FLAX FOR SMEED
Milton Creek in Sittingbourne has had a long history of sailing barges and barge building, and in the past, it was also a busy barge port due to its close proximity to London and its local production of bricks, cement, grain and paper which would then be transported to London and elsewhere around the coast and inner waterways. This archive collects disused flax linen sails and rope once used on the sailing barges as well as other sailing barge artefacts. This archive is a productive agent for the growing and making of sails: flax growing, retting, spinning etc. The aquatic process surrounding the production of the flax linen sails has been integrated into the spatial strategy of this social production. Its uses are for these processes, as a sailing school, making and repairing sails, stitching into the network of historic dockyards across the UK, especially the maritime community of Dolphin Yard Sailing Barge Museum a few hundred meters north of the site which was destroyed by fire in 2008, which still awaits a new life. In addition to the demand for flax linen on the sailing barges, rope is also a need and so this archive will also house rope. The rope would be made at The Historic Dockyard in Chatham and would be transported by a barge every so often to the archive to be used on the sailing barges as and when needed. The used and worn flax sails will be exhibited on the façades of the building to celebrate their use on the barges and the different tonal qualities of the used sails will convey their age.