ID: ML2022_008_063 / Ron Green

TitleMemory Lane: West Mersea Town Regatta
AbstractFrom Ron Green and Tony Millatt, Mersea Museum

West Mersea Town Regatta has been running since at least 1838 with gaps for wars and so on. The first regattas we know about took place in front of Mersea Cottage, later to become Orleans and then New Orleans. There was a band on the beach below the church, a large marquee was erected and cold food was supplied by the White Hart.

The earliest photos of the regatta show the event taking place in front of the Hard and traditionally with a sailing barge as a committee boat and centrepiece for the watersports. The first photo is thought to have been taken around 1894. It shows a large dinghy or skiff decorated to represent a 'Man of War' complete with gun ports. The rowboat in the bottom right corner bears the name "William Drake", showing that the men from our neighbouring fishing village of Tollesbury supported our event - as they still do.

A photo from the 1920s shows a very wet day with a sail rigged as an awning on the barge and a few bedraggled people walking up the Hard. Although the tide is flowing it's likely that the watersports are yet to start.

Up to the early 1950s there were several barges still in trade and a working barge was used as a grandstand for the Committee. There is a photo of them standing on a cargo of timber one year. For a year or two there was no working barge available and Clarke & Carter's yellow ex landing barge was used, as shown above. Then a converted ex working barge was used, a practice that continues to this day.

Published in Mersea Life August 2022, page 63.

AuthorRon Green
PublishedAugust 2022
SourceMersea Museum