Local Knowledge Training Day for trainee Bargemasters
Waiting for Tower Bridge at the end of a training trip from St Katherine’s Dock to Woolwich Barrier, Greenwich and Tower Piers. As part of the work of Thames Sailing Barge Trust and Sea-Change Sailing Trust to provide structured experience to people working towards becoming barge skippers, this day was funded by Trinity House. It was great to see Lady Daphne back in commission after a big programme of restoration and we were made very welcome by Sam and Andy. The barge is shortly going down Channel to be based at Charleston so this was the last time she will pass through Tower Bridge for a while and was the end of an era for long-time skipper James Kent.
Mustering in St Katherine’s Dock for coffee and croissants at 0800 felt very early what with the clocks going forward as well. We were joined by waterman Dave Jessop who gave generously of his knowledge of the river. Being Sunday, traffic was light which was a little unrealistic compared to a normal working day. Even so, spoil was going away from Chambers Wharf and some hardy souls were braving the advertised “exhilaration” of the various rib experiences on offer in the misty cold with the tops of the high buildings shrouded in low cloud. They waved cheerily as they bounced past at eye-watering speeds. We shared the lock with a sea school rib and instructor about to do a training session on the tideway. He was in the process of relocating to a quieter Essex river.
James took us down to the Barrier as we related the points of interest to the learning materials. There we turned and headed in against the ebb to catch a brief turn at Greenwich Pier before a 1315 bridge lift and return shortly after following a few minutes on Tower Pier. By this time the traffic had increased considerably. Driving home the sun came out and planning a week of scrubbing and antifouling looked more pleasurable than in the earlier mist.