Valerie Fenwick working on a rare 19th-century sailing barge, which is being prepared for refloating at Rye harbour in East Sussex.

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The Independent Online
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Valerie Fenwick working on a rare 19th-century sailing barge, which is being prepared for refloating at Rye harbour in East Sussex. It has been rescued by members of Britain's Nautical Archaeology Society from the banks of the river Rother where it was abandoned in the early 1950s.

The 50ft vessel, The Primrose, built in 1880, had lain under 40 tons of mud until it was excavated and then moved to the harbour yesterday by the society. Known as a Rye barge, it is believed to be the only one of its type to survive. The barge was built of Sussex oak and elm, and was originally used to export hops to France, and to carry everything from glass and bricks to wool, furniture and livestock along canals and rivers in south-east England.

In her heyday, The Primrose would have been propelled by sail or punt poles but yesterday she was towed by trawler from the point where she had been abandoned, half a mile downstream. Nautical archaeologists plan to sail her 11 miles along the coast to Hastings, where she will become a major exhibit at the town's Shipwreck Heritage Centre.

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