£20,136.84 FUNDED

Lynher Barge Conservation Project

Lynher River Barge CIC

To purchase and install a new engine, prop and tail shaft for Lynher Barge, to enable greater operations of the barge.

Heritage vessels boost circular economy.

The waterways of Great Britain have a history steeped in enterprise and innovation. This sprawling network was once the beating heart of commerce and industry and, although many of the working boats have long since been replaced with pleasure cruisers, there is renewed interest in harnessing the power of the water network to boost a carbon-neutral economy.

This is the ambition of husband-and-wife partnership Barbara and Dominic Bridgeman, boat restorers based on the Plymouth Sound. Driven by their shared passion for maritime history and with a clear commitment to the wider community, they have set about creating a growing business that combines the proud heritage of Tamar shipbuilding with low-impact commercial haulage.

With their knowledge and expertise, the pair have helmed a team of local boat enthusiasts to undertake the careful restoration of one of the last working Tamar barges, the Lynher. From a state of ruin – abandoned at near a nearby quarry quay in the 1950s – the vessel is now a glorious example of the “peak of Victorian engineering,” as Barbara describes it. Originally built in 1891 by shipwright James Goss of Calstock, Lynher provides “physical contact with post-industrial heritage of the Plymouth waterways” – a heritage that she sees living on in her local community.

More than a pleasure boat
Lynher offers a unique, hands-on encounter with the maritime history of the inland barge system. It is therefore unsurprising that dozens of local schools have jumped at the chance to traverse the waterways as Brunel might have done. “Lynher fits hand-in-glove with education,” explains Barbara. “We run sessions on tide education, renewable resources, energy awareness and how to think differently – like the Victorians did!”

Capturing the innovative flair of 19th Century Britons, Barbara and Dominic have now set their sights on growing a carbon-neutral haulage firm, which collects and transports Fair Trade goods from beyond the Plymouth breakwater. To achieve this, they’ll be extending their fleet by restoring a seafaring Cornish lugger, the Ibis. And this is just the beginning of their contribution to the circular economy; as well as education about transport, fishing and community, the pair have plans for “social enterprise… to teach people how to cook locally grown produce on a budget… creating a multicultural kitchen culture!” says Barbara.

LEADER funding is a safe haven
To make this ambition a reality, Barbara and Dominic needed to prioritise safety and protect their investment from the uncertain weather conditions. “The boatwas heavy and awkward,” she explains. “We needed a strong, reliable engine and that’s what LEADER provided.”

Having invested money, energy and countless hours into the restoration of Lynher, nothing could be left to chance, so LEADER was approached for support. The funding paid for an engine that was finally fit for purpose, helping to secure the barge’s future and realise its potential.

Before receiving the grant, Lynher was shackled to the shore, unable to earn her keep. Now, she is a fully functional watercraft and a much-prized example of the age of industry. With the support of LEADER, Barbara and Dominic have taken inspiration from engineers of the past to create a brighter, cleaner, community-centric future, hoping, as Barbara puts it, “to reutilise our heritage to instil values that have been lost along the way.”

To find out more about Lynher Barge, go to

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