A charity is hoping work will soon start on the first Thames sailing barge to be built in more than 80 years.

The Sea-Change Sailing Trust, based at Blackwater Marina, in Mayland, provides opportunities for about 200 people who are not in employment, education or training, have special needs or are experiencing social exclusion.

Up until now the trust, which was set up in 2007, has relied on hiring barges.

But by 2016 it is hoping to substantially reduce its running costs by using its own.

Trustees are in the process of raising funds to have a £600,000 replica of the Thames barge, Blue Mermaid, built.

Blue Mermaid was the last Thames sailing barge to be built, back in 1930, but was blown up by a mine during the Second World War in 1941.