Registration number 3719
Status Replica

Previous names

  • 2019 - 2022 Blue Mermaid


Function Replica
Subfunction Barge
Location Maldon
Vessel type Spritsail Barge
Current use Community Vessel
Available to hire Yes
Available for excursions Yes


Builder Toms, C & Sons Ltd
Built in 2015
Hull material Steel
Rig Spritsail
Replica definition Operational Replica
Number of decks 1
Number of masts 2
Propulsion Sail


Breadth: Beam
0.50 feet (0.15m)
2.92 feet (0.89m)
Air Draft
91.00 feet (27.74m)
Length: Overall
87.83 feet (26.77m)
Tonnage: Gross


BLUE MERMAID is a replica built from the plans of Mistley Shipbuilding Company for the original vessel of the same name which was launched in 1930 as one of the two last full-sized sailing barges built for trade. The other was RESOURCEFUL which was given an official number one higher and therefore entered service as the last Thames barge to do so in the historic era. RESOURCEFUL suffered an accident some three years later and was not re-rigged but converted to power and had a canoe stern added to reduce cavitation. She subsequently became a houseboat and tea room and currently lies at Maldon. There is anecdotal evidence that, although not the last to enter service, BLUE MERMAID was the second of the two hulls to be launched.

The original BLUE MERMAID traded until 1941 for FW Horlock (her builder) and was lost on 9th July that year with both crew, skipper Percy Bird of Ipswich (who had seven children, and some of whose descendants have visited the new vessel) and mate George Lucas of Manningtree (whose brother is alive in 2022 and whose family celebrated the 80th anniversary at Manningtree War Memorial where the intention is to add his name). Both ORIONOCO and MAY FLOWER were heading up the Swin at the time when BLUE MERMAID was coming down, loaded. The mate of the former had been at school with George and watched as his barge exploded. The cabin lamp of the MAY FLOWER, on which author and supporter Nick Ardley grew up, hangs in the new BLUE MERMAID.

When deciding how to replace hired sailing barges (CAMBRIA, REMINDER, WYVENHOE) to do the work of Sea-Change Sailing Trust in sail training, the trustees decided to replicate the last development of the type and to do so from new to more easily obtain permission to carry cargo with trainees and to reduce maintenance costs. The replica hull was built by C Toms and Son Ltd at Polruan and launched on 24th May 2016. She was towed to Maldon and fitted out by TS Rigging with a total cost of £750,000, entering service in May 2019 with a group of young people from Manningtree and a visit to Mistley.

She has insulated accommodation either side of a cargo hold of 160 cubic metres, each with solar panels for electric lighting, water supply and heating. The hold has demountable fittings enabling loading. The vessel has no engine. Sails were made by James Lawrence Sailmakers to a sail plan by Jim Lawrence who has since sailed aboard. The vessel had an inclination test on 9th July 2019 and the process to seek regulatory approval to load commenced, requiring exemption from much legislation to fit the traditional vessel. This process was completed on 20th September 2022 with the award of the necessary exemption certificate by the MCA. The vessel entered service and will continue to operate when not carrying cargo under the general exemption applicable to Thames Barges and under her exemption when carrying.

In 2019, the replica BLUE MERMAID won the Colne Match and has done well in the races she has entered. She has also proved a very successful residential charter vessel for youth and other sail training and in 2022 completed 22 charters. The stability data required by the MCA results in her being able to load 110 tons, 40 tons less than the original vessel, because of modern requirements. it is intended to carry cargo at the beginning and end of each season and to continue established sail training work during the high summer.

In March 2023, BLUE MERMAID was licenced to collect and deliver sail cargo anywhere between Lowestoft to Sandwich entirely under sail.  Owners the Sea-Change Sailing Trust are keen to hear from any organisations interested in sending their cargo on a low carbon delivery around the coastline of East Anglia, the tidal rivers of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent, and the River Thames. 

Key dates

  • 2016-05-24

    BLUE MERMAID was launched at Polruan

  • 2022-10-11

    Entered on the UK Replica List

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