Certificate no 2467
Status Registered


Function Cargo Vessel
Subfunction Barge
Location Faversham
Vessel type Spritsail Barge
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required No


Builder Felton, H, Sandwich
Built in 1901
Hull material Wood
Rig Spritsail
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Sail
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Inboard diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
22.00 feet (6.10 m)
11.00 feet (3.36 m)
Length: Overall
84.00 feet (25.62 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


TOLLESBURY is a fishing village in Essex, on a tributary of the River Blackwater, which was a loading port for the stack barges. They could lie alongside for horse drawn wagons to unload them. It was after this village that the barge TOLLESBURY was named by Mr Fisher, her owner in 1901.

She was built at Feltham's Yard at Sandwich on the Kentish Stour. From 1912 she joined the fleet of R & W Paul Ltd, of East Anglia, carrying mostly grain, malt and animal feeds but also stone, coal, coke and pitch. Her skipper at the time was Lemon Webb who skippered her around the south coast and across the channel.

At the end of May 1940, Lemon was sailing TOLLESBURY up the Thames near Erith when a naval launch came alongisde and instructed him to proceed to Cory's jetty for orders. There, Lemon and his young lad of nineteen, were given the choice to leave the ship or to volunteer to evacuate the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. Neither of them hesitated so TOLLESBURY was commandeered as part of Operation Dynamo and sailed across the channel to Dunkirk. Although their orders were to run aground and abandon her for use as an embarkation platform, Lemon re-floated her and eventually carried more than 200 soldiers off the beaches.

After the war, TOLLESBURY continued in trade under sail until 1950 when her first engine was installed, going out of trade in 1965 to become a private yacht. By 1978 she was a houseboat. In 1989 she underwent a large amount of restoration work ready for the 1990 Dunkirk commemorations which included replacing/repairing both frames, hull and deck. Following this, she became a floating pub at Millwall Dock in London and was damaged by the Docklands bomb in 1996.

She is one of a handful of Thames Sailing Barges left complete and afloat.Her owners have begun the process of full restoration back to sail, including the renewal of her decks with hardwood to original specifications and the gradual restoration of her rig to its original sail plan.

Key dates

  • 1901

    13th barge built by H Felton of Sandwich

  • 1912

    Sold to R & W Paul of Ipswich

  • 1927

    Hull doubled

  • 1932

    skipper Lemon Webb sailed her single handed to Antwerp and back

  • 1940

    rescued 273 soldiers from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo

  • 1950

    first engine fitted

  • 1965

    sold out of trade as a yacht barge

  • 1978

    houseboat at Pin Mill

  • 1983

    sold to David Paling for rebuilding

  • 1992

    substantial rebuild by Joe Dunnett complete

  • 1995

    badly damaged by the IRA Docklands bomb

  • 2005

    sank at her moorings at South Quay, subsequently raised and laid up at Barkiong Creek

  • 2011

    bought by Euan Maybank and Rachel Smith Restoration begins with Tim Goldsack at Faversham


  • June 2012

    a Sustainability Grant of £1500 for hatches was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK

  • 2015

    £1000 grant given for remedial work from the Strategic Development Fund

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

More like this

George Smeed starboard view

Registered, built 1881 by Smeed, Dean & Co. Ltd.

Photography competition entry 2014 - highly commended

Registered, built 1898 by Cann, John & Herbert, Harwich

Reminder - port side view, underway, Essex.

National Historic Fleet, built 1929 by Horlock, F W, Mistley

Scone - underway

Registered, built 1919 by London & Rochester Barge Co, Rochester