This classic Thames Sailing Barge was built in 1922 in Sittingbourne by Messers. Willis & Packham for the celebrated Horlock family. She achieved racing success in the Thames matches during the 1930’s and took first place over a number of years.
On 6th June 1940 an English Bomber crash landed upon her resulting in the loss of her rigging and fire damage to part of her deck. She was then consigned to ammunition duty for the rest of the war.
The ‘Phoenician’ was converted to a motor barge in 1949 and traded until 1973 when she was sold to Albert Groom.
In 1927 Albert Groom and his family had moved from London to Canvey where he built up a successful antiques business over the years. Eventually in 1973 he sold his shop for redevelopment and in true Albert style bought her and another wooden sailing barge and a steam tug.
A favoured vehicle for the owners of small coasters such as the Phoenician when putting into port, was the bubble car, a Messerschmitt or ‘Schmitt’ as it was affectionately known. At sea the ‘schmitt’ was tucked away snugly below deck and in port it was hoisted over the side onto the quay in readiness for the opening of the local public house! Albert had been offered a 1958 blue KR200 with only 8,000 miles on the clock which he snapped up and put into the Phoenician for future attention.
After becoming ill with cancer and spending a long time in hospital, upon his recovery Albert decided to create the ‘Albert Groom Trust’ to show his appreciation of the care and kindness he had received from the nursing staff. He presented the Phoenician which was worth at that time around £100,000 to the Trust, his aim being to raise money to convert her into a holiday ship for handicapped people and their nurses. The barge was lying in Pin Mill on the River Orwell in Suffolk and Albert managed to get a Board of Trade certificate in readiness to carry 40 nurses and patients during their coastal trips.
In 1983 Albert got the ‘schmitt’ out of the Phoenician and on the road again following a long refurbishment. Albert painted the car blue with a picture of the Phoenician on its nose and drove it to St Katherine’s Dock in London. With the name of the trust emblazoned on each side he planned to tour the country with a collecting can to raise funds for the barge conversion.
Sadly Albert died at 77 before the work on the Phoenician could be finished, but his family kept the Albert Groom Trust going for 17 years to 14th February 2000.
After this date the Phoenician was sold to the current owners who refurbished her and brought her back to her former glory as a fully seaworthy vessel.
At 84.1 feet long and with a 20 foot beam the SB Phoenician, moored in St Katharine Docks in London, was refitted to the highest standards during the 1990’s to provide the most superior facilities available in its class, for both racing and entertaining.
Sadly due to a racing accident she had to return to Maldon for repair work to be carried out, but suffered further bad damage in the freezing conditions and heavy snow of 2010.
She has undergone major deck refurbishment and is now moored back at St Katharine Docks, having been returned to her former glory and fully functional for private and corporate static entertaining once again.
If you are interested in hiring our beautiful, newly refurbished Thames Barge as a fabulously unique entertainment venue in London, please give us a call on 01375 366700.