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