DREAMS AND DECAY
Today I gave my talk, From Pottery to Potting Shed or How I became a Gardener to an audience of 80 plus members of the Faversham U3A. (University of the Third Age, that is). It was well received and I was done by 3pm. Rather than head straight for home I elected to explore the local area.
I think I'd been there some time before but wanted to look a little more deeply into the maritime heritage. I found my way to Standard Quay http://standardquay.co.uk/shops-and-more/ with antique shops, a wine bar and cafe but I was more interested in the boats.
Moored along the quay there are a number of historic Thames sailing barges, dating from the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, so all over 100 years old, some under restoration and others, a little more derelict. Also some substantial iron vessels, converted, not all that sympathetically into house boats. I did have a chat with a nice chap whose brother was restoring a Thames tug, built, I think, in 1908. He had already removed the out of character, oversize coach house and was reinstating a lower structure with portholes.I look forward to returning in a year or two to see the results. But I was intent on visiting the nearby Iron Wharf, on the other side of a wonderful brick warehouse with the legend UNITED FERTILISER Co LTD emblazoned, but fading, along the side.
Iron Wharf was set up over 25 years ago by two sailing barge owners. It's basically a do-it-yourself boatyard where owners work on their own boats, at their own pace. Hence, there are, at one end of the scale, craft being beautifully restored to, at the other end of the scale, those in such a sad state of dereliction that the only water they are likely to see is that which falls from the sky. This one of the former.
And one of the latter