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Thames Barge

Griff Rhys Jones joins the crew of a Thames sailing barge to recreate the precarious journey that thousands of similar vessels once made as they brought produce including hay, beer, fish and even bricks from the east coast into London.

He loads a barge with bales of hay and discovers the challenges of navigating a so-called 'stackie' that would once have supplied a horse-powered London with its precious bedding and fodder.

Negotiating tides and braving dangerous shallows, Griff sails right into the heart of London. Living the life of a deckhand, he finds out the meaning of hard work as he grapples with the boat's unique sails and leeboards, faces the bargeman's favourite meal, plum duff, and has a go at singing traditional sea shanties.

En route, he explores the wonders of the Essex coastland and its naval traditions, and uncovers some of its secrets, such as the mysterious Foulness Island, a testing ground for weapons once dependent on barges for its gunpowder supplies.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Wed 1 Mar 2017 15:15
BBC Two Wales


Role Contributor
PresenterGriff Rhys Jones
Executive ProducerNick Shearman
Executive ProducerFranny Moyle
ProducerMichael Davies
DirectorMichael Davies