The Thalatta was built in 1906 by Mclearon of Harwich . The sailing barges that came from this yard were reckoned to be the finest that could be found anywhere on the coast , for he was also a builder of wooden lightships for Trinity House , and this is proof of the exceptionally high quality of his work and materials . The barge was constructed of the finest English oak with pitchpine decks , and she was designed to carry 150 tons of cargo drawing 7 feet 3 inches . Her length is 90 feet and she measures 20 feet across the deck . Her present draught is 4 feet 6 inches.

Among the earliest cargoes loaded by the Thalatta was malt for Ireland , and this clearly indicated that she was considered to be a good sea going vessel - a quality which not all of her kind could claim . She carried some coal freights to the Continent before being taken over by the Royal Navy in 1914 for use as a fleet supply vessel . The Navy gave her a small semi-diesel engine as a n auxiliary , but according to all accounts this was never very much use to her , and it was removed a year or two after her return to civilian employment . Between the two world wars the Thalatta was engaged in carrying an assortment of general cargoes on the East coast and in Continental waters , until sometime in the 1930ís when she came under the flag of R & W Paul . Throughout the second world war she continued to serve as a merchant vessel under sail , sometimes coming under attack from enemy aircraft , and encountering the deadly sea mines ; but after hostilities ended it was decided that she should once again be given an auxiliary engine - this time a more powerful one , which served her faithfully for over a quarter of a century .

R & W Paulsí work was largely between the London Docks and the Suffolk port of Ipswich where the firm had its principal mills and maltings and also maintained a shipyard and a sail - loft for its large fleet of sailing barges. Foreign grown cereals - wheat , beans , maize and barley - were brought into Ipswitch by water to be processed and then carried away again by the barges in the form of animal food and malt for brewing . It was clean , healthy work for a wooden ship , and because of it the Thalatta has survived in sound enough condition to start a completely new career as a school ship . She was taken out of cargo work in 1966 and since that time thousands of boys and girls have sailed in her over a distance of thousands of miles . A new Kelvin diesel engine of 112 bhp was installed in 1973 .

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