- Every barge was built without an engine, the auxiliary power was introduced later in the 19th century.
- Every barge can be sailed by one skipper, his mate and their dog which they had along for security and protection.
- The first barge match took place in 1863 to challenge the competitive nature of the skippers who always wanted to get to the next load before their rivals.
It was financed by a wealthy businessman known as the “Golden Dustman”, Henry Dodd.
- One of the sailing barge matches (there are eight), the Thames Sailing Barge Match, is considered to be the second oldest sailing race in the world.
Being some 150 years old, only the America’s Cup is older.
- Many barges were requisitioned by the royal Navy during The First World War and many never returned. The same again happened in the Second World War, when many barges took part in “Operation Dynamo”, the 1940 evacuation of British and French forces from Dunkirk beaches on the north coast of France.
- Thames Sailing Barges can float in as little as 1 meter of water (3 foot) fully laiden, which makes them ideal for maneuvering around the Thames Estuary.
- The bowsprit on some barges was only introduced because of the matches so that the barges could gain more speed through the extra large area of sail that could be set on it.
- A little known fact is that a lot of Thames Sailing Barges are sitting at the bottom of the North Sea having been deliberately scuttled after the war because of the Great Depression 1929-1935/6.
SB Kitty owner, Roger Marriott and Skipper Kevin Burtonshaw would be able to shed more light on this.
- The last vessel to carry a cargo under sail alone in British waters was the Thames barge Cambria. She was also the last barge to carry a commercial cargo.