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Sunday, 4 March 2012


A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. The word originally could refer to any small boat; the modern meaning arose around 1480.

The world's first ever patent was granted in 1421 to architect Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence to make a barge crane to transport marble.

During the later Middle Ages, members of the English nobility whose homes were on the banks of the Thames,  almost exclusively made use of barges. These were equipped most luxuriously. In 1454, Sir John Norman, Mayor of London, had his own barge built. It was of impressive dimensions and noble appearance, with silver oars. 

During the reign of Henry VIII , a bargeman's occupation was much sought after, and many ruffians and persons of low repute joined their rank. Such unsuitable individuals introduced an element of unruliness among bargemen and caused frequent collisions and accidents. Matters went so out of hand that urgent control measures were needed. For this purpose, in 1555, the Watermen's Union was established.

The long pole used to maneuver or propel a barge have given rise to the saying "I wouldn't touch that [subject/thing] with a barge pole."

Source Europress Encyclopedia

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