Barge Launched at Harwich
An interesting ceremony was witnessed in the shipbuilding yard of Mr W McLearon, at Harwich today (Tuesday 6 February 1906) when a new barge, which has been built in the yard, was launched in the presence of a large number of people. the barge, which was christened the Thalatta is owned by Mr Frederick William Horlock, the well known boat owner of Mistley. She is a fine business like looking craft, being 89 feet long, beam 20ft 6 inches, depth 7 feet 6 inches, and her tonnage is 150. She will be used for the coasting and continental trade. The barge was decorated with flags and the christening ceremony was performed by Mr Horlock’s little daughter, Coralie Clare, who broke a bottle of champagne over the bows, after which the vessel glided beautifully into the water, amid three hearty cheers, the launch being a highly successful one. The Thalatta immediately proceeded to Mistley to load a cargo of wheat for London, and will afterwards proceed to the continent.
Thalatta left Harwich for Mistley to load her first cargo, wheat for London. In 1906, as well as the east coast ports of Lowestoft, Harwich, Mistley, Hull and London, her passages took her to the near continent including Antwerp, Dunkirk, Nieuwpoort and Rotterdam. She also carried malt to Ireland. These destinations clearly indicated that she was considered to be a good sea-going vessel – a quality which not all of her kind could claim. Her first skipper was Jim Alliston, of Mistley.
When Fred Horlock had made up his mind to buy Thalatta he insisted she be rigged as a ‘spritty’ (spritsail) and not as a ‘boomie’ (a boom and gaff mainsail), as she had originally been intended. It was a decision he apparently later regretted, and she was taken back to Harwich by her Skipper James Alliston to be re-rigged as a boomie at some early point. The spritsail rig was designed for the calmer waters of the River Thames and the estuary, and was not the ideal rig to have on a sea-going vessel.
In November 1908 she was caught in a heavy storm when on passage from Sunderland to the Thames, and was towed into Lowestoft with a broken main gaff and a torn sail; seven other barges were either lost or driven ashore in this storm.
In January 1909, when loaded with maize from the London Docks, she was in collision with the steamer Forth in Blackwall Reach, sustaining considerable damage to her starboard side, and had to be repaired by Shrubsall’s at Greenwich before continuing her voyage.
Thalatta carried some coal freights to the continent (and once returned home with a cargo of eau de Cologne!) before being taken over by the Royal Navy for use as a fleet supply vessel. The Navy gave her a small semi-diesel engine as an auxiliary, but according to all accounts this was never very much use to her, and it was removed a year or two after her return to civilian employment.
In 1916 Thalatta ran between Shoreham and Dieppe deep loaded with pig iron to feed the French war machine
On 25 May 1917 Thalatta was sold to Wynfield Shipping Co of Grimsby. A 70 hp two-cycle vertical oil engine was fitted in the former skipper’s cabin aft, built by Plenty & Sons of Newbury. She was used as a supply vessel to the Humber boom defences, with Percy Richmond as her skipper (who had previously been mate). Her fore-hold was converted to accommodate her crew which now included an engineer. Her rig was cut down and she worked from Grimsby as a motor barge.
At the end of the war Herbert Body, of Southend, took over as skipper and she was employed taking materials to Flanders for post-war rebuilding. Between 1919 and 1921 her passages took her to Paris, Antwerp, Brussels and Rotterdam. After that she carried cement to Torquay, china clay from Fowey to Greenhithe, and granite chippings from the Channel Islands.