Clement Parker

Clement Wright Parker was not only on or the more important sailing barge owners he was also one of the most eccentric owners.

Clement was born in July 1864 to John and Matilda Parker.

The Parkers ran the Green Man Public House at Waterside which was the area of Bradwell on sea where the dock was situated.

As well as being publicans John Parker was a coal merchant and barge owner which gave Clem the chance to get to know barges as he grew up.

Clem followed into the family business as an assistant Coal merchant and in 1887 he married Ellen Turner from Ipswich.

They settled into family life at Dunbars, Waterside and Clem set about expanding the family empire by building a fleet of barges operating from Bradwell Quay.

Clem’s parents as well as his Uncles John Parker and Adolphus Parker lived in adjoining houses in Waterside Road ensuring a strong Parker influence on this small hamlet.

Within a few years they had moved into Peakes farmhouse which overlooked Bradwell Quay and the Blackwater estuary so that Clem could keep an eye on his barges from his home.

He insisted that his barges were kept very smartly but the crew and his fleet had black woodwork picked out in yellow with a grey deck and white quarter boards

Parker's blue flag containing a white hand on a red heart became one of the best known flags in the Blackwater.

The hand with the heart was a symbol of the Oddfellows Friendly Society which at the time had a large membership in Bradwell on Sea.

Most of the trade was to carry Hay from the farms of the Dengie 100 to ports on the English Coast although London was the most common destination.. When they were used for this purpose the barges were often nicknames as Stackies. Often so much hay was loaded that little of the barge could be seen and the boy was required to sit on top of the hay to see where the barge was steering.

Parker's barges would carry anything anywhere including grain and Coal or coke which was part of the family business as coal merchants..

The barges also made trips across the channel to France as part of their business with local rumour having that Parker expected his skippers to bring him back  a foreign treat such as cigars, perfume of brandy without worrying the Revenue men who also used Bradwell Quay as a base.

His business was successful as evidenced by the report in the Essex County Standard of a large party held on 7 October 1899 at which his daughter Nellie launched the latest new barge at the dockyard in Ipswich.

The 140 ton barge was named the Nellie Parker and destined to join the Parker fleet to carry hay ,straw and general cargo in the coasting trade.

In honour of the occasion Nellie was presented with a gold watch and chain.

Amongst the barges in the fleet were Champion, Daisy, Dover Castle, Duchess, Fanny, Lord Warden, Nellie Parker, Princess, Strood, Triton, Veronica, Verona, Victa, Violet Sybil, and Water Lily.

He also farmed a large area of Bradwell on sea including Down Hall, West Wycke, Sand Beach, Lower Glebe and Dunbars Farm

Civic Life

Clement was appointed a JP on 20 October 1920 and sat on the Southminster Bench

He represented this area on Essex County Councilor from 1910 and in 1924 was made an Alderman and was a valued member of Essex County Agricultural Committee.

He was a committee member of the Thames Sailing Barge Racing Association.

He held most offices in groups at Bradwell on Sea and was responsible for building a public hall for the villagers.


Clement had not been in great health since the death of his wife in 1930 and had deteriorated to the extent that he was taken for care at Gables Pine Tree Glen nursing home at Bournemouth in December 1922

On 20 March 1923 Clement died at the nursing home.

His estate of the considerable sum of £30,079 7sh 3d was left to his wife with the appointed trustees of George Raby, John Parker, Victor Harold Parker and solicitor Horace John Freeman.

When his father had died on 14 June 1892 his estate was valued at £3713  15sh 10p  which shows Clements business skills in amassing 10 times the fortune that his father had made.

Clement was cremated at Woking and a memorial service and funeral for his ashes was held at Bradwell on sea which attracted a very large attendance borore the ashes were intered at Bradwell Churchyard.

Mourners included sons- John and Victor, Daughters - Mrs W O Hemmington, Mrs E O Gilbee and the Misses Parker , Son in Law - Mr Gilbee, Daughter in Law - Mrs J Parker and Grandson - Mr M J Parker.

Among the other mourners were many of his employees plus Charles A Parker JP ( Rep St Pauls Cathedral), Mr G Raby JP, Mr E Pipe JP, Mr E W Sadler JP ( Chairman of Burnham Urban District Council), Mr F H Bright ( Representing Southminster Bench), Mr R H Buckley ( County Surveyor), Major Morgan (late County Surveyor), Mr & Mrs Horace J Freeman, Rev J M Carrack ( Vicar of Steeple), Mr C R Gowers ( Maldon Ironworks), Messrs H D Chillingworth, James A Brown, A S Sinclair, W J Newman,  E L Attenborough, J W Sugden, E Dilliway, J Cook, F J Prior, F G Hawkins, John Kemp, A C Attwood, W Almond ( Blackwater Lodge of Freemasons), W Stebbings and Captain H W Watson ( Burnham Lodge of Freemasons),  H F Pash and R H Fiss ( Essex Home School for Boys), H Billinghurst, R J S Tucker, J B Gill ( County Secretary), R D Drakeford, W Douglas Brown, F G Carter, W W McKellar and A S Sinclair ( Essex Farmers Union), Eric Blythe ( Ernest J Gale),  D E Tanton ( Offin & Tansey), J Palmer ( London Granite Co), Dr Lander, Mr & Mrs H W Harvey, Mr & Mrs W S Isles, Mr & Mrs J W STubbings, John Aylertt, W Barrow, CC Booth, A G Bruce, L Carmichael, W J Chell, W A Claydon, L P Coates, C M Collins, S N Goodchild, S Gurton, F W Hawkins, R G Hine ( Colchester), A C Hutchinson, A Jennings, J Last, W S Markham, E C Nix,  J O Polley ( Kelvedon), Stanley Russell, J G Sadd, R Browning Smith, J Stone, Inspector Smith, Sergeant Havers, Constables Battersbury & Theobald.

His Legacy

Clem's death coincided with the end of the golden era of sailing barges and within a few years all of the barges had been sold ending the era of the Parker empire.

Many of the Parker barges continued with trade and some are still operating today as pleasure boats.

The Duchess was sadly destroyed off the beaches of Dunkirk during the wartime evacuation.

Clements family

Wife - Ellen Parker nee Turner B 1865 at Ipswich

Children - all born at Bradwell on Sea

Marjorie Goodwin Parker b 1890

Nellie Parker b 1889

Lucy Matilda Parker b 1891

John Parker b 1893

Winifred Dorcas Parker b 1894

Victor Harold Parker b 1896

Violet Sybil Parker b 1897


Clements parents

John Parker b 1833 at Bradwell on Sea

Matilda Parker b 1831 at Palling in Norfolk


Clements Siblings - all born at Bradwell on Sea

Florence J  b 1858

Agnes Parker b 1860

Edith Parker b 1861

Adolphus b 1865

Alice M b 1867

John P b 1872

Ethel b 1873