Industrial Archaeology Recordings

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The Severn Trow "Spry"

Historic Sailing Boat Feature

The Severn Trow "Spry"
Historic Sailing Boat Feature

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Video camera & Spry sailing; (Picture: Dave Bushell)


The sailing barges of the River Severn were known as "Trows" and hundreds of them once carried goods and raw materials like coal, stone and sand up and down the River Severn between Shrewsbury and Bristol, and along the coasts of Devon, Cornwall and South Wales before the railways took over this role.

The Spry, built in 1893 by William Hurd of Chepstow is the only remaining example of this type of craft and has been lovingly restored by Alan Williams of the Upper Severn Navigation Trust (USNT).

Mayflower towing Spry into Sharpness Docks

I.A.Recordings has followed the progress of the Spry since 1983, when the rotting hulk was craned out of the docks in Worcester.

Rebuilding at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums' Blists Hill site was completed in April 1996 and the Spry was transported to Red Cliff Wharf, Avonmouth, where her final fitting-out took place.

Her first public appearance was in May 1996 when she was towed by the tug "Lowgarth" up the river Avon to Bristol to participate in the first International Festival of the Sea (24th-27th May 1996).

Video crew & Mayflower; (Picture: Dave Bushell)

In June, 1996, the oldest working steam tug, "Mayflower" towed the Spry up the River Severn and the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal to Gloucester Docks, where she was put on display near the National Waterways Museum.

On 26th May 1997 members of the Upper Severn Navigation Trust sailed her (accompanied by the tug "Resolute Lady") from Sharpness Docks to Queen Alexandra Docks, Cardiff.

On the 28th May 1997, in fine weather conditions the Spry left Avonmouth Docks for a final days sailing before she returned to her permanent home in October at Blists Hill.

The Spry on her last sailing day.

She is now encased in the Sidaway & Co Mercantile and Manufacturing Building at Blists Hill. This building is designed to keep the historic boat safe from the elements and allow visitors to walk around the boat and view her from a bird’s eye perspective, plus discover facts about its history and that of river transport.

I.A.Recordings accompanied the Spry on her journies to make a record for the Upper Severn Navigation Trust. This material is now available on DVD - see "Spry - the last Severn Trow" for more details.

Boat Details:

Length Overall: 21.80 metres (71.50 feet)
Gross Tonnage: 41.40
Draught: 1.37 metres (4.50 feet)
Maximum Breadth: 5.57 metres (18.25 feet)


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Copyright © 2018 I.A.Recordings, Last modified: 12 November, 2019