Museum housed history of shipping trade in Faversham and Sittingbourne area
Just three hours after locking its doors for the season, one of the country’s leading sailing barge museums was attacked by arsonists.
A large collection of shipwrights’, blacksmiths’, and riggers’ tools as well as models, plans and photographs on display in the original sail loft and forge which were destroyed by the fire. It is not known yet how much damage was done to the associated barge yard, which included the original barge repair blocks, boiler and steam chest and other facilities for the repair of traditional craft.
Staff at the museum said a series of recent break-ins had resulted in security cameras being installed. Forensic experts continue to examine the scene for clues.
Dolphin Yard – formerly Burley’s Barge-yard on Crown Quay Lane in Sittingbourne, Kent, had been converted to a museum devoted to the history of the fleet of local Thames Sailing Barge and the industries that supported them.
The Museum is located on Milton Creek, a tidal inlet running from Milton and Sittingbourne to the Swale. From the mid-19th Century until the Second World War the yards on the creek had produced over 500 sailing barges. By 1968 the Dolphin Yard site was owned by Bourncrete concrete ltd, but was leased to the newly established Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum Trust who saw it as one of the most unaltered small shipyards of its type.
It is not known whether the Cambria – the last UK vessel to carry a commercial cargo under sail – was moored at the museum at the time or whether she sustained any damage.