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Restoration work starts on historic Thames sailing barge, Growler

PUBLISHED: 11:57 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:50 09 October 2019

The sale of Growler T-shirts is partly funding the restoration of a historic sailing barge. Pictures: Ash Faire Ring

The sale of Growler T-shirts is partly funding the restoration of a historic sailing barge. Pictures: Ash Faire Ring

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Restoration work has started on a historic Thames sailing barge which is being brought back to its former glory by a Norfolk teenager.

Growler in its heyday. Pictures: supplied by Ash Faire RingGrowler in its heyday. Pictures: supplied by Ash Faire Ring

Ash Faire Ring, 18, is restoring Growler in his home village of Burnham Overy Staithe in north Norfolk.

He fell in love with the 34ft traditional Thames barge, which was built in 1922, when he first saw it, and the owner gave it to him to restore.

He plans to use the restored barge to transport food and ale to London, continental Europe and beyond, and hopes to launch in spring 2020.

The former Gresham's School pupil, who finished his A-levels in June, said: "It was an amazing moment when the first new piece of wood was put in after almost 20 years.

Ash Faire Ring, left, is restoring Growler in Burnham Overy Staithe, with sponsorship from Jotun. Picture: supplied by Ash Faire RingAsh Faire Ring, left, is restoring Growler in Burnham Overy Staithe, with sponsorship from Jotun. Picture: supplied by Ash Faire Ring

"We had a fantastic fundraising event sponsored by Slow Food East Anglia. This event attracted over 400 people raising £1000 which paid for her new keel.

"The next stage was to remove all the underwater planking on the port side. The starboard side planking has already been removed and the frames doubled. Our job was simply to copy this. After this was completed shipwright John Owles surveyed the frames concluding that 10 would need to be doubled and three completely replaced. The team then went to collect the oak from south Norfolk."

The project is being supported by the Nancy Blackett trust whose grant paid for the oak for framing.

Mr Ring added: "The first step was to cut the large oak planks into smaller pieces suitable for framing. The frame was then cut and the first piece of timber was in.

Work starts on historic sailing barge Growler. Pictures: Ash Faire RingWork starts on historic sailing barge Growler. Pictures: Ash Faire Ring

"Work on Growler has now taken off and six of the 10 frames needed to be doubled are in. Once this phase is completed, we can replace the keel, which will arrive from France at the end of October."

The team will then have to raise £2000 for hull planking. This is being funded through the sale of Growler T-shirts at £12 each, and from the proceeds of an extraordinary concert and exhibition at Burnham Overy boathouse, from 6-10pm on October 19.

Work starts on historic sailing barge Growler. Pictures: Ash Faire RingWork starts on historic sailing barge Growler. Pictures: Ash Faire Ring

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Work starts on historic sailing barge Growler. Pictures: Ash Faire RingWork starts on historic sailing barge Growler. Pictures: Ash Faire Ring

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