Our conversion of a historic working barge into a home for us and four kids.
Thomas H is a Sheffield Class Humber Keel Barge.
She was built in 1940 by Richard Dunston Ltd., Thorne, Yorkshire.
She was one of two sister ships commissioned by the Hodgsons Tannery at Beverley Beck on the Humber, where she worked for many years. Her sister ship was called Richard after the other Hodgson bother.
She was never under sail, at the time she was built the government was subsidising the building of motor driven barges.
She is extra wide beam at 15.5 feet and she is 62.5 feet long.
We bought her in early 2006 through Alan Pease in Goole and roped him into emptying the various tanks and debris she had in her at the time, decking over her open hold, replacing the unusable Lister engine and generally get her onto working order for the trip down from Goole around the coast to the Thames. Then, we got him to pilot her down too.
This is a belated attempt to diary the ups and downs of our journey so far.
* Alan & Lynne Pease - We spent nearly a year driving up to Goole every other weekend (and any other days we could get off) to work on Thomas. It was hard and dirty work and we'd never have got through it if it hadn't been for Alan and Lynne who not only managed all the big works that were done on Thomas, but also gave us somewhere to eat, sleep and bathe for much of that time. * John Pease and Nikki - Who worked their arses off, made us laugh and were a dose of sanity in a very weird time for us. * Mallo, Richard, Matthew and Andrew - Who were dumb enough to offer to help and brave enough to stick with it. * Alan and John again, and also Trevor, who helped Simon bring Thomas around the coast, got stuck in the fog and nearly didn't make it home for Christmas. * Sally and Tony Woodward - Who have been through it all before us and showed us that there was something to aim for. * Our various crews, who've helped us manage our fear shared our BBQs and made it all much more fun than it could have been. * Rob, Kevin and James at Pro Rig, who've done a fantastic job of sorting out the engine for us, with the help of Steve Bill. * The fantastic staff at Penton Hook Marina, particularly the two Steves who've looked after and over us.
* Bought Thomas February 2006. * Emptied debris from barge's hold, cut out industrial tanks welded to interior. * Put 8 new port holes along the combing to allow light inside hold once closed up. * Cleaned out void under the forward cabin, treated metal and poured concrete into void to protect metal, and add ballast to bow which had been sitting too high in the water. * Chipped, treated and painted exterior of barge (above waterline), for the first time. So many more layers to follow! * Created railing around the sides of the barge, a safety stipulation for the journey around the coast. * Found an anchor. An emotional moment for us. * Removed Lister engine and put in working Iveco, this sounds easier than it proved to be. The dimensions are very different and it took about 8 goes to get the right amount of metal cut out and added to the base before it would match up to the angle of the prop shaft. We'd have liked to keep the old engine if we'd had more time and the money to restore it, but it was in a terrible state and we had to get Thomas down south as soon as we could. * Decked over hold to create enclosed space for the first time. Created gentle curved deck with flat deck area at the bow. * Painted new deck space. * Found, lost, and found another manual winch for the anchor chain. Mounted it on deck before anyone could change their minds. * Repainted deck. * Connected new engine finally. * Went on our first voyage (exciting) and found that she barely moved because the prop wasn't pitched right. * Pitched prop ready for trip around coast. * Wired up navigation lights and a dash board for the wheelhouse. Got a boat safety certificate. Recruited a crew of 4 for the trip around the coast to the Thames and waited for clear weather...and waited...and waited...and watched the whole of Europe shut down due to fog... and cried a little.
* Suddenly got a window in the weather and sailed around the coast from East Yorkshire to the Thames... then got stuck in the fog again.
2007 - Schedule of works
* Moved Thomas up river to Chertsey, slowly.
* Braved our first winter on board, with no insulation and the river frozen around us. * Brought second woodburner on board and constructed chimney. * Chipped, treated, sealed, painted and repainted interior of hull. * Repainted exterior of hull. * Wired up temporary lights and sockets. * Built davit for bow. * Cleaned sealed and painted concrete floor in hold area.
* Emptied, cleaned, sealed and painted bilge.
* Braved our first summer on board with no insulation and heat stroke from working inside a giant hot plate with no ventilation. * Created two large skylights in hold area.
* Battened out interior, insulated hull and deck, built rooms and insulated interior walls. * Extended existing wheelhouse to encompass well deck area.
2008 - Schedule of works
* Pay 16 year old Joe to paint the lower hull again. * Attach ships bell, and ring it to demand cups of tea be bought to us. * Garden some. * Swan about a bit. * Decide to swan about a bit more instead coz, damn, we deserve it.
* Stuck some decking on our flat "cocktail" deck.
* Got the trim shop to make up some covers for our skylights.
* Sourced old boards & cleaned them back before constructing a floating floor for the main living area.
2009 - Schedule of works
* Built new raised floor in bedroom.
* Put in a kitchen counter with sink.
* Stripped out the 1980's crew cabin. Treated and painted the metal with a view to putting in a bathroom.
* Pulled the engine and had it completely refurbished.
* Bought new fresh water and black water tanks.
* Cleaned, treated and repainted in engine room while the engine was out (including engine beds).
* Started the annual repaint, between rain storms (still needs a final coat though).
* Sailed Thomas down to Faversham docks in Kent and dry docked her. Scraped, jet-washed, surveyed, added a plate, painted, repainted and repainted again (and again, and again!).
* Installed insulation in the crew cabin and constructed a new floor.