Registration number 2110
Status Registered


Function Cargo Vessel
Subfunction Barge
Location Lower Halstow
Vessel type Spritsail Barge
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No


Builder Cann, John & Herbert, Harwich
Built in 1906
Hull material Wood
Rig Spritsail
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Inboard diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
20.75 feet (6.33m)
4.00 feet (1.22m)
Length: Overall
86.00 feet (26.23m)


Built in 1906 by J & H Cann of Harwich, a spritsail barge of timber construction and a Ford diesel engine of 120 hp. EDITH MAY's working life was spent on the East Coast carrying grain.

She was derigged after the Second Wolrd War and traded as a motor barge until 1961.  She was G F Sully's smallest coasting barge, her area being restricted so that she could take cargoes anywhere between Harwich and Dover, but was not able to go to Great Yarmouth.  She would take 125 tonnes to sea.

In 1953, she won the Thames Sailing Barge Match in her class, believed to be the Coronation Match of that year.

After 1961 she was rerigged by Vernon Harvey and became one of the most successful racing barges of the post-trade era. She was sold and moved to Liverpool during the 1980s before returning to the East Coast in 1990. She sat in St Katherines Dock, London for several years and deteriorated before moving to the Medway where she was bought by her present owner in 1999. There followed a major restoration project which is now nearing completion. EDITH MAY was regarded as the finest and fastest barge in the fleet. She is a link to the past for the community of Lower Halstow where she is being rebuilt: the village was built around Eastwoods brickworks and a fleet of barges operated out of the dock there.


Key dates

  • 1906

    Built by John & Herbert Cann of Harwich as a Thames Spritsail Barge for John Howard for coastal trade carrying wheat and grain products

  • 1906-1961

    Used as a Barge carrying general goods

  • 1946

    Derigged and used as a Motor Barge

  • 1961

    Sold to Vernon Harvey who re-rigged her and won most of the spritsail trophies

  • 1971

    Sold to the Maritime Museum in Liverpool Where she languished in St Katherine’s Dock

  • 1999

    Bought by the present owner

  • 1999-2009

    Restoration including old and new wood grafted on her.  Most of the original barge was left intact.  She was based at Lower Halstow Dock sailing the Medway and her Thames Estuary home waters again

  • 2010

    She received a grant of £1500 from the National Historic Ship’s sustainability fund for restoration

  • 2012

    She received the Flagship of the Year award from Princess Anne.  She was also crowned winner of the Thames Barge Championship

  • 2015

    Vessel is believed to be in Lower   Halstow, Kent continuing her trips along the Medway and the Thames Estuary


  • March 2023

    A Sustainability Grant of £800 for remedial work was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships with the support of Winter & Co (Marine) Ltd

  • 2020

    Awarded £15,000 from Culture Recovery Fund 2nd round

  • July 2020

    A Sustainability Grant of £500 towards the cost of a cover was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK

  • April 2012

    Winner of Flagship of the Year 2012 and awarded £1,000 from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK Source: National Historic Ships UK

  • January 2010

    A sustainability grant of £1500 for sails was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships Source: National Historic Ships


Classic Boat: 1,000 Boat Pageant - The Flotilla Boats, Edition 6, May 1994 
Yachting Monthly: An Essex girl back in the groove, July 2011 

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