Greetings from the north.
Firstly, we would like to say thank you for putting the Scone on your site. It is likely we would never have found her without you.
We would also like to say thank you for joining our trip out to visit the Scone, it enriched our day and it was nice to meet you in person. A pity we did not have more time to chat.
[Mark Thres and Frank Gamble, from the BCA, met up with the adventurers before they set out. Not being suitably attired they declined to make the trek across the marshes]
The trek was well worth the effort. What you see on the bridge side, is a fraction of what’s occurring on the other side. It is in a much worse condition than expected. The sun shines on it, so the wood has opened up letting in the elements and the creek water. There is a large hole front right (as stood at the back of the barge) and the hold has filled with mud. It looks as though the hole may have been given a helping hand, which we think is the usual way with things – scuppered.
The photographs show Peter Wilder, Steve Mallett and Pam Wilder. They were taken by Jane Dixon on Monday, 25th March 2019. The photograph of Scone only was taken by Steve Bisco. You will see that there is still a small plastic dinghy attached to the barge at the back.
Both Peter and Steve M said they were glad they had gone to see her; Steve to lay a ghost to rest and Peter because he now accepts she is no more. All done in good company: Peter’s old school friends Steve Bisco and Mark Dixon and the ladies in the team, Peter’s wife Pam and Mark’s wife Jane.
We have since found out when the Scone was completed, 6 days, plus 100 years earlier than our visit – 19 March. We were told this by John White, Secretary of the Sailing Boat Research Trust. We have a more photographs but are keeping them under wraps for the moment.
We discovered that the barge’s deck has been covered with a layer of fibre glass (possibly to stop the deck drying out when she was a restaurant. Or did they have to do it to comply with safety regs?), which will be stopping the rain reaching the wood beneath it. The rot will have to come from the joist ends as the outside planking falls away. Most likely the ribs will be pushed open as the hold fills up with sand and water. But the main hold is capped with steel, the original purpose to create stability. This is also going to hold things together, but the weight may have a counter effect. Time will tell.
Also, you could see through the hole in the side that the huge deck beams were sound. There are also metal brackets/knees giving strength between the hull and the deck and helping to hold the deck up. Peter thinks the boughs will go first, as they are the curved timbers, and then separate from the middle section – the barge’s back is already broken. Perhaps it will be a case of the south side collapsing, then the deck falling down at that side.
The top of the small hold is also lined with fibre glass – as shown in photograph, looks like concrete.
We have done a little write up that will be added to the end of the book. We have made a point of telling it like it was, so as to not to promote it as a Sunday afternoon ‘bimble’ for the family – you must have seen our falls; we all had a go at least once, nice soft landing though. On return to the sea wall, we knew there was a café in the vicinity of the boatyard and retired there for a fry-up breakfast, which was very nicely cooked and rounded things off well
Through being on your website (reading about Nick Ardley’s books), we found ourselves back on the google site, looking at where we traversed. Went into imagery view and lo and behold, there is an earlier photograph of the Scone, more what she would have been like when she first went to Benfleet – still has a lot of gear onboard. Although the photograph is named ‘Deserted’, so may have been there a while. Dated April 2011, 18 months before the much-deteriorated look on the 13 October 2012 photo. Very revealing.
Also interesting, how high the water level is on the boat (why – what is so weighty inside her, or was it because she had been scuppered), and how sodden our pathway across the marsh is. On our visit there was the ribs of a much smaller wooden boat to the Scone’s port, stern, stuck in the mud. On this photograph, it is afloat behind her, but looking ‘doomed’.
Curious about the April photographer. They have already labelled the barge deserted, although it still looks like a going concern. Is this someone in the know? Or someone wanting to spur some action? Had it already been there sometime? We attach link, so you don’t have to search: https://goo.gl/maps/tCEDp3Z6YqK2
We were wondering if any locals that have an eye to what is around them, can remember when the barge first arrived on the scene and did it appear overnight. Like an old mariner.
We also wondered what the local reaction was when a barge of that size suddenly appears in full view and then, doesn’t go away. Did she make it into the local press, we ask ourselves.
We understand she was taken to Barking Creek as a temporary measure, having sunk whilst she was a restaurant in West India Dock. We also have a note that she was sold in 2004, but at the moment not too sure where we got that from. From then to April 2011, still leaves 7 years unaccounted for. We wonder how long she would be allowed at Barking Creek, which is much nearer London.
All in all, a very successful day and we know all in our group enjoyed themselves and of course, we met up with Steve Mallett in the flesh, having been sending emails back and forth and know he also enjoyed himself and did what he probably wouldn’t have done on his own.
Thank you once again.
Pam and Peter Wilder