Wednesday 7 September 2011

Strictly Come Barging

Something a bit different for Dad today which ends up with him shaking hands with TV presenter John Sargent. The barge is currently at Gravesend as part of the celebrations around the civic event, the opening of the new St Andrew's Wharf. This is the bit of Thames quayside between the little St Andrew's church and the Town Pier. 'We' are moored there now till Weds 14th, the civic ceremony happening on Friday at 11:00.

While we are there the BBC call on us to see if they can borrow the barge. They are producing a film series covering the photographic career and post-card empire of Francis Frith, Victorian photographer whose mission it was to photograph every town and village in the UK. There are now hundreds of thousands of Frith black and white images in a big archive, many of which have gained historical importance.

The BBC is looking at a few locations on a then-and-now basis in films presented by John Sargent, one of which is Gravesend. One of the famous images shows a Thames sailing barge moored alongside Gravesend waterfront at a point where a big Civic Gardens tipped out onto the quayside through big ornate gates. We think it might be the Clifton Marine Parade one seen now as ref 49042 in or . We think this is now a huge Tesco's.

Anyway, keen to get a similar picture with barge and to do the piece on Thames Barges as part of the programme, the film team plus John spent a couple of hours out and about, afloat, filming from the barge and from a motorboat. This was all done by the time Dad was scheduled to arrive and the crew were filming a last few bits and pieces including the 5 guys in this picture (incl, obviously, John S). Dad's job was to help secure the boat against this rather sloping mooring as she "took the ground" (sat down on the mud). The guys are, left to right, our Master Shipwright Tim G, Cambria Trust Chairman Bruce R, skipper Richard T, John S and crew-man "Stretch".

Dad admits that John S would barely have known he was there, so it's hardly hob-nobbing it with the famous, but John Sargent did shake everyone's hand and thank them all including Dad as he hopped off the barge.


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