Length: 80ft 2ins
Beam: 19ft 2ins
Displacement: 57 tons
Engine: BMC 56hp Diesel
Construction: Pitch pine on oak
Builder: Howard, Maldon
Built by Howard's at Maldon in Essex in 1889, the Ethel Maud is a well-preserved centenarian. Originally she worked for Parkers and then for Green Brothers, the millers in Maldon, until they sold out in 1964. Her type was known as stack barges or 'stackies'. These were loaded with hay and straw from the farms of Essex, Kent and Suffolk, to feed and bed the working horses on the streets of East London. Their appearance when loaded also earned them the name of 'haystack barges' and they frequently returned with cargoes of 'scrapings' - horse manure swept from the streets of the City and put to good use by the farmers of East Anglia. They carried a variety of cargoes which were quicker and cheaper to transport by barge than by horse-drawn wagon or even by the early railways.
When Tilbury docks opened in 1958, the old traffic to the docks of London diminished and the working boats gradually lost their importance. Despite her age, the Ethel Maud was a fast sailer whose moveable bowsprit could carry two staysails, a jib and a foresail. She had a mainsail, topsail and mizzen and could, on occasion, add two more foresails used like spinnakers. She sailed competitively in barge races until 1970. Yet her rigging allowed for her spars to be lowered easily to pass under bridges and despite her three-foot draft, her lee-boards gave her a good performance to windward.
Ethel Maud was finally sold into retirement in 1963. Her present owners, David and Jean Maude, (no connection with her original name) converted her into a houseboat in the Kentish seaside town of Sheerness and she is now at Rochester. At Dunkirk she was loaded with stores for the BEF, but her precise role has not been recorded.
Not yet updated.
Ethel Maud is undergoing a complete rebuild at Shoregate wharf on the river Medway. She has been in a dry dock for the past 5 years; all the work is being carried out by her owner and his parents and funded out of his own pocket.