Faversham Swing Bridge – Latest News

The MSBA supports Faversham Creek Trust in their campaign to restore the swing bridge, which would allow craft such as sailing barges to use the basin at the head of the creek. On Friday 10 December Helen Whately MP met with representatives from Kent County Council, Faversham Town Council, the Faversham Society and the Faversham Creek Trust to discuss progress since their last meeting in June. The Town Council kicked off the meeting with an update on their legal advice. It said the Secretary of State has the power to issue an Abatement Notice under section 43 of the Medway Ports Act 1973 to compel the party with obligations to maintain this bridge, sluice gates and associated works so as to permit navigation again. The Town Council has written to the Secretary of State for Transport asking him to issue this notice. The meeting agreed that supporting the Town Council to achieve this objective was the best way forward. Money currently pledged by Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council, and Faversham Town Council and raised from the community by the Faversham Creek Trust, is not enough to cover the cost of restoring the bridge. We need Peel Ports to play their part to get the bridge back into working order, this would go a long way towards plugging the funding gap for making the creek basin usable again. KCC confirmed that the Faversham community funding is safely held in a separate account except where individual donors have requested and received their donations back. Kent County Council is helping the Town Council to provide the Department of Transport with further information about the bridge and creek. Helen Whately will press the Secretary of State to take this course of action. While this is a positive step forward there is still a long way to go. KCC confirmed that design work on the bridge and sluices is completed and tender documents are ready. Both Helen and KCC have agreed to update residents about progress so far including future designs for the bridge.

Raybel Christmas Event, 18 Dec

We are having a Festive Open Day on Saturday 18 December from 12 noon till 4pm. Social distancing and masks will be required but it will give you a chance to see how Raybel is progressing. Access to the Raybel display in the museum will be available but small groups only. The windows will be open so please wrap up warm, and sensible shoes only on Raybel. There will be music from 1pm – 3pm and festive pizza from 3.30 – 5pm made in our own oven. Bring a torch if you are coming late as some parts of the site can be dark. If you can’t make it, you can catch up with the latest restoration blog on our webpage

Swale Match changed to 25 June 2022

The Swale Smack and Sailing Barge Match, organised by the Kentish Sail Association, has been changed to Saturday 25 June 2022 (not as published on the KSA website) because of a clash of dates for 20 August with other East Coast events, which would have prevented many of the usual entrants from being able to take part.  Next year is the 50th Anniversary of the very first Swale Match inspired by Laurie Tester, Lena Reekie and Richard Hugh Perks.  

There will be distinct advantages with the change. The later tides mean a very civilised later start than usual and, although this also means that the evening events will have to start later too, the long hours of summer daylight will mean that the prize-giving and party can go on for longer and without crews having to rush to catch a falling tide at Hollowshore.

More details about the Match will follow in the New Year.

David Pollock, KSA Swale Match Secretary

e-mail: kentishsail@gmail.com

phone: 07831 200 018

Queenborough Classic Boat Show, 11-12 Sept

Step aboard a variety of historic tugs, sailing barges and sailing yachts. Free entry.

Queenborough Harbour is conveniently situated in North Kent where the Swale, Medway & Thames meet and an ideal base for cruising. Queenborough Harbour Trust is a not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of the local community and maritime users both resident and from further afield. Trust members are drawn from local boating and civic interest groups such as the Queenborough Yacht Club, Queenborough Rowing Club and the Queenborough Society. Queenborough Harbour is the primary boating refuge on the Swale providing valuable mooring facilities for local yachtsmen, fishermen and visitors alike drawn by the exceptional natural beauty and wildlife of the area, its fascinating maritime history, the convenience of the all tide landing and its strategic positioning as a safe haven between London and Ramsgate.

Rochester Pier still closed but there’s hope

Adam Taylor of Medway Council advises that Rochester Pier remains closed to all river users, please do not attempt access via the brow (walkway between the pontoon and main pier).

Medway Council are working hard to secure resources to repair the pier and bring it back into full use, more updates will follow.

The MSBA understands that the pontoon is safe to moor on and this is allowed for short stays (no overnight mooring) but you must not attempt to go ashore via the brow.

Fingers crossed for funding!

Festival of Chatham Reach, 18-19 Sept

A country fayre atmosphere, with a focus on the heritage of the river and river vessels, we’ll be remembering the history of Sun Pier as a hub of river life coinciding with the second weekend of Heritage Open Days. Located alongside and on Sun Pier in Chatham – currently the only available public river access point in Medway – we will celebrate with historic vessels open to explore, free have-a-go stalls, history walks, and interactive activities to entertain and educate all ages.

In the days leading up to the festival a free sail will take place offering community groups and organisations who would never usually experience life on the river the chance to take the helm and have a go at steering the ship. Haul a sail, wind a winch, learn the history of the area and enjoy the peace of being on the river, all under sail on a 115-year wooden sailing barge (pre booking required). Seeing Medway from the river is without doubt its most beautiful viewpoint. These sailings will need to be booked in advance.

This event is organised by Medway Council in partnership with Sun Pier House and Tiller and Wheel.

The Swale Match: a Celebration of Traditional Sail

Report by Julian Mannering

Last Saturday witnessed the 48th annual Swale Smack & Sailing Barge Match and the magnificent sight of some thirty traditional vessels racing in the River Swale off Faversham and Whitstable. The organisers, the Kentish Sail Association, were delighted that, having had to cancel the event for two years due to gales and the pandemic, they were finally able to fire the starting cannon for the 22-mile race out into the Thames estuary and back to the finishing line off Faversham Creek.

Strong winds on the Friday had prevented some entrants arriving from Essex, but there were plenty of vessels to make a great spectacle. The newly-built Thames barge Blue Mermaid was one of the few craft to make it over from Essex and she went on to win the Bowsprit Class. A good turnout of Kent barges – Repertor, Orinoco, Marjorie, Niagra, Edith May and the beautifully restored Cambria ­– had a fine day’s racing with Repertor winning the Staysail Barge Class, and Cambria the Restricted Class. There were prizes for other craft with the smack William & Mary, the smack yacht Bird of Dawning, the large gaffer Almita and the small gaffer Fifi all taking line honours in their classes.

The Swale also welcomed two traditional Dutch sailing vessels, Albatros and Johanna, the Humber keel Selby Ellen,and Lilian, the beautiful gentleman’s motor yacht, built in Stockholm in 1916, which this year acted as the Committee Boat and added another layer of old-time elegance to the day.

The Swale Match is the largest such traditional boat event on the East Coast, possibly in the country, and offers a vital celebration of these beautiful craft that still play a part around our coast and in our maritime story.

Swale Barge Match, Sat 31 July

David Pollock of the Kentish Sail Association writes: After 2 years’ cancellations, we’re hoping for a third time lucky and invite you to take part in the Match on 31 July 2021.  The Swale Match was established by Laurie Tester, Lena Reekie, Hugh Perks and others in 1973, as a festival of all manner of traditional sailing craft on the East Coast.  The assembled fleet usually comprises not only Thames sailing barges, smacks and bawleys in several categories, but also a variety of gaffers, classic and bermudan yachts, as well as Dutch barges, Baltic traders and historic powered craft.  This provides a magnificent spectacle on the water both for participants and for onlookers.

Swale Match 1982

Last year we introduced a new Open class last year, for non-traditional or unconventional craft, subject to interest.  We also held a match race for the Small Open Gaffers class on the Saturday after the scheduled Match, which was very well supported. 

Both at anchor in the Swale and on land at Hollowshore, crews and supporters come together for prize-giving and entertainment.  As well as Testers’ Boatyard, furnished for the weekend with food and drink stalls and live music, the shore venue also includes the fabled Shipwright’s Arms, supplying cask ales and food. The weekend starts on Friday afternoon, the Match is on Saturday and the homeward voyage is usually undertaken on the Sunday, but you can stay longer!

For further information and to register interest, please contact David Pollock at kentishsail@gmail.com, or phone 07831 200018

SB Raybel is recruiting

Thames Sailing Barge Raybel, moored at Milton Creek in Sittingbourne, is recruiting:

Assistant/Trainee Shipwright Full Time 
With restoration work now underway we are looking for someone to join the shipwright team. A rare opportunity to work with a credited national expert on barge restoration, learn heritage skills, and contribute to the regeneration of Sittingbourne and Swale Heritage.  
More details at http://adobe.ly/3ejJo3U

Artist in Residence £3600 based on 2 days a month of heritage-based  community arts activities.
Applications sought from artists living, working, or with a strong connection to Swale. Timescale  April  2021 until December 2022. 
More details at https://tinyurl.com/hfruzhca 

Socially  Engaged  Artist Mentorship 10 working days over a year. 
An opportunity to work alongside Salford  Makers, a highly  experienced arts collective, commissioned to deliver a programme of heritage-based arts engagement during 2021. Would suit an early career artist living, working, or with a strong connection to Swale.
More details at https://tinyurl.com/3mwm6k3w