Thames Lighter Diana
This ‘Barge Story’ featured in the 2012 programme.
For many years the 112 year old Barge DIANA has been maintained and raced by Bill Smith and his family, up to and including the 2011 Barge Driving Event.
I have known for some years that the DIANA was in need of a visit to Bill and Phil’s barge clinic for some serious surgery and a makeover, based in South Dock Marina, but we could not recover her as the marine crane could only lift 20 tonnes.
On the Sunday following the 2011 Barge Driving Event we received a very sad call, DIANA had taken a turn for the worst and nearly sunk on Campion’s moorings but a passing tug managed to raise the alarm and help was soon at hand.
Following three long days of plugging and patching holes, she was revived and managed to stay afloat – only just! The time had come for Bill to finish his lifelong affair with the ‘other woman’ in his life, to his wife Beryl it was a sad but great relief, Beryl had always joked about Bill’s lifelong affair with DIANA.
We all hope we have a guardian angel sitting on our shoulder, for those of us who care about the DIANA it came in the form of Eric Reynolds, a man who has a great interest in the history of the River Thames.
Eric is based at Trinity Buoy Wharf, he is extremely busy leading up to the Olympics but he took time out from his very busy schedule to discuss DIANA and a proposal about her future. Following a short meeting with Eric, he agreed to adopt DIANA and gave us the go ahead to restore and transform her back to her former glory; she is a fine lady and proudly sitis on the water today.
For all of us concerned with today’s Barge Event we owe Eric a very big ‘Thank You’ for stepping in and saving this wonderful old lady of the River Thames, DIANA.
We wish Eric and the crew of DIANA every success in today’s Event and for the future.
Bill & Phil – The Surgeons!
In 2012 Eric asked Bill’s family to crew the barge and it went on to win the Event – congratulations!