Barge restoration attracts huge Lottery Grant
Raybel Charters Community Interest Company has received National Lottery funding for the restoration of the Thames sailing barge Raybel, it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to bring the Raybel back into full sailing condition as an asset for the local community.
Funding of £680,000 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the three-year project, which will start this summer.
Renowned as "the ultimate evolution" of the sailing barge, Raybel was built at Milton Creek, Sittingbourne and launched in 1920. The success of the bid means that Raybel will be restored in time for her centenary year.
The restoration will take place at Lloyd Wharf on Milton Creek and will be a key component of a new heritage tourism and leisure site that is being developed by Swale Borough Council. A sailing barge restoration has never been carried out at Sittingbourne before, despite the town’s great heritage in barge construction.
The project will also provide training for local young people and, through links with local community organisations, heritage volunteering, conservation, researching and sailing opportunities. A three-year programme of heritage activities has been planned and will be further developed with local people.
The Raybel team will be recruiting project staff and volunteers over the next month.
Post-restoration Raybel will become an asset for heritage-based education, skills and health projects, and will become a key link in an emerging network of sail cargo pioneers, shipping goods from Europe and across the Atlantic, to north Kent and into London.
You can find out more about the project on their website http://raybelcharters.com/
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Don't worry James, we'll get under. Have been down and taken the measurements. Will need the right tide, but we'll be fine. Raybel now expected to start the trip back from Essex around 26th September, with a stop-over at Queenborough before coming up the Creek.
If SB Raybel is coming up to the head of Milton Creek I hope the headroom of the bridge that carries Swale Way across the creek is taken into consideration. Originally it was planned to have enough headroom for a barge with its sailing gear lowered to get under the bridge but, after the arson attack on the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum sail loft and the closure of the museum, SBC was quick to lower the planned clearance height (to save money) thus blocking access to the creek for all but small craft.
At a stroke any potential Milton Creek had for future leisure development such as boat yards, marinas with associated businesses, etc. was lost. Security against vandalism/theft will also be an issue given the problems the Light Railway have experienced previously.