Legend has it that in the 1928 Thames Barge Match, Fred Horlock promised his victorious rivals that he would give them a ‘reminder’ of the speed of his barges. In the following year, 1929, REMINDER was launched from the F W Horlock yard in Mistley, Essex, for F W Horlock’s own fleet. She fulfilled Fred Horlock’s expectations, becoming champion barge in her class in both the Thames and Medway matches in her first year.
In that 1929 Thames Match it blew hard and REMINDER, which had yet to carry a cargo, was engaged in a tussle with her sister PORTLIGHT, which culminated in the latter’s mast going overboard. As retold by Hervey Benham in ‘Down Tops’l’, Jim Stone, REMINDER's skipper, reckoned that was the hardest race he was ever in. His barge was ready to capsize at any moment going up the Lower Hope. She began a sickening, unnatural, lurching roll, and he told a hand to stand by the tops’l halyard. Over she began to go, and only the order ‘Down tops’l!’ saved her. Her crew, in addition to handling 4000 square feet of canvas, were trimming her by shifting thirty-five fathoms of anchor chain about the deck, and when they finished they fell down on the hatches and lay there exhausted till someone said ‘Come on. Let’s get ashore out of this’. REMINDER won again in the light airs of 1930, but was beaten by the crack barge Sara in the following three years. In 1934 she raced in the coasting class and won on both the Thames and Medway.
One of the last spritsail barges built, REMINDER had a steel hull which was painted white (emphasising her racing aspirations). She had a large sail plan to increase her speed, though this was reduced six years later to make her more manageable as a working barge. After this she did not win any more of the pre-war races. The main trade at Mistley when REMINDER was built was bringing barley to Brooks’ maltings and Free Rodwell’s maltings, usually from the Royal Albert Dock in London, but sometimes from ships unloading in Butterman’s Bay on the River Orwell, and carrying malt from the maltings to breweries. In addition, Horlock had a lucrative contract with local Brantham chemical factory, British Xylonite Company Ltd, to carry acid (in glass jars) from London to the factory. Dick Creswell was REMINDER's last skipper under sail, and was with her when she was converted to a motor barge at Rowhedge Ironworks in 1947 or 1948.
During the 1960s REMINDER was still owned by Horlock and was in the ballast trade, taking sand, stone or ballast at Harwich. Horlocks were eventually bought out by Amey Roadstone and REMINDER was employed by them carrying ballast to the Medway when the M2 motorway was being built. Her last owners in trade were Webb’s of Pin Mill, on the River Orwell.
In 1975 Roger Beckett bought REMINDER from Webb’s and began her restoration back to sail at Pin Mill, before bringing her on a permanent basis to Maldon and employing her on seven day sailing holidays along the Essex and Suffolk coasts. Her cargo hold was converted to accommodate fourteen passenger berths, plus a saloon, galley and bathroom. In 2002 Topsail Charters took on her ownership, setting up a new company, Reminder (1929) Ltd, which owns and maintains her. She now offers groups or individuals weekend breaks, and sometimes runs five-day midweek trips. She can also be hired over the winter as a ‘cottage’ on Maldon Quay. REMINDER is a very regular and successful competitor in barge matches: in 2010 won the Sailing Barge Championships, based on points awarded by the Sailing Barge Association for results in nine different matches. In that year she won the Medway staysail class and the Blackwater senior staysail class.
Source: Paul Brown, Historic Sail, The History Press.
Dan Houston, Classic Boat (September, 2005) Thames Barge Match
Built at the Horlock Yard in Mistley, Essex by F W Horlock
Worked as a Thames Barge principally bringing barley to Brooks’ maltings and Free Rodwell’s maltings
Won the Barge Match but was beaten by the crack barge SARA in the following three years
Raced in the coasting class and won on both the Thames and Medway
Converted to a motor barge at Rowhedge Ironworks
Still owned by Horlock and used for the ballast trade, taking sand, stone or ballast at Harwich
Sold to Roger Beckett who began her restoration back to sail at Pin Mill
Her cargo hold was converted to accommodate fourteen passenger berths, plus a saloon, galley and bathroom
Sold to Topsail Charters who set up a new company, Reminder (1929) Ltd, to own and maintain her
Won the Classic Boat Thames Barge Match
Won the Sailing Barge Championships, based on points awarded by the Sailing Barge Association for results in nine different matches
A Project grant of £250 for being one of our Regional Flagship Winner for the East 2017 was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ship Uk
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