co. ‘fire occurred … at Providence Wharf.. which we occupy…..’

February 12th 1906 Letter from Humpherys, Skitt and Humphery. Re.Hughes – Providence Wharf. ‘Kindly allow the insurance to ??????’ (Christmas 1906)

April 12th 1905 From Humpheries, Skitt and Humphery ‘Referring to …… your client …A.G.Hughes’.

April 15th 1905 From A.G.Hughes – ‘Ref …. negotiations with Mr. Coles Child in which agreed to premises and he agreed to sell his interests’.

November 1st 1905 Copy of agreement – Trustees of Morden College and Mr. A.G.Hughes.  Agreement to sell interests etc. prior to Tilbury Contracting and Dredging taking over.

Letter signed by F.A,Hughes 2nd June 1905 Age 94. re Conditions of lease.. Other examples indicate that Augustus G, was now considered the ‘principal’ partner

1892 Register of voters. No. 3789
George Matthew Tapp – Garnet House, Glenluce road Ref. Neil Rhind


1851 Census F.A.Hughes, born 1811 (40) 20 Florence Road, Lighterman.
Sons Frederick W. (2) Augustus G. (3 months)

1861 Census F..Hughes (50) 8 Florence Terrace, Deptford. Lighterman/Customs House Agent
Sons Frederick W. (11), Augustus George (10), Edmund (9), Walter (7)

1871 Census F.A.Hughes, 114 Manor Road, Deptford. Lighterman/Shipping Agent
Sons Frederick W. (21) Lighterman, Augustus G. (20) Lighterman. Edmund (18) Lighterman apprentice, Walter (17) Lighterman apprentice

1874/5 Street Directory F.A.Hughes, 5 Brockley Villas, Brockley Road

1881 Census No longer at 114 Manor Road

1887 Kellys F.A.Hughes (Barge Builders) Providence Wharf, River Bank, East Greenwich

1888 Kellys Augustus Geo Hughes 67 Brockley Road

Kellys 1887 (first) 1890, 1891, 1892, 1900, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906 (no entries after this date) for F.A.Hughes & Co, (barge builders)

1889 Sailing Barge Wyvenhoe built by Forrest for Augustus Geo Hughes

ms 6289/19 1860-1866 Saint Dunstan East
Hughes – Augustus Robert Edmunds bound his apprentice Frederick William Hughes for 5 years beginning 8th September 1863 FREE 15th April 1869
Re: Companies House, City Road. PRO Chancery Lane

SOUVENIR PROGRAMME 1977 T.S.B. and S. Match, Competing Barges.    List includes Orinoco. Built East Greenwich 1895 by Hughes for Masons cement fleet Waldingfield on Deben – eventually bought by Cranfield Bros. Sunk in collision on Thames (1950?)  Raised and brought late 1960s (L.Testar) and re-rigged near Faversham.


  • 1887. First Entry in Kellys – F.A.Hughes and Co.  Providence Wharf, River Bank, East Greenwich.
  • 1890 Pipers took over Dawsons Wharf (September 1890)
  • other adjacent wharves – Mowlems, Thos.Wright & Co., (Coal Merchants), F.A.Hughes, Dawsons…..
  • 1900 others in trade  include Christopherson, T.Scholey
  • 1906 ‘Twenty years of Barge Building’ by F.A.Hughes
  • 1907 New Entry – Tilbury Contracting and Dredging Co. (1906) Ltd.

Lure and Lore of London /river. 1932  Chapter xxx (final)  Thames Hoppers and Matter of Port History 

ref: Down at Providence wharf – small lightering business – carried on by a Freeman, Edmund Hughes.  E.H. saw his chance – 1884 came into existence Tilbury Lighterage Co, Ltd.  Edmund Hughes became first Managing Director – to the far larger Dreadnought Wharf.





Some Tasmanian cuttings

BULLI- Collier shop Bulli was built on the Greenwich Peninsula by Stockwell and Lewis and used in Tasmania – where there are some very familiar place names, so don’t get confused. Here are some cuttings about her wreck from the Tasmanian press – lots more to come.

1877 – 3rd July Mercury Intercolonial Telegrams (By submarine cable)
Australian Associated Press Telegrams. Melbourne Monday

The Steamer Bulli has been wrecked at Murray Pass, Kent’s Group. All hands were saved. The vessel is insured for £15,000 in several offices

1877 5th July Mercury

The Steamer Bull has been wrecked in Murrays Passage, Kent Group, but all hands have been saved. The Bulli used frequently to visit this port with coals. from Bulli for the B. and T. C.’s Iron Co’s works Lempriere. She last arrived here on the 4th June and left on the 6th and was probably on her passage here this time when she was lost.
Lempriere Examiner July 3rd

1877 7th July Mercury

With reference to the SS Bulli, which was wrecked at Kent’s Group on the 28th ult., Rear Admiral Barnard; yesterday received a report from the Acting Superintendent  at Kent’s Group lighthouse. The report, which has been kindly placed at our disposal -states-that the Bulli went through Murray’s Pass at noon on the 28th, but in consequence of a heavy gale she ran back and anchored at Erith Island at 4: p.m. She got under weigh again at 8 p.m. and proceeded on her voyage to Port Lempriere. When about two miles off N.W.Islet she struck on a sunken rock. She then bore up again for Erith, and anchored but she soon sank, and the crew had difficulty in escaping. They all however got safely to shore in a splendid lifeboat which•the ship carried. The Captain and three men then proceeded to Deal Island, where the lighthouse is situated and returned with the Superintendent to Erith, conveying the remainder of the Bulli’s crew, 23, to Deal Island, whence they were taken to Melbourne by the S.S. Tararua. The foreyard of the Bulli is just awash at low water.

Examiner 7th July 1877

Wreck of The Bulli. The steamer Tararua arrived yesterday from New Zealand, bringing with her the captain and crew of the steamer Bulli which was .wreckcd -on a reef at Kent’s Group on Tuesday Last. ‘The Bulli’ was bound for Tasmania with a cargo of coal, and met with very severe weather.  The wind increased .to a perfect hurricane when the vessel was off Kent’s Group, and Captain Rendell was compelled to seek shelter under the land. He was endeavouring to go through one of the, passes between the islands when the’ vessel, struck heavily on a reef, but after  bumping once or twice ,floated off again, and was kept  afloat, by dint of hard work at the pumps  till West Cove was reached where she sunk in five fathoms of water. All the crew were saved., getting ashore in the boats, but everything else went down with the vessel. The men remained on the island up till Saturday last, when the Tararua was signalled, and in order not to escape observation; one of the boats  was manned , and went out to meet the steamer which hove to till the captain and  the remainder of the crew were brought off the island and put on board. The ship wrecked men had exceedingly rough time of it on the island from Tuesday till they were brought off on Saturday having lost everything when the vessel went down. They  were hospitably treated on board the Tararoa, and are now at the Sailors Home well in health; but devoid of everything except what they stand upright in.  Daily Telegraph July 2″

1877 9th July Mercury

The Steam Navigation Board proceeded yesterday to inquire into the loss of the Bulli. Mr. Smith appeared for the captain; and before any evidence was taken he took a technical objection that the board had no power to enquire into the cause of the wreck. The Bulli was registered in Sydney, and traded with Tasmania and the wreck-took place on the Tasmanian coast. The provisions of part 3 of the Imperial Act of 1854 as to shipwrecks and suspension of certificates did not apply: to colonial vessels. . By section 288 of the Imperial Act power was given to the local legislature to adapt, the provisions of part 3 to ships registered at, trading with;- or being at any place within the colony. He contended that the Bulli did not fall within these provisions, and therefore the board had no jurisdiction in the matter. He took this objection because of the possibility of the case assuming such a character that the Captain might be arraigned for hazarding the lives of his crew. The board after consultation, considered it would only be waste of time to go on with the cargo. Age July 5th

1877 July 13th Mercury

So as fully to ascertain the position and possibility of raising the sunken steamer Bulli, in the Murray Pass, Kent’s Group, the steamer Williams has been chartered from Messrs Jas Deane and Co and on Saturday at noon left Hobson’s Bay for the scene of the wreck. She had on board as passengers Captain Daish on behalf of the underwriters Captain Randall late commander of the Bulli; Capt. Frederick a thoroughly practical man in getting off or raising stranded vessels and Mr. Erickson the diver. Should the weather be at all propitious the Willians may be expected back tonight.-Age. 9th July

1877 21st July Mercury

The Steamer Bulli, it appears, is not to be left to her fate and rust away under the waters of Murray Pass without an effort being made to raise her. The figure for which she is covered by Insurance is too material to be paid over lightly, and an attempt is to be made on behalf of the underwriters to lift her from her present position. Capt. George Frederick, who is not without experience in raising sunken vessels, has been entrusted with the work of recovering the Bulli, and his plan of operation has been approved of. The necessary gear; including a boiler and powerful centrifugal pumps, is being collected and shipped, and the vessell containing these will leave for the scene-of the wreck about the middle or end, of the present week. Mr. D.Munro, provides the pumps and machinery and, along with Capt. Frederick, he is sanguine of the attempt proving successful.

9TH AUGUST 1877  Mercury

WITH reference to the s.s.Bulli the same journal reports that the Board held an investigation into the circumstances connected with sinking her.  She was on a voyage coal Laden bound for Launceston and had put into West Cove, Kent’s Group, for shelter during heavy southerly weather on the afternoon of Thursday 28th .June.  At 8 p.m. same day when the weather was clear with a fine moonlight the master got under weigh in the prosecution of his voyage but after proceeding some distance was compelled to return and whilst doing so rounded the sunken rocks off the N.E. island of the Kent’s Group so closely as to strike on them. The vessel was got back into West Cove and an attempt was made to throw the cargo overboard, as she was making water, but by the time a few tons were got out, the leak , which, has hitherto been confined to the fore compartment, broke into the main and vessel soon after went down.   The board decided that Rendell, the master, committed two grave errors in judgement – 1st in rounding the rocks of the N.E. inlet too closely and 2nd in not beaching his vessel after arriving in West Cover in place of attempting to throw the cargo overboard.   taking all the circumstances of the case into consideration the Board was of opinion that a caution to use more judgement in future would meet the merits of the case.

Cutting from unknown modern source

BULLI .  On 28 June, while steaming from Newcastle to Launceston with 450 tons of coal the Bulli was forced to shelter from a gale under Erith Island in the Kent Group, Bass Strait. When the weather moderated she proceeded through Arthur’s Pass, then struck a rock about two miles out and commenced to leak badly. She returned to her former anchorage, but when the pumps failed to hold the water, was abandoned. Rockets were fired to summon help from the lighthouse and  eventually the crew of 26 were taken on to Melbourne by S.s. Tararua, Pumps and salvage gear were sent to the islands where a close inspection of her lying in ten fathoms showed she had been badly holed so the project was abandoned. In 1881 a company was formed to make a second attempt to salvage her, but this was also unsuccessful. Modern day divers report that the hull of the steamer remains almost intact after more than 100 years on the seabed. The Marine Board of New South Wales decided the master committed two errors of judgment; in going too close to the island, and not beaching his vessel in West Cove when the leak was discovered. He was cautioned. The Bulli was an iron steamer of 524 tons, built at Blackwall, England, in 1872 by Lewis & StockweJl, on dimensions of280.2 x 23.2 x 15.9. She was built for the Bulli Coal Mining Company as a coal carrier with a capacity of 500 tons, and deck saloon accommodation for 24 passengers.

Cutting from an unknown modern source

The S.S. Bulli was an iron steamer of 4 tons built in London 1873, and owned by the Bulli Coal Mining Company. On 28th June, when bound from Newcastle to Launceston, she met heavy weather and anchored for shelter under Erith Island, Kent Group. When the weather moderated she got her anchor and left but struck a sunken rock and returned to her former anchorage. It was found that the pumps could not cope with the inrush of water so the vessel was abandoned. She sank but the top of her funnel showed even at high water. The crew was taken off the island by the S.S. Tararua. In 1881 a company was formed to refloat the Bulli but it was unsuccessful.

Return to Stockwell and Lewis

The explosion at Greenwich 1803

Weale. Treatise on the Steam Engine.
An account of the accident in the boiler at Greenwich

(This accident took place in 1803 on the east bank of the Peninsula – somewhere on the riverbank near the Pilot Inn).

The introduction of -the new high pressure engines was checked, in consqence of a dreadful explosion which took place on the 8th September, 1803 in one of the first of these engines which was used near London. It had been set up in a- temporary manner to drain the foundations for a large building, which was thenerecting for a tide corn-mill on the banks of the river Thames, between Greenwich and Woolwich. The temporary engine was managed by a boy, who is said to have confined the safety-valve, by placing a prop of wood upon it and jambing it under a beam in the roof. He left the engine working in this state, and went away;: another workman afterwards stopped the engine, and the-steam having no escape, burst open the boiler very soon afterwards, with an explosion as violent as the blowing up of a gunpowder mill. The noise was heard at a great distance from the place; three people were killed on the spot, and three others dangerously wounded. The boiler was made of cast iron about four feet diameter, and nearly an inch thick; it was considered to have been capable of sustaining a pressure of 500 pounds per square inch. The safety-valve was of very insufficient dimensions, and was so constructed that it could be easily over loaded by design.
This accident excited much apprehension, and showed that the high pressure engines required great precaution in constructing their boilers, to proportion them in the strongest manner, and to prove their strength before using them, as is done with cannon; also to adapt the engines properly to their work, in order that they might be enabled to perform the required task, without forcing the steam to a dangerous elasticity. Mr. Trevithick, after being thus informed of the danger of explosions, took precautions to prevent such accidents in his other engines, by applying two separate safety-valves to each boiler, to give a double security, in case of one valve sticking fast, if ever it should become rusted into its seat, or if it should be overloaded -by ignorance or design; and to prevent any evil consequences from such mismanagement, it was proposed to inclose one of the’ two safety-valves within a box, which might be kept locked, and inaccessible the engine-keeper.
The strength of the boiler was proved previously to setting the engine to work for the first time, by forcibly injecting cold water into the boiler, with a small forcing pump, until it escaped through the safety valve, which had a heavy extra load .applied upon it for the time, in order to subject the boiler to a more severe internal pressure than the steam could ever occasion when in use. An ingenious expedient was also devised to avert the danger of the boiler being injured by the fire, in case the engine-man, by neglecting to feed the boiler with water, should allow .the part exposed to the fire to become dry withinside ; a small hole was bored through that part of the metal of the boiler, which would receive the most direct action of the fire, and the hole was filled up by riveting a plug of lead fast into it: this lead would effectually withstand the heat, so long as it continued to be covered with water; but immediately after the water had wasted below the level of the hole,: the lead would melt, and by letting out the steam into the furnace, would avoid danger of explosion, and the negligence of the engineman would be made known.
By these precautions Mr. Trevithick regained so much confidence, as to obtain some orders for high pressure engines in London; but not so many as he would have received, if the explosion at Woolwich had not deterred many persons from adopting his engines.

Return to New East Greenwich and the Tide Mill

Caradoc and Usworth coals.


Owners:  The Right Honourable LORD HOWDEN  Messrs D.JONASSOHN  and Co,

Depot for the Greenwich, Deptford and Woolwich District –


The introduction of Inland Coals to the Metropolis by Railway having rendered it necessary that the owners of Sea-borne coals should meet the competition so caused, arrangements have been made which the CAARDOC AND USWORTH COLLIERIES will commence a system calculated to accomplish this object; and the undersigned  has been appointed Lord Howden’s and Messrs . Jonassohn and Co.’s SOLE AGENT for its development in the Port of London

The CARADOC WALLSEND Coals are of the best description obtained from the Northern Field . They are large, clean burning, bright and very durable and equally fitted for drawing room and kitchen purposes. The JONASSOHN WALLSEND  are an admirable second-class coal fully adapted for all purposes where a first-class coal is not desired. Both kinds are thoroughly screened at the collieries and again before delivery.

The following are the prices of the coals for cash on or before delivery

Caradoc Wallsend         20s. 0d. per ton

Jonassohns’ Wallsend  18s. 6d per ton

Orders are to be addressed to the undersigned only at the branch office Greenwich Wharf, East Greenwich or at the office of the collieries 25, Coal Exchange, City of London.


Coal Exchange March 1852

AGENTS and BRANCH OFFICES wanted for Greenwich, Deptford, Woolwich, Lewisham, Blackheath, Lee, Charlton, Shooters’ Hill, Eltham, Chislehurst, Peckham,Sydenham and Norwood. Apply personally or by letter to Mr. FREDERIC ROWTON, 25 Coal Exchange London

(advertisement in the Kentish Mercury March 1852)

Greenwich built sailing barges – winners in Medway races

18th event. Start 9.30 a.m. Wind very light.  Champion Race
2. Giralda
4 Haughty Belle

giralda in sail
Giralda in sail

1898 Start 11.5 a.m. Wind very light
1. Giralda

1899 Wind light East

1900 Start 11.56 a.m. Wind Strong WSW,
3. Surf

1901 Start 11.23 Wind Strong

1903 Start 11.18 a.m.
1 Giralda
3 Genesta

1904 Start II. 15 a.m. Wind light N.E.
1. Giralda
2 Genesta

1905 Start 12.10 p.m. Wind East.
Giralda (Disqualified
2. Genesta

Wind East.
1 Veronica
2 Verona
4 Genesta

3 Alderman

1930  Staysail
3 Haughty Belle