Gates open 11am to 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday
We have one visiting vessel (TSB Centaur, see below) coming to Hermitage and open to visitors, a pop-up cafe in the pier house and of course the resident live-aboard boats to view close up, mainly Dutch and English river barges, and all in navigable condition with working engines and many with sailing rigs as well. We were to have another vessel, The Massey Shaw, but the vessel has had engine difficulties that has unfortunately put it out of action for this weekend, but we hope it may be able to come in September.
Thames Sailing Barge Centaur was built of timber way back in 1895 in Harwich. It is a typical Essex coasting barge, and could hold a cargo of 125tons, typically hay, bricks, grain, sailing up into London, or up the East Coast or along the South Coast. The design of sailing barges allowed them to navigate the creeks of Kent and Essex, with their small draft, flat bottom and lowerable rig.
The fireboat Massey Shaw is named after the first chief fire officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (from 1861 t0 1891). Built 1935 and dimensions 24m x 4.19m x 1.14m draft and , like Portwey, is a twin screw vessel, in this case powered by two 165hp diesel engines. She served in the 2nd World War bringing troops back from Dunkirk, and as a fireboat in the Thames, dowsing waterfront fires during the blitz. The most recent excursion was on Sunday 4th Sept 2016, in the event to mark the 350th anniversary of the 1666 fire of London with the burning of a representation of 17th century London by artist David Best. The Massey Shaw was there to dowse the embers, with her fully functioning fire pumps.