Sailing Barge

1899 - 121 years ago.
Melissa was built by J.G. Fay of Southampton and allocated the Ships Registration Number of 110078.

J G Fay & Co Ltd
Northam, Southampton, Hampshire

History: Incorporated as a limited liability company, J G Fay & Co Ltd, in 1889 in order to continue the business of J G Fay at Northam, Southampton, Hampsire. The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1912 and the yard was subsequenlty occupied by Camper & Nicholson Ltd.


The Shipbuilding Industry: A Guide to Historical Records (Studies in British Business Archives) by L.A. Ritchie
Publisher: Manchester University Press (13 Aug 1992)
ISBN-10: 0719038057

In later years the yard was owned by John I. Thornycroft & Company and later by Vosper Thornycroft . The site can still be seen on the map below.

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She was built for E.J. & W. Goldsmith of Grays in Essex who ordered twenty-eight sailing barges from J.G. Fay and subsequenlty owned the largest fleet of barges in Essex at that time.

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1940 - 80 years ago.
Stan Mayes, who worked for Goldsmith's between 1936 and 1941, remembers Melissa being skippered by a father and son crew possibly called Bennet - the son being Ralph Bennet who later became the skipper of the barge Geisha.

1942 - 78 years ago.
October 22nd - Melissa was bought by the London And Rochester Trading Company Ltd .

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1944 - 76 years ago.
Melissa had all the sailing rig removed, a Bergius engine installed, and a wheel house built. At this time she was given a new Certificate of British Registry as she was a different vessel.

1951 - 69 years ago.
July 10th she was purchased by T Cook.

1960 - 60 years ago.
Picture of Melissa in Halfway Reach on the River Thames - Many thanks to Bill Rutland for the photograph. Skippers around this time are believed to be Jim Diddams and Gordon Diffey.

According to Gary Diddams, the son of Jim Diddams and skipper of sailing barge "Gladys", his Father was called Jim Diddams and so was his Grandfather which makes the identification of just which Jim Diddams skippered Melissa difficult. We do know that during the 60's the younger Jim Diddams was skipper of the Crescent Shipping (formally London and Rochester Trading Company) Robust and the older Jim Diddams was Skipper of the Rock for the same company.

Thanks to Bill Rutland.

Possibly taken at the same time as the one above!

1962 - 58 years ago.
July 30th she was purchased by John Edwards Lembent.

1963 - 57 years ago.
February 22nd she was purchased by William Edward Filmer.

1964 - 56 years ago.
March 13th she was purchased by Gordon Diffey.

1968 - 52 years ago.
The Society for Sailing Barge Research have a few negatives showing Melissa in the Royal Docks London taken during 1968.

1970 - 50 years ago.
April 8th she was purchased by Maritime Moorings (Ipswich) Limited of 12/14 Purplett Street, Ipswich. It is understood that the people invloved where Capt Les Osborne and Capt Richard Duke. Capt Osborne had previously worked for Goldsmiths. At the the Melissa barge was in a scrap yard at Rowhedge near Colchester and was due to be cut up. Capt Osborne and Capt Duke bought her for about £1,000.

1972 - 48 years ago.
Derek "Spearo" Ling talks about his involvement with Melissa and the day the engine blew up! Many thanks to Spearo and Chris Rudland for taking the time to make the video below. More videos by Spearo can be found on YouTube

Sadly Spearo passed away on August 18th, 2011. The text below is by his daughter Sue.

Derek Charles Ling (AKA Spearo) 19/11/27 - 18/08/11

Derek was the oldest surviving Barge Skipper in England whose family have three generations of barge masters serving Ipswich and associated companies, his father Frederick served R.W. Pauls for 50 years and Derek himself served R.W. Pauls and Cranfields for many years carrying cargos to and from London and during the Blitz returning with brick rubble to build runways at RAF Bentwaters and other wartime airfields, a true character who had some wonderful stories to tell about his life on the water..

Father of 11, married for over 60 years, famous in the barging fraternity, friend to many famous people including Robin Knox-Johnston and the late grandson of Charles Dickens (Cedric Dickens), contributor to the charity Operation Drake. The next person to be made a Freeman of the City of London after Margaret Thatcher and thereafter a Freeman of the Waterways. A simple man, Suffolk born and bred, a true character full of stories. Proud to call him dad.

Yours Sincerely

Sue Rudland

1973 - 47 years ago.
March 20th she was purchased by Arthur William Horne of 3 Bradley Street, Ipswich.

1975 - 45 years ago.
Melissa was taken out of commercial service from the Orwell ballast trade and converted into a house boat.

The ballast trade was exactly that - a trade in ballast. Vessels are designed to sail with a given weight on board, this normally being based upon the weight of the expected cargo. Should the vessel have no cargo then ballast may be used compensate. Sailing without the necessary ballast would be dangerous.

1994 - 26 years ago.
Bought by Jonathan and his father Fred Webb with the intention of restoring her to her former glory.

At that time Melissa looked like this:

1996 - 24 years ago.

2000 - 20 years ago.
Melissa was hauled out of the water and into the family boat yard at Pin Mill for restoration.

2003 - 17 years ago.
Starting to look more like Melissa.


2004 - 16 years ago.
Starting to look even more like Melissa.

2005 - 15 years ago.




2009 - 11 years ago.
July 13th - Very First Sail

July 18th - Melissa entered and won the Pin Mill Sailing Club 48th Annual Barge Match!

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