Book Review-‘One of Howard’s: The life and times of John Howard, Maldon shipwright 1849–1915 and a history of shipbuilding in Maldon, by D. Patient,
On 30 April 1859, the Illustrated London News commented that ‘there is not much room for the exhibition of naval architecture in a sailing barge’. This was a common perception of vessels which were built as load-carrying workhorses for short sea and river transport, and which were an everyday sight, often in large numbers, in estuaries and rivers around the country, especially in the Thames estuary. They had to be strongly constructed for load- carrying capacity, for regularly drying out on tidal wharves, and capable of working by a crew of master and mate. The seemingly identical appearance of Thames barges might suggest a conservatism in building with little regard to advances in design or technology.
But such a view would be quite wrong, as is made abundantly clear in this volume. David Patient has produced a history of the pre-eminent Thames barge shipwright John Howard, comprehensively contextualized in the larger history of ship and boat building in Maldon. This sumptuously produced and illustrated volume brings to life a career in design and building characterized throughout by a keen sense of improvement and innovation…