Lady Daphne

Historic Thames Sailing Barge

Charlestown is the home port to the 1923 Thames Sailing Barge ‘Lady Daphne’. She was first in the Harbour in 1926 when she served as part of the Thomas Watson Shipping fleet transporting local china clay.


Lady Daphne returned to the Harbour in 2022, sailed down from London by her owners, Sam and Andy. They say “We’ve brought Lady Daphne back to her roots, in a bid to widen the audience exposed to Thames Sailing Barges and all their history, and diversify her use once more. We aim to carve a new path in her iconic history, which connects her back to the people and places of her younger years.”

Sam and Andy have a varied programme of events and workshops, including live music, cinema nights and family-friendly educational experiences.

Lady Daphne is available for private hire, for wedding receptions, parties and dining evenings.

  • Standing capacity in summer season (inside / outside): 80
  • Standing capacity in winter season (inside only): 50
  • Seated capacity: 35

If you’re interested in hiring Lady Daphne for your special event, get in touch at


Lady Daphne was built by the Short Brothers of Rochester, Kent in 1923, and is one of the very few wooden barges built after the First World War.

Her cargoes included china clay, Portland stone, cement and grain. She held a reputation for speed, having once passed from the London Docks to Ipswich loaded with 190 tons in just 14 hours.

In December 1927 Lady Daphne had a lucky escape. On passage from Weymouth to Fowey in a thick snow storm driven by an Easterly gale, the skipper was washed overboard and lost. The mate and the third hand burned improvised flares as the vessel drifted out of control. At last the barge was spotted by the Lizard lifeboat station, late on Christmas Day.

The Lizard lifeboat was launched and the two crew rescued, with Lady Daphne left to run on into the night with only the pet canary left on board. A day later she was seen heading for rocks on the Isles of Scilly, and the St Mary’s lifeboat was duly launched. When the lifeboat crew boarded, Lady Daphne was still underway under jib alone, about three hundred yards from the coast of Tresco, and the crew were surprised to find nobody, save the canary, on board. One of the lifeboatmen put the helm over and beached the barge in two feet of water on safe shelving sand.

Within a year Lady Daphne had been fully refitted and was back in service, and she continued trading for another 45 years.

Andy & Sam have been Daphne’s custodians since 2016, and have completed extensive restoration and repair works. Her arrival in Charlestown is the next chapter in her story, and the Harbour Team are excited to have her here.