IFOS 2003

Thistle is the oldest iron sailing barge still sailing, and the only one built in Scotland. She was launched by William Hamilton and Co. on the Clyde in 1895, and this picture shows her on her maiden voyage. (Photo by permission Ray Rush)

Thistle traded through two world wars before she had her first engine installed in 1948.

Her first owner was H.A.Covington, a coal merchant in Battersea, London, and she traded regularly from the Humber to the Thames, carrying 150 tons for coastal voyages and 170 tons on the Thames and Medway.

It was on a passage in 1948 that her metal sprit bent. She was towed back to Rochester, and her sailing gear was removed she was converted to a motor bare. She was sold out of trade in 1972, and restoration begun at Woodbridge in 1980. She then laid for 5 years near Battersea Bridge as a houseboat before a complete restoration was undertaken in 1987.

Since then she has voyaged to Brest, conpeted in te Tall Ships Race from Newcastle to Kiel, and won a number of sailing barge races.

Most recently she has featured in the BBC TV programme "The Murder Game" as Jay Wilmington's house-boat.

This model is being constructed from a fibre glass hull by Paul Stringer, based on the lines of the Lady Daphne. The wood planking effect has had to be removed, as she is an iron barge.

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