The Bread & Roses Barge Team
31 Mar 2022
We would love you to join us
When we launched the May Day Campaign on the 1st May 2021 we just didn't know what reaction would be to three women claiming they intended to start a floating bakery aboard a historic barge.
Within four days we had reached our target of £4000 and we started to think we might be onto something here.
This allowed us the confidence to speak to Gareth Maeer, a specialist in Heritage projects and run the ideas past him. Very quickly the decision was taken to engage his services to start the process of exploring our options.
The funds still kept coming which then allowed us to start the process of bringing May to St Osyth to carry out some work before putting her in the berth where she sits now. A full survey was carried out and the realisation of what we are taking on became very apparent. Any small hope of a quick fix up to get going were very rapidly fading.
Many conversations with experienced shipwrights, much mumbling, scratching of heads, walking about, lifting up boards, cutting out timbers, more mumbling resulted in the conclusion May is not good !
At 130 years of age we were expecting it was not going to be plain sailing but we had hoped it would be able to be done in stages. This might well be an option still however we were keen to know the full extent of what is required to safeguard her.
Alongside this work we also had the amazing pleasure of starting to form new partnerships with organisations involved in the work we would love to think May will be a part of.
Thanks to a successful bid for a small grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund we were able to run six pilots aboard May. However before this was possible we had to offer a different option to getting aboard. The ladder tied to the stern, perched on a pile of telegraph poles and a leap of faith was properly not to everyone's taste including us !
Our enquiry for assistance to Dura Composites was met with the most incredible enthusiasm and a week later a brand new, purpose made gangway was delivered. We are still blown away from their kindness and generosity, it really was the key to the next step in this journey to explore the possibilities for the future of May.
During the Autumn we welcomed so many amazing women aboard to share a meal with us and discuss their work and if they saw a use for our vision in their organisations. From women who work the front line in protecting women and their families from harm, those offering hope of a long term settled future, to others trying to forge an equal footing for young women entering the maritime workplace, all had a part to play in safeguarding, healing and protecting women in a world where we all wish it was not needed.
But it is.
Thats why we are so passionate about providing a safe space to allow women to explore for a few hours that the hold of May can offer. We don't want to do this a alone, in isolation, outside of the communities that have an affection for the Thames Sailing Barges, for May, for heritage vessels. Its very much part of her future that her heritage is woven into any plans for her. Thats why a bakery is the obvious future.
Built in 1891 to carry grain and flour along her trading routes of the East Coast until 1964. Then proudly owned by Tate & Lyle Ltd and of course, sugar. Her future had to include these products.
So please do join us over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th April 2022 to help us celebrate an amazing year in the history of the Thames Sailing Barge May.
We will have the kettle on from 10.00am and will have available archive material to look at and her history to mull over, an update on the progress of the plans to restore the barge and the plans for her future.
If you have a story to share or a photo to show we would love to see you over the weekend.
As a caring community we know that together we can give a future to an old barge who in turn will offer peace and calm to others in search of a future filled with hope.