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Author Topic: JOHN HUGGENS of Sittingbourne.  (Read 4934 times)

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Offline grandarog

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Re: JOHN HUGGENS of Sittingbourne.
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2015, 07:24:40 »
Thanks for that ,KeithJG.Very interesing ,quite an adventure for you as a laddy. We are a little off topic but still relevant as John was a Barge owner and operator.

Here,s a bit about the "Pudge"
Courtesty of
She has had a very interesting life as well.

Built in 1922 by London & Rochester Trading Co., Pudge is a Thames sailing barge with a hull construction of pitch pine on oak with a flush deck, the steering wheel on a ‘short spindle’ without the usual raised cabin top. Originally spritsail rigged with bowsprit an auxiliary oil engine made by The Bergius Co.Ltd of Glasow was installed in 1932. Pudge is one of the last wooden barges to be built, (although further barges were built of steel)
Her working life as a cargo carrier was interrupted in spectacular fashion by the Second World War when she was requisitioned in May 1940 whilst in Tilbury, drafted to Dover and thence to Dunkirk to aid the evacuation. Three barges including Pudge were taken in tow by a tug and crossed the Channel under cover of darkness. As they reached the beaches at Dunkirk an explosion lifted Pudge out of the water and, in the words of her skipper, “she came down the right way up”. She took onboard survivors and set off for England, picking up a tow from a tug on the way, to arrive safely back at  Ramsgate.  Pudge is one of only four of the Dunkirk Spritsail  Barges that survive. Pudge is a member of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships and is entitled to fly the flag of St. George.
She then resumed her normal trade into and from London docks, Ipswich and the Medway ports with grain, cattle cake, fertilizer, etc. until her last freight of pineapple juice in 1968 when she was bought out of the trade as a twin hatched motor barge by the Thames Barge Sailing Club. Re-rigged by members for summer weekend sailing and chartering and winter maintenance based at Maldon she was re-engined in 1990 after her passage to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dunkirk.
The TSBC evolved into The Thames Sailing Barge Trust in 2003, and Pudge has continued to run charter trips with the aim of preserving and teaching the skills needed to sail and maintain the traditions of the working sailing barge. A staged programme of renewal began in 2005 at Maylandsea with a rebuild of the bows, progressing to the deck and stern as finances permitted with a return to sail in 2007. Restoration work continues to maintain her fitness for charitable sailing work. We are currently trying to raise £350,000 towards the renewal of all her hatch, deck and associated timbers and hope to start this work in 2015.
In June 2012 Pudge was present at the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant on the Thames as part of the ‘Avenue of Sail’.


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Re: JOHN HUGGENS of Sittingbourne.
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2015, 18:08:07 »
Thanks for that grandarog......

You know i say i always put up a picture in Guess the Place where i have been associated with and as i said i worked just down the road and used the pub local to Huggens College at lunch times.

Well this is the first association.....when i was 11yrs and my Mum died i was an only child and our neighbour was a skipper on his boat which belonged to London & Rochester Trading.

He asked my Father one day if he minded me going with him up to see his barge "Pudge" as it was moored at Northfleet, more or less for a treat for me.

We travelled to Northfleet train station and walked up that gentle hill across the road and walked all the way down College Road with that big long wall on the left which surrounded the Almshouses. We went right down to the river front where his tied up rowing boat was and he skulled us out a little way to the sailing barge moored at a large buoy in the river Thames.

The Thames has a strong fast current and can be 9 knots when going out.

I remember climbing through the hatch and being inside with the smell of tar etc.

So i found these pictures on Google images of the Pudge in 1957 just two years earlier than when i went aboard her and others with her all restored in 2012.

I did help out my neighbour in 1968 working on his other 500 ton coaster "Jubilation" while he found a permanent 3rd hand.

Offline grandarog

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Re: JOHN HUGGENS of Sittingbourne.
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2015, 18:41:17 »
A Bit More:-

    John Huggens father and grandfather before him were corn dealers owning a vessel called ‘The Phoenix’ in which they traded round the Kent coast buying corn for the London market. Now you can see why John followed the family business owning a number of barges.
  He was also a brick maker and became a wealthy man.
    Initially he intended to build some almshouses for his old bargemen for their retirement but during his business life he came in contact with people of all classes and he became aware
of a great need among the middle and educated classes for a place for them to spend their declining years. So he decided to found a haven for aged gentlefolk to

‘run their little bark into the smooth and tranquil waters of the summer evening of their life’

quite a poet was John.
       Although John’s idea of almshouses for his employees was not taken up, he did not forget his old barge masters and they were given pensions and some of them lived in the vicinity of the College.
When John died in 1865 had a very elaborate funeral which he had made plans for years earlier where 25 of his Collegians attended. They were provided with silk bands and scarves.
   John’s coffin was made of Essex oak which he had purchased and prepared 17 years before his death at the age of 90.

Also :-
              In 1969 under John Wills, the last managing director, Wills & Packham closed down, leaving their last remaining brickfield –in Crown Quay Lane - to be developed as Sittingbourne
Industrial Park. The old office built in 1835 by John Huggens who started the brickfield was pulled down some years ago.

Offline grandarog

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Re: JOHN HUGGENS of Sittingbourne.
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2015, 18:25:57 »
Thanks Keith JG.
Here,s another snippet. It would appear The gateway was past its sell by date when it was demolished.

     John Huggens himself, in stony effigy, is seen over the magnificent gateway. He is seated wearing  a frock coat and  in an uncomfortable attitude, displaying a scroll or the charter of his “College.” 
    The bountiful gentleman is sadly weather worn,.
   The factory fumes of this industrial district have wrought havoc with the Portland stone from which he is sculptured. 


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Re: JOHN HUGGENS of Sittingbourne.
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2015, 20:00:37 »
grandarog i am absolutely amazed that you have found all that information?

I also want to thank you for making a thread about this man as it just shows you what good some Human Beings can do even then...

I did wonder about the Father & Son thingy but now see that he was 90 when he died so therefore explains it all for me .

Thanks again.

Offline grandarog

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JOHN HUGGENS of Sittingbourne.
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2015, 18:15:49 »
As a follow up to a recent Guess item I have collated the following .Hope you find it interesting.

John Huggins  Bn Sittingbourne 1776 
Baptized 23 May 1776
 a Son of John and Deborah (nee Pordage) Huggens.
(he had 3 siblings Richard ,George and Mary Ann)
His parents John  and Deborah were Married at Saint Nicholas,Rochester, on 05 Aug 1775

John is said to have started Sittingbourne’s barge Building heritage  by building the first barge in Sittingbourne at Conyer  in 1803.
He certainly owned a 37 ton Thames Sailing Barge that was Named “Sittingbourne “(reg No 162723  built at Sittingbourne in 1857.*
He was one of the 5  leading Citizens and Principle Landowners of Sittingbourne and district along with William Valanve ,Edward Twopenny , David Morrison and the Heirs of Sir Edward Hales, in 1847.
He allegedly made most of his fortune during the Napoleonic Wars of 1803-1815.
He was  a Brickfield owner and Brick Maker. Cornfactor and Hoyman (Cargo Boat Owner)
By 1840 according to the Tithe payment schedules , it appears he owned most of the Crown Quay area of Sittingbourne, including the Quay Wharf and Store houses. His Brickfield was at Crown Quay and in later years became Wills and Packhams (still known as Huggens Works . W&P operated there until the 1960,s or later.
He also owned various houses and Orchards in the area.
I have not got conclusive evidence but I don’t think he ever married ,which would explain his decision to use some of his fortune for charity ,building the Alms houses known as Huggens College at Northfleet .He built  houses for the poor and gave them an income of £1.00 a week . He called it his “little charity.”
(It would appear the local council at Sittingbourne were much the same as SBC today in missing a sensible planning option with their heads in the sand.)
Having been refused planning permission in his home town of Sittingbourne he chose Northfleet,which was then a pretty village of cherry orchards and arable land ,as the site for his “little charity”..

He died 11 August 1865 in his 90th year and was buried in St Botolphs Churchyard .Northfleet.
There is a fine Memorial .with the following inscription.
“The mortal remains of John HUGGENS Esqr late of Sittingbourne who died on the 11th of August 1865 in the 90th year of his age. In the year 1844 He founded and munificently endowed The College in this Parish which bears his name.”
The Funeral cortège travelled from Sittingbourne to Northfleet

After his death his charity was administered by a Board of Trustees who ensured his wishe were carried out to complete the college.

Heres a bit about His legacy to the future.

Huggens' College was founded by the Sittingboume barge owner, corn dealer and brickmaker John Huggens (1776-1865). Huggens originally planned a college in Sittingbourne for the 'elderly of middle or educated class of person' but opposition from various towns people caused him to consider elsewhere and Northfleet received the benefit. The profits from his business, in addition to his own frugal habits of life, enabled Huggens to amass the fortune needed for such a sociaal undertaking. The building work began in 1844 and in 1847, the first eight beneficiaries were shown their hornes by John Huggens on his 71st birthday.
 By 1872 the accommodation forthe college had been completed. With the rapid advance of industry and housing in the area around Huggens' College, the foundation soon became an oasis of peace behind its impressive brick wall perimeter. Huggens' wish to provide for the collegians was carried out after his death by the Board of Trustees.
Huggens died on 11th August 1865 and was buried on 19th August at Northfleet Churchyard. His hearse was heavily decorated and came from Sittingbourne amid much ceremony. Huggens had already planned his funeral long before his death and everything ran smoothly on the day. The original Huggens memorial  was replaced in 1871 by the present cross.
Sourced from Google and FMP.


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