Thames Barge Mural

An historic maritime scene down by the Thames

Thames Barge Mural, ErithOn the side of the former White Hart pub in Erith town centre is a fantastic mural depicting a scene from the end of the 19th century, and a vanished form of transport: a Thames Spritsail Barge.

Painted by artist Gary Drostle in Spring 2005, the mural cleverly uses the typical crimson-brown sails of moored Thames barges as a form of proscenium arch to frame its main subject: the barge 'Chance', sailing into Erith beneath a pink-blue Turneresque sky.

Now disappeared from the river, spritsail barges got their name from the 'sprit' or spar that supports the mainsail. The 'Chance' was a genuine Thames barge, skippered by Robert 'The Devil' Austen who used to drink in the White Hart. At the beginning of the 20th century over 2000 similar barges sailed up and down the Thames estuary to other ports in England and even to the continent, carrying cargoes of sand, coal, grain, bricks and a wide variety of other commodities, but their use declined until, in 1970, the 'Cambria' transported the last ever cargo carried by a Thames barge under sail. The distinctive colour of the sails, so well reproduced in the mural, came from the mix of materials used to waterproof them: red ochre, cod oil and seawater.

Erith had a long association with Thames barges, and was the starting point for the annual Thames Barge race, first held in 1863.

The mural, which won a Bexley Civic Society Charles Burr Award in 2005, covers the entire south wall of the former pub - Drostle even painted over downpipes and a refrigeration unit - and includes an amazing amount of detail in its depiction of sky and water.


In very good condition.

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This mural is in good condition

Where to find it

Wharfside Close, Erith DA8 1QY

The mural is painted on the side of the former White Hart pub, now a bar called 'Potion'. From Erith Riverside shopping centre, with the Post Office on your left, the White Hart is directly opposite. The mural can be seen from Wharfside Close, the road that leads to Morrisons Supermarket
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#885566 #552233 #AA8899 #88AACC #8899AA #223344 #556677 #BBAA99 #997777 #663333


11 m x 8 m Person for scale


How to get there

99, 229, 428, 469, 602, 669, B12

© London Mural Preservation Society 2021