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The maritime traditions of Tollesbury recorded in glass

The tower of St. Mary's Church, Tollesbury, Essex, was for centuries a seamark for mariners. It is built of septaria-stone, dredged from the sea off Essex by Tollesbury smacksmen in bygone centuries. Sketch by Roger Finch.
TOLLESBURY, Essex, at the head of a salty creek and close to the Blackwater, having been renowned for its smacksmen and professional yacht crews- skippers, mates, mastheadmen and fo'c's'le hands.
One of its sons, Frederick E. Hasler - Tollesbury born but long resident in New York - decided in the early 1960's to commemorate them, and the ships they sailed, in a manner that would give them a lasting memorial.
Having already generously provided for the restoration of the centuries-old St. Mary's church of his native village, he proposed that a stained glass window there would provide a fitting way of recording the Tollesburymen's maritime traditions.
The overall design of the project was left to an expert in the demanding craft of stained glass while Roger Finch produced the related drawings of the "America's Cup" contenders, and the local shipping, which were Mr. Hasler's choice of theme.
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This panel shows a billyboy, a ketch barge, a 'stackie' Thames barge and the oyster smack Alberta CK318. These drawings of the windows were made by Roger Finch.

They say that there has been at least one man from the village aboard every Cup Challenger since "Galatea". Sufficient reason then, for one long panel of the design to picture the long struggle for the Cup and it was the donor's wish that this was to be entitled "Endeavour".
The other window (left) depicts the little ships which were to be found in the East Coast havens when the sea-borne life of villages, such as Tollesbury, flowed strongest.
Billy-boys, sporting square topsails rolled up from the North with black-diamonds, boomie-barges worked from the quay with English wheat, stackie-barges loaded turnips below hatches and hay above for London.
Above all the smacks worked near and far, dredging, shrimping and trawling.
Here Mr. Hasler's directions to the artist were explicit .... "I wonder if you would mind making the smack CK 318. This was the 'Alberta' owned by a man named Pettican, who was my Congregational School Teacher when I lived in Tollesbury from 1893 to '96. . . . In 1900 I spent a two-week holiday on the 'Alberta' shrimping."
Now in his eighties he can recall all this and more and his wish to commemorate them has produced a unique memorial to glow on long after the last memory of the ships and men has faded.

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This panel shows the link between Tollesbury men and the battles for the America's Cup. At the top of the window 'America', and then the British boats 'Genesta', 'Shamrock' and 'Endeavour'.

Reproduced from an article in Yachts and Yachting published Friday, February 19th. 1965 - with thanks.
Roger Walker 7th. August 2001