At one time Faversham was a thriving commercial port, second only to London in the numbers of vessels engaged in the coastal trade in the Thames Estuary.
Here, Richard Hugh Perks tells the story of the men and ships plying this trade between the 18th Century and the 20th (apparently a sailing barge last brought coal to Faversham in 1966!). It complements and to some extent reproduces the same author’s “Sailing Barges of Faversham”, but the emphasis here is on the deeper-draught vessels trading between town and more distant ports in the North of England and Scotland and across the North Sea.
The risks involved were enormous - most vessels suffered mishaps and some were sunk and raised again more than once, and the toll on their crews is hard to imagine, although readers will be heartened by the rescue of Tiddles, the ship’s cat of the Speedwell!
In telling the story of the coasters the author recounts the rise and fall of Faversham’s port and the industries it served, including the comedy of errors that resulted in the digging out of the Creek Navigation, and the triumph and disaster of the brick and gunpowder industries. The coasters carried local produce and raw materials and also passengers (as long as the latter were happy to share a bed with up to three other people!)
Well worth reading for anyone interested in the history of Faversham or the history of the small sailing coasters that once carried much of Britain’s commerce.