Barge of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, 1800


State Barges on the Thames

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Between 1640 when their first barge was built and 1846 when their last one was sold, the company owned six barges. The first of these was built by Abraham Tue of Southwark for £120. 4s. 0d., including the cost of gilding and launching. New barges were built in 1669, 1687 (for this one the barge house had to be lengthened) and 1718, when it was reported that the barge was in such bad condition that ‘there might be danger of her bottom coming out if squeezed in a Croud of other Barges’. Another barge was built in 1764, and the last one, illustrated here, in 1800. This was built by Richard Roberts of Lambeth and was 24 m (79 ft) long and 4.3 m (14 ft) wide with a house 11 m (37 ft) long. It was made ‘of good sound seasoned English Oak free from Red Rot, Sap and prejudicial knots’. The total cost of this barge was £I,607. 2s. 6d., ‘including. £130 for carving Scrowl of Barge, and £45 for painting and gilding the same’. By 1846, because of increasing expenses and fewer civic functions, the barge had become a liability, and it was sold for £63. It was used as a boat house by the Oxford University Boat Club until 1854, when it passed to University College, and was finally broken up in 1878. The ‘scrowl’ or coat-of-arms, which decorated the stern and which is illustrated on this page, was removed before the sale and now hangs in the company’s hall.

Additional information

Dimensions 38 × 23 cm