A THREE week exhibition is set to celebrate the history of Thames sailing barges in Maldon.

The Thames Sailing Barge Trust in association with the Maeldune Heritage Centre are holding the exhibition from September 8 to September 28.

John Rayment of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust said: "The Thames sailing barge has had a major part to play in the growth of Maldon and for over 150 years have been a regular site in the Blackwater Estuary.

"Images of the sailing barge can bee seen all over Maldon, including the town's coat of arms and in the Maldon Tapestry which is held in the Maeldune Heritage Centre."

The upcoming exhibition aims to tell the story of the cargo which the iconic vessels carried, and the people who built and sailed them.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is part funding the exhibition.

It is also supporting the Trust with a grant for the restoration of sailing barge Pudge which, with Centaur, is usually moored on the Hythe Quay in Maldon.

She is currently under restoration at K J Finch Shipwrights at Fullbridge.

Next year Pudge will be celebrating her 100th birthday and during her trading life was involved in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk.

The vessel is registered as a Dunkirk Little Ship.

The Trust aims to preserve the vessels but also provide the opportunity for the public to sail on them, and to educate children and the general public on their history.

John added: "We regularly hold open days and events and run very successful Children’s Days throughout the year."

The Red Sails Over the Blackwater exhibition is open between 11am and 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday at the Maeldune Heritage Centre and is free to enter.

For more information visit www.bargetrust.org or contact John Rayment at events@bargetrust.org.