Ramsgate Arts Barge vessel Vreindschap arrives in the harbour

The Ramsgate Arts Barge vessel has arrived Photo Brian Whitehead

A 120-year-old Dutch cargo barge saved by a community group from possibly being scrapped has arrived in Ramsgate harbour this morning (August 29).

The Ramsgate Arts Barge group was set up in April in a bid to save and restore the Vreindschap (Friendship), a 50m by 7m 19th century vessel.

The craft had been denied mooring in Barking, where the plan was to convert her into a community centre, and faced the possibility of being scrapped by the Port of London Authority (PLA).

Ramsgate Arts Barge has taken on the project to convert the vessel to an arts centre. The initiative is being captained by Zuza Czarniavska, an isle artist who, prior to moving to Ramsgate, lived and worked on a barge for seven years continuously cruising the rivers Lea and Stort.

Photo Brian Whitehead

After starting a family and a new life as a land-lubber in Ramsgate, she’s now keen to invite the local creative community to jump on board the project and fall in love with barging too!

She is supported by Helen Pipins and Gemma Dempsey. Helen is an experienced journalist known locally for her role as editor of the Ramsgate Recorder. Gemma is a radio producer involved with several Thanet initiatives, such as Screaming Alley and the Festival of Sound.

The vessel was built and operated by the Van der Veen family of Amsterdam until 1994. In September 1998 Vriendschap left Holland for England.


The hope is for the barge to become a creative hub with workshops, talks, exhibitions, performances, film screenings, radio output and more.

Ramsgate Arts Barge hope the vessel can be centre stage for celebrations marking Ramsgate’s 200th anniversary of royal harbour status in 2021.

Find the facebook page here


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