Silent Sunday at Hannaford Quay


Last Thursday

Topsham beckoned when my friend Sue picked me up from work at 4.15 and the sun was shining. We were just ahead of the rush hour traffic, so 15 minutes later we were parked and walking towards the quay,

where Vigilant is still being refurbished. There’s always plenty to see close to water and Topsham is no exception.

There’s the Lighter inn, for great food and a good range of local ales.The evening is the best time to be on the quay. Look up river,

or down towards Exmouth.

If you’re there for the day, then outside the photo to the left is the Quay Antiques centre which will keep you happy for hours while  you hunt for treasure.

Instead we’ve walked along the Strand, past the library with its pretty garden, towards the Goat Walk,

to the glorious view of the estuary, with Exmouth to the east,and and Powderham and Starcross to the west.

As the light changed, we sat for ages listening to the varied calls of the curlews.

Then our tummies began their own howl, so back we went, meandering slowly,

envying the owners of these two gardens,

Wouldn’t they be lovely places for to sit and write or just sit? We sat in the George and Dragon eating pizza!

I t’s been a long time since I’ve joined Jo for  a walk, ten months for a real one, even longer since I’ve shared a virtual one. This is more of a short pootle than a walk, but she would love it. I was also thinking of Becky, because she loves birds and this part of the world.

PS, please forgive my absence, I’m having an extra crazy time!

Thames Barge Vigilant, Connections

Imagine being six years old and setting off to work in 1908. I compare my little granddaughter who is five when I think of it. Talking to a friend at work recently I learnt that her late grandfather was a ‘Barge Gypsy’. A what? I asked her.
Apparently Charles Willoughby Garner started work on the Grand Union Canal, just six years old. His job was to guide the horse along the canal bank as it pulled the barge owned by the Bromwich’s, his grandmother’s family. The barge carried grain, coal and wood, presumably towards London as the canal runs 130 miles from Birmingham.
Charles stayed with the family barge until he was fourteen and then moved on to be a tug man on the Thames.
The First World War began a couple of years before and thank goodness he was too young to be called to arms. He had a very important role during wartime, guiding boats in under darkness, and when the bombing was happening he would be away from home for days on end.
Charles stayed on the Thames until he retired aged 68. The Bromwich barge was last seen and catalogued as sunk at the bottom of a Manchester dock yard. I wonder if Charles knew that when he died in 1979. I’m sure he was justly proud of his part in Britain’s maritime history. Thank you to Michelle for sharing his story.
If you have been following Lucid Gypsy for a while you’ll know that I’ve been posting about the restoration of a Thames barge, Vigilant, here in Exeter at Topsham Quay, who knows, perhaps Charles even sailed on her. Yesterday I popped down to check her progress.
Stern in the Topsham mud.
She comes with her own garden!
Looking good on the port side.
Wonderful curves.
Traces of colour to her bow.
Imagine how beautiful she will be in sail, I can’t wait to see her.

Related posts
Postcard from the River Exe and its barge project

Thames Barge Vigilant revisited

At the very end of 2012 I told you about the restoration of the Thames barge Vigilant on Topsham quay, here I’ve been back a couple of times but just with my phone camera in fading light. In February I took these.

And just this evening some more.

Haven’t Mr McCabe and co. made good progress?

Thames Barge Vigilant

A few weeks ago I noticed a new arrival on Topsham Quay, a great big scruffy hulk of a boat named Vigilant. I don’t know anything about boats but love to photograph them and this is one I plan to come back to again. She has been brought to the river Exe in Devon from the Colne in Essex to be restored, looking at her current condition, she’s likely to be here a long time. She was built in 1904 and is one of only thirty Thames barges still in existence from the hundreds that originally transported massive loads around the coast of Britain.

Boats like Vigilant used to sail into Topsham back when it was a working port – who knows she may have been before. The barges were originally powered by sail, traditionally very large ochre coloured ones and engines were not fitted until the 1930’s. They weren’t just work horses though, they were also raced and Vigilant was a winner in her class. Apparently she was sailing until the 1990’s and then became a houseboat. The plan is that she will race again under her ochre sails when she is restored to her former glory.

Searching has revealed that there are Sail Barge Societies researching their history, and also the Vigilant was sold recently on ebay, for just under £8000. She looks rather sad at present but I know that one day she will be beautiful and I will try to capture her progress.

Sunday Post: Water H2o

Sunday is Jakes day! Water is the theme for this weeks photos and mine are five miles and eight thousand miles from home.

Near, the Exe from the Goat Walk at Topsham

Far, beside the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

And back to the Exe, it never fails me even with a phone camera.

My photos are a bit predictable, I love where I live and Kuala Lumpur is probably my all time favourite city to visit. For some more original work visit Jake and check out his amazing animations as well as the other entrants.