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British Sailor's Woolwork of a Bowspirit Thames Barge, Circa 1870.

British Sailor's Woolwork of a Bowspirit Thames Barge,

Circa 1870.

Charming small Sailor's woolie of a double-masted ship within maple frame.  The ship is most likely a Thames Bowspirrit barge.  The ship is depicted framed below and between red fabric theatrical curtains.

Dimensions: 15 inches x 18 3/4 inches.

Old label from Eugene Sussel, 1929 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

A Thames sailing barge was a type of commercial sailing boat common on the River Thames in London in the 19th century. The flat-bottomed barges were perfectly adapted to the Thames Estuary, with its shallow waters and narrow rivers.

The barges also traded much further afield, to the north of England, the South Coast and even to continental European ports. Cargoes varied enormously: bricks, mud, hay, rubbish, sand, coal and grain, for example. Due to the efficiency of a Thames barge's gear, a crew of only two sufficed for most voyages, although by today's standards it would have been hard physical work at times.

The vast majority of barges were wooden hulled (although a significant number were also built in steel), between 80 and 90 feet (25 to 30 m) long with a beam of around 20 feet (6 m). The hull form was as distinctive as their rig, being flat-bottomed with a degree of flair to the sides and plumb ends. The stern was a transom, shaped like a section through a champagne glass, on which was hung a large rudder. The hull was mainly a hold with two small living areas in the bow and stern, and access was through two large hatchways, the smaller before the main mast and a much larger aperture behind.


Bowsprit barge 'Marjorie'

Photo by Peter Dalrymple


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