THE former skipper of a Maldon-based sailing barge returned to the deck – at the grand old age of 89.

The Thames Sailing Barge Trust welcomed Byrn Weightman back on board for a sail on the historic sailing barge Centaur, which was built in 1895.

Bryn was Centaur's last skipper before she became a lighter, taking timber from the ships in the Blackwater to Heybrigde Basin in the 1955.

Bryn, who is now 89 and lives in Wales with his wife, is wheelchair-bound but the trust managed to get him onboard for Sunday's trip down the River Blackwater, with the help of volunteers.

To commemorate his return, trust chairman and skipper for the day Peter Taylor presented Bryn with a copy of a book about Centaur's history, along with a signed limited edition print of Anne Plummer's painting of the Thames barge.

On his return to Maldon, Bryn recollected stories of his time as skipper and details of the various mates he used to work with. Bryn is thought to have been the last skipper to load a cargo of cement under sail, well after Goldsmith's sailing barge Carina.

Trust archivist John Rayment said: "This was a great opportunity for the Trust to meet someone who has a knowledge of Centaur’s trading history and helps us to continue to record the history of these iconic sailing vessels.”