For over five hundred years the trows were a common sight on the River Severn, its tributaries and esturial waters, venturing also up the Wye, into the Somerset levels, along the canals of Gloucestershire and to numerous little ports all around the coast of Wales.
Photographs in these pages show examples of these distinctive wooden sailing craft at places as far apart as Ilfracombe, Ironbridge and Caernarvon, whilst the stirring trip of the 'Wich' barge Hastings, to France with salt bringing back a cargo of gilt furniture, is recounted in detail. Colin Green has gathered here a wealth of information on the trows, tracing their possible origin, their development as navigations and the economies of trade changed, how they were constructed, the cargoes they carried, and the ports and waterways they frequented. This highly readable account is further enlivened with tales and information gleaned from the last surviving few who worked on or remember the trows and, as such, this history has been completed none too soon – in a few short years it is unlikely anyone will be left who saw a laden trow in full sail. The skills involved with building them and in sailing them in the dangerous waters of the tidal Severn are also covered in detail.
Today, the only surviving trow is Spry, almost totally rebuilt by master shipwright Alan Williams but a testament to the more than 2,000 examples which were constructed over the centuries. Unfortunately, it is unlikely she will ever set sail again, as she now resides out of the water at Ironbridge Museum. This book, it is hoped, will provide a fitting tribute to the trows, the last examples of which survived in use as dumb barges until the early 1960s, and also to those tough, skillful but often perfidious characters who sailed them, the West Country trowmen.
180 pages. 215x270mm. Printed on gloss art paper, casebound with dustjacket.