The Thames sailing barge Cambria seeks lotto cash

With the assistance of two port authorities, and other generous sponsors, the famous Thames sailing barge Cambria – now in her centenary year – can move to a new berth in Sheerness Docks. On the 27th April Cambria, housed in her floating dry dock, will be towed to the Camber at Sheerness Docks from the now defunct Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum on nearby Milton Creek, Sittingbourne, Kent.

Speaking on behalf of the Cambria Trust, William Collard, Trustee expressed his appreciation of the latest support offered by the Medway Ports Authority (MPA), who have made the new berth available and a recent ‘pump priming’ donation by the Port of London Authority (PLA), thus enabling the Trust to prepare the Cambria and her floating dry dock for the journey.

Once the Cambria is at her new moorings, an application will be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an award of £950,000 – out of a total bill to restore and bring Cambria back into use of £1.4 million.

Providing that the HLF bid is successful, the PLA is willing to offer both moral and practical support to the Cambria Trust – in particular, in its efforts to establish a partnership of bodies with a mutual interest in the aims and objectives of the CAMBRIA project in order to raise the remaining sums.

The PLA have a particular interest in Cambria as she is a vessel of historical significance, built on the Thames tideway 100 years ago. Restored, she would be a living example from the long history of trade under sail in the Port of London. The PLA and the Cambria Trust would like to see the barge operated as a floating classroom, mooring at a variety of piers and other locations throughout the Thames and its estuary in order to offer training and education in environmental, social and economic history as well as sail training and associated activities

Tony Ellis, Chairman of Trustees for the Cambria Trust, expressed a welcome for the support from the PLA and MPA and referred to previous substantial donations that had also been received from Tate & Lyle, Cleanaway and others. He pointed out that, once restored, the Cambria will also be able operate as a floating museum depicting the history of the Thames and Medway estuaries, with the aim of encouraging additional interest and support from the general public.