Spritsail barge "Scone"

A Final Resting Place in Benfleet Creek

The demise of the Scone is touched upon in Neil Ardley’s book  – Jottings of a Thames ditch crawler”, in which he hints of a sad ending for this spritsail barge. Built by Gill of Rochester for the London and Rochester Barge Company in 1919, it last traded as a motor barge in 1971. Her last freight was 180 tons of Canadian wheat from Tilbury to Rochford. Her skipper was the late Fred Pettit of Colchester. Scone was then laid up  and eventually sold as a houseboat.

In June 1977, she was bought from Geoff Ward by Stephen Mallett as a derelict and abandoned houseboat and re-built and re-rigged so that she was back on the water with new sails and rigging by May 1979. After a few years chartering and racing, Scone was put up for sale again in 1983 and was bought by G Heald, a publican from Whitstable. He sailed her briefly before turning her into a restaurant in London.

Subsequently, having been sold a couple of times, Scone was allowed to sink on her moorings in the West India docks, was raised again, laid up in Barking Creek and was last noted in poor condition in Benfleet Creek.  And there she still lies…just west of the road bridge connecting Benfleet with Canvey Island.

Scone off Tilbury, 9th June 1971
Scone in Benfleet Creek, 13th October 2012
Mark Thres
Location of the Scone

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  • Mr. Bagshaw and his wife stayed in our Bed & Breakfast about 1970. He told me about his experiences with Scone, including a voyage to the tiny river port in Gweek, in Cornwall, where I was born 80+ years ago. He recounted the trip in tremendous detail — direction and strength of both wind and tide. I wish I could have recorded him.

    By David Freeman (13/02/2018)
  • My husband worked on the Scone as Mate to her last trading Skipper, Fred Pettit.  He left in the 1970’s, so she can’t have traded long after that, prior to Fred’s well earned retirement.  I am presently typing up my husband’s memories of life on the Scone, if any one would be interested.  Very sad to see the 2012 photograph.

    By Pamela Wilder (10/10/2017)
  • I joined the Scone as 3rd hand in May 1933 under skipper Bagshaw! Finally finished my sea going life in steamers and motor ships. Finally after obtaining my masters certificate serving some time as master in oil tankers I finished life as a Humber pilot (upper station). I am now 97 yrs. old.

    By sidney woods (29/02/2016)
  • Hi, my name is Dean Wildish, I was skipper for G. Heald in Scone when G.Heald bought her. I bought her home from Hoo Marina one winter when she was laid up as a house barge. I rigged her out and sailed her for him for a while. I saw her a few months ago at Benfleet. I was so sad to see her like this, she was a lovely barge to sail and if I had the money I would put her back sailing. 

    By Dean Wildish (02/11/2013)
  • Who is the owner of her now?

    By Steve (19/08/2013)
  • Thanks for putting this on here, I’ve often looked across at her and wished I could bring her back to life…seems such a shame that a whole way of life is left to rot like that.

    By Tim Eagle (28/07/2013)

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