So, having settled on a design, sourced some finance and found a build site, in 1997 the Speights; father David and son Nigel, set about building their new Thames barge. The scale of the task must have felt overwhelming at times. Every piece of steel was rolled and bent in the traditional way and moved into place with their own little crane.
It is a tribute to their care and skill that the finished hull is only an inch or two out from the original drawings, I doubt the original builders did any better.
The work was done outdoors, and the steel deliberately allowed to rust in order the remove the mill finish and make it easier to blast and paint. After six years of on and off work they set about painting the hull, making and fitting deck fittings, planning ceiling boards and hatched covers until they had a fair facsimile of a working barge. All be it sitting in splendid isolation in their back yard about 500 m across a field from the Walton Backwaters.
It was still four pieces bolted together and not yet able to take to the water, but it was well on its way to fulfilling the dream they had set out on. Now to make some more money to finish paying for the work to date and hopefully allow the final stage of welding her all together as an operational sailing barge.
In chapter 3 A star is born...