A SAILING barge has been given an honour by a national council for historic ships.

The council of experts at National Historic Ships UK announced their flagships by appointing three from across the UK.

Thames sailing barge Kitty was recognised for range of events the team have planned throughout the season, together with her crew’s commitment to engage and educate passengers in the preservation of traditional sailing skills.

She is one of Maldon-based Topsail Charters’ five barges.

Expert Eric Kentley presented vessel owner J P Lodge, manager Annie Meadows and skipper Kevin Burtonshaw with a pennant and a grant of £250 to spent on maintaining the boat.

Mr Kentley said: “We are really pleased to be giving the Flagship pennant to Kitty.

“This immaculate vessel is a truly worthy winner and a great representative of all historic vessels.”

The regional awards recognise the impact that many vessels make in their home cruising grounds in terms of public appeal and numbers of passengers carried.

Council director Hannah Cunliffe said: “Our three regional flagships have all shown their enthusiasm for raising the profile of UK maritime heritage and we look forward to working closely with them in the months ahead.”

Kitty was built in 1895 by Cann of Harwich and was one of Horlocks fleet of grain barges operating in the Thames Estuary.

She continued working until 1955 and was converted back to sail in the 1970s and became one of the first of the new generation of charter barges under the famous skipper John Fairbrother.

Bosses at Topsail Charters claim Kitty is one of the “prettiest” wooden barges sailing today.