|The sailing barge KITTY will be gracing the watersports at this year's West Mersea Town Regatta. It's now over sixty years since she did this and fortunately a local photogapher took a good series of photographs on the day, many of which I have in my collection.
I believe the year was 1949 - or it could have been 1951. It was certainly not 1950 because that year Kitty's sister CENTAUR attended.
Skippered by Stan Yeates with his wife 'Chick' as crew, Centaur had just discharged a cargo at Maldon when they received orders from their Colchester owners Francis & Gilders to proceed to West Mersea for the Regatta.
Both barges were products of the Harwich yard of J & H Cann in 1895, and continued to work in trade until 1955. Happily both barges are still
alive and well. Based at Maldon on charter work, they are often to be
seen out off Mersea, Kitty is easily recognized by the six pointed star in the topsail.
Quite by coincidence, our Mersea museum received an enquiry from Annie Meadows, having seen one of the KITTY photos on our website, asking if
she could have a copy for the scrapbook she is preparing. She
explained that she has worked on KITTY now for seven years.
We are pleased to help her with this project and two of the images are shown here.
Firstly skipper Ebenezer 'Ebbie' Shrubsall is seen below posing at the wheel of his command. Ebbie, from Kent, was unusual amongst bargemen who were noted for enjoying their ale, he only ever drank water, not even coffee or tea. He mantained 'Lions only drink water and they are strong'. It seems it did him well as he lived to be over ninety years old.
Hand on hip white shirt is Jimmy Banks, then Col. Buckle, Wm Wyatt, Ed Wyatt, Mr V. Cass, a reporter, unknown, Mrs Goatley, Mr Goatley.
The young lady to the right of the lady with the white cardigan is Mary Blyth ( Mrs Wheeler ).
The three little girls sitting at the front are Dilys Maylor, Patsy Saye and Jennifer Hewes, whose mum Ella is the lady in the flowered dress by skipper Ebbie's right elbow. The lady in sun glasses reading the programme is Mrs. Frank Eley, who we have to thank because it was she who bought the photographs from the local photographer so that they could be saved for us all to enjoy over sixty years later.
The second image shows Ebbie mingling with the crowd on KITTY. This was in the days when anyone was allowed on board the barge. Nowadays only the committee are allowed on - and of course the greasy pole entries.
Anyone who happened to be on Stone Point East Mersea on the afternoon of July 16th, would have had a fine view of the ship ULRICKE G. on her way into Brightlingsea to load wood chippings.
At nearly 100 metres long she is believed to be the largest ship ever to load a cargo there and had arrived from Terneuzen, Holland.
She sailed the next day for Rosyth.
Published in Mersea Life, August 2014, page 60.