City of London to stage historic barge parade

The City of London and charity Thames Sailing Barge foundation have joined forces to showcase historic barges through a parade and pop-up museum.

Historic barge parade: part of Totally Thames festival
Historic barge parade: part of Totally Thames festival

The parade aims to attract renewed interest in the barges, which need to attract younger participants to learn the skills required to sail the vessels alongside new investment to ensure the barges are kept in sea-going condition.

Held in conjunction with London rivserside festival Totally Thames, a number of sailing barges will set off from the Docklands/Canary Wharf area on 17 September, highlighting how Britain became a financial powerhouse through the Industrial Revolution, which Thames Sailing Barges were a big part of. 

The barges will then head up river to the historic Pool of London and then proceed in strict formation through the raised bascules of Tower Bridge into the Upper Pool, before lining up and setting sail, conditions permitting, for West India Dock. The event will then became a one-day pop-up museum, open on to the public on 18 September.

Shoreside activities at West India Dock include full access to the partaking barges so the public can learn more about barges' history as well as meeting with barge owners, crew members, sponsors, donors, publicists and historians.

The event is the brainchild of Jonathan Fleming and the charity Thames Sailing Barge Foundation, formed with the aim of ensuring the preservation of every remaining barge.

Organiser of the event and co-founder of the charity, Jane Harman said, "I think the parade will help to unite the sailing barge community, and hopefully highlight the importance of keeping these vessels going."

Two years ago, organisers Totally Thames celebrated its launch with a giant hippopotamus in the river, known as 'HippopoThames'. Last year's event featured activities from Santander Cycles

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