A Sovereign Binge

My Nan and Grandad Clark lived in No. 11, next door to the Mission Hall.  My Grandfather’s name was William.  He was a tugmaster and worked for Lawes.  He got a cottage when they were newly-built.  He had just got married.  He used to tow barges down the river and was away an awful lot.  My grandfather used to get paid in sovereigns.  He would put the money in a box on a shelf at the top of the stairs.  He would smash the box when it was full, then go on a drinking binge for 3 weeks.  He died aged 51.  He and my grandmother had six sons.  One drowned at the age of twelve, crushed between two barges, one put there by his father.

River jobs passed from father to son like in the docks, and most of my uncles also went on to the river.  My dad was the youngest of the family.

Barge & tug

A barge being pulled by a tug, on the Thames at Creekmouth