The latest edition of that superb magazine ‘Mainsheet’ arrives through the post to me here in Ireland. These are always excellent and always most welcome and this one, No. 92, Autumn 2012, arriving on a rain-swept day when I am dissuaded from outdoor jobs by the weather, bringing with it the promise of lots of fascinating reading, is especially so. These sometimes come out with a main theme, like the ‘Fire’ edition of Topsail I was describing a few posts back, and here there is a strong thread of Dickensian London running through it. Page 12 has the ‘Bookmark’ section covering a new publication called “Dickens’s Victorian London” and there is an excellent long, rich article on Henry Dodd, ‘The Golden Dustman’ which makes reference to the fact that Dodd was a contemporary of Dickens and that they knew one another. Dodd may have been the ‘model’ for Dickens’s character Nichodemus Boffin. There is a piece called “Expectation” about some convicts escaping into the marshes and references to the ‘Magwitch’ stuff in.
I don’t want to give the impression that it is all ‘Dickens’, however especially if any readers are, like me, complete Philistines who hate Dickens with a passion having been forced to ‘do’ Great Expectations for ‘O’ Level in the most tedious, analytical, dry way imaginable…. The whole mag is full of the usual powerful, well written articles backed up by pains-taking detailed research and obvious hard work. Cambria’s re-dedication is covered, as is the sad loss of SB Trojan, the resurrection of SB Niagara, SB Edith May’s being awarded ‘Flagship’ status by National Historic Ships, another in the brilliant series “Frank Thompson Remembers”, stuff on the AGM, the Olympics and this year’s rush of barges appearing on screen. We had John Sargeant’s “Britain’s First Photo Album”, of course, and Rory McGrath’s “Pub Dig”, the BBC’s “Our Food” series featuring SB Lady of the Lea in a hop brewing story, SB Cygnet in Country File and finally SB Dawn recreating a stackie trip to deliver hay to the Horseguard’s Parade. It was a good year for barges on screen.
The mag is filled with other fascinating stuff and is well illustrated with plenty of excellent photo’s and has SB Thalatta under full sail in the Thames Match on the cover. I am also pleased from a ‘blogger’ point of view that the SSBR are now starting to include comment and praise for the new internet presence now beginning to come through from the innovative newcomers to its ranks. SSBR now has a Facebook page and there is a rich and informative blog written by Tricia Gurnett now on line.
So, well done once again, the Editorial Team at Mainsheet and all the contributors. Also to SSBR themselves – you should be rightly proud of this magazine. Anyone reading this who is not a member and does not receive Mainsheet and Topsail; you are missing a real treat and you should seriously consider joining up. It is only £15 per year in the UK. SSBR are on http://www.sailingbargeresearch.org.uk/ and Tricia’s “The Barge Blog” is on http://sailingbarges.wordpress.com/ . SSBR on Facebook are on http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Society-for-Sailing-Barge-Research/166172703419349?ref=ts&fref=ts