This film is part of Free

A Thames Barge Match

Large numbers of the famous Thames Barges race while warships from the Royal Navy look on - in this fascinating film from the 30s

Amateur film 1930 2 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


This nostalgic film from the inter-war years starts on the Thames near Sheerness. Several Thames Barges, with their traditional design of sail, weave between massive Royal Navy warships lying at anchor in the expansive waters of the river estuary. A group of men, who look like they might be sailors or bargemen, pose for the camera while raising their glasses. The film ends with shots of a quiet garden and a Dalmation dog.

Once a common sight on the River Thames, Thames Barges are a type of flat-bottomed commercial sailing boat which can operate all along the Thames estuary and in and out of its tributary rivers. The larger barges are also capable of venturing further out to sea. The design of the vessels were often improved as a result of the matches which have been held on the Thames since 1863. Though the matches haven't always been a regular annual event, they continue to the present day.