Monday, February 20, 2006

Dutch barges and Quadrophenia

How do Dutch barges and Quadrophenia hang together?
Bear with me, I'll try to explain.
When I started reading whatever was available about Pete Townshend some two years ago, I came across his Dutch barge. That detail stood out for me, given my special interest in the subject. Here is that barge, in front of Pete's Oceanic Studios.

Erik-Jan Geniets, one of the faithful commentators of these blog pages, wondered how so many Dutch barges ended up on the Thames. Fugitives in the 2nd World war? Just imported by aficionados? Hard to say, but my guess is the majority were just imported. Erik-Jan sent me a link to a Dutch page about an eel barge, photographed near Custom House in London at the beginning of the 20th century. Closer inspection of the image shows that the hull is of the same type (tjalk) as Pete's barge. This mooring was reserved exclusively for eel barges.
A search with the words "eel barge" resulted in a 1984 message about Pete acquiring his... eel barge! It is very, very improbable that his barge was ever used for that purpose, they were built of wood, not steel. More likely Londoners of that era referred to Dutch barges as eel barges. But then again I don't know the complete background of this particular vessel.
Needless to say that Pete and eel are connected: Eel Pie Productions, but also the liner notes of Quadrophenia, where main character Jimmy recounts:
"...and when the telly finished he’d storm out of the house like a lunatic to get to the Eel and Pie shop before it closed. He’d come home with enough for an army. I never liked the eels..."

I wonder if Pete will be interested in reading this. It's not your usual list of things he knows about himself, I think...

Guest of the week

A very elegant barge of the type 'luxe motor'. Luxe because they were much more comfortable than the sailing barges of that era, motor to distinguish them from those sailing barges.
The name Nieuwe Zorg means new concern. Holland is a country of calvinists, you know...
Yet we find a traditional frivolity, painted on the bows.
Photos Koos Fernhout


Erik-Jan said...

Hi Koos,
Very nice story. The "Nieuwe Zorg" is a ship to fall in love with. It looks pretty original. Still a cargo hull instead of a 'living'?
See also my addition to your "Treasures" message.
Kind regards,

Bernard MERCIER said...

Your information is very good. Thank-You for this.
It is really a amazing boatevent and I am very happy you enjoyed it. If you want more information :
I am secretary of the organisation en I can give you more informations.

Everybody welcome!
Next "Pardon Batellerie-Plaisance-Marine" (Beroepsvaart-Pleziervaart-Marine): saturday 30 september and sunday 1st october 2006.

Dale said...

Dear Koos

Your fountain is overflowing again!

I love the photo of Pete's barge in front of his studio.
Is that the one he calls The Boathouse, as well? I had no idea how "unofficial-looking" Oceanic really is.
It really does have an attic...

I also like the photo of the Nieuwe Zorg & thanks for translating the name - interesting.

That is funny about the eels, as I have always associated Pete with eels - his stories always mention eels & not to mention the famous Eel Pie Productions!

Eel pie - Yuck. I can't imagine eating it!


elena said...

Hi Koos,

This is very interesting, thanks for sharing...I'm sure Pete would love to read this...
Are people of The Johanna Jacoba really contacting me?? I'll be pleased, thank you!!!


Anne-Marie said...

Hi Koos,
What a great picture of the Boathouse and the barge. We saw it when we took our trip to Richmond a few years back and thought it needed a paint job.


I am that I am said...

Hi Koos

do u actually float over to Britain in your barge?

greetings and groetjes


Koos F said...

My impression of the Nieuwe Zorg is like yours: just using the original living quarters, the hold empty.
Thanks for the invitation to participate in the Heritage Days in Naarden.
Val will not be able to attend, I might, provided I don't go to my 'own' event in Lille, France, that I organised for almost 10 years. Will keep you posted. It seems there is a straight canal from Muiden to Naarden?

Your festival is terribly interesting too! I could go rushing from one rally to the other! Maybe people who read this come to see what it is like? (But all the way from Canada and Spain...)

It took me some time to figure out that Oceanic Studio is in The Boat House - which I think it really must have been, with the roll-up doors to store rowing boats behind. Did you know Pete spent a period as an apprectice with a wooden-boat builder when he had enough of being a rock star for a while?
The barge is there as an extra studio. Yes, the Attic is a real one, as we have seen, with rather limited headroom. The picture shows why.
Eel pie I don't know, but just smoked eel, yummie! It must have been an important thing in post-war London.

The couple of the Johanna Jacoba are aware of your existence, don't know if they can find the time, they are very busy.
Thanks so much for your appreciation!

You were so well informed, I suppose you were aware that this was Pete's barge? Last September it was in some need of cleaning, but the paintwork looked o.k.

Love you alll

Koos F said...

Hi Terry

It is possible to cross the English Channel from Dunkirk to the Thames estuary, but the weather forecast must be very favourable, so that crossing can take weeks, both going there and back again. If I had alll the time in the world I might do it. Have to remember though that, once across, I can only travel up the Thames and back. 4,5m / 15ft is too wide for practically all the other waterways in that part of the country.
A handier option would be to hire a boat there.

Koos F said...

Oh and, Erik-Jan
I'd very much appreciate receiving an official invitation for the "Naardense Vaardagen" / "Open monumentendag".
You are too kind.

PTfan said...

First of all I had no idea that Pete had a barge. Second of all, cool Quad link. Quad is my all time favorite album ever in teh entire universe!

Koos F said...

My pleasure to give you info that was so far unknown to you, dear PTFan. Do you own the Who's Next dvd? Then play it again and look out the on-screen window during playback. What do you see? Right, the mast and derrick of the Grand Cru, as the barge seems to be called. The original idea was to take her across the English Channel, travel through the beautiful French canals while writing songs on board.

At times other Who albums than Quadrophenia become my favourites, Live at Leeds for example. But then Quad assumes its place again, very simply. Thanks very much for your visit to my pages.

Erik-Jan said...

"Live at Leeds" my all time favourite. I bought the first one somewhere in 1970. The one with the nice cover with all the art work in. The record it self was worn in no time so I bought a second one. Cheap cover. Pitty.
Worn also and bought the third. Then CD's came so I bouth a digital version. Then a remastered and restored version appeared on CD. Just what I needed. Finally good sound quality. A year later...a special edition double CD with the whole concert restored and awesome. Bought that one also....Wanna know about "Tommy"? The first......

James Casey said...

I know someone who imports Dutch barges into the UK, so there is certainly a large market now if there wasn't thirty or so years ago.

Anthonetta said...

Hi Koos,
Nice de "Nieuwe Zorg".
We met Siem & Els in Groningen last summer,very nice people, and a beautiful ship.
His brother Teun was there too, they did perform how to load sand in the old days. I wil put a picture on my blog.
See you, Carla

Casper de Zeeuw said...

Look at to find out more about the eel barge in London.