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Restoration of The Royal Barge

Zamani has been granted the responsibility by the Peoples Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar to restore the Royal Barge to its former glory and to be a center piece following the restoration and regeneration of the Peoples Palace Museum. This vessel is also considered to be the oldest surviving examples of White’s 19th century workmanship.


This heritage artifact captures the imagination of the global influences of the time very well; Oman- Zanzibar- Great Britain, during the reign of H.M Queen Victoria.


Sultan of Zanzibar 1870-1888

Sultan Sayyid Barghash Bin Said

Sultan Sayyid Barghash Bin Said is credited with building much of the infrastructure of Stone Town, including piped water, public baths, a police force, roads, parks, hospitals and large administrative buildings such as the (Bait el-Ajaib) House of Wonders. He was perhaps the last Sultan to maintain a measure of true independence from European control. He did consult with European "advisors" who had immense influence, but he was still the central figure they wrestled to control. He crossed wits with diplomats from Britain, America, Germany, France and Portugal and was often able to play one country off another in a skillful endgame of pre-colonial chess.








The company, which took its name from John Samuel White, came to

prominence during the Victorian era. During the 20th Century it specialised

in building destroyers for both the Royal Navy and export customers. Maker

of stationary engines.


1694 The Cowes shipyard was established and continued to supply ships

to the Admiralty for more than 200 years.


17th century: Whites were building ships at Broadstairs for the Iceland

fisheries and the Russian trade.


1746 John White was head of the firm.


1802 In his book "Wight, Biography of an Island" Paul Hyland explains that

the company moved from Broadstairs (Kent) to Cowes in 1802, where they

began work on the 'Thetis' Yard on the 'salterns' and marsh between the

Medina and Arctic roads.


1805 Company was founded by John White. For some years, John White

constructed small, special lifeboats.

Records indicate that by the 1850s White's docks, with its steam sawmills

and engine shops, and the mast and block shops, provided work for around

500 craftsmen.


The Sultan of Zanzibar's Royal Barge


From investigations it was discovered that Sayyid Barghash Bin Said, The Sultan

of Zanzibar from 1870 to 1888, was invited to pay a state visit to England in 1875,

largely to ensure his pacification after the British Navy actions in subduing the

slave trade along the coast of East Africa.

For the Sultan’s reception upon arrival at London Docks, Queen Victoria commissioned the construction of the barge in order that he could be rowed up the Thames to Windsor where he was a guest of the Queen during his stay in England. The Sultan was so impressed with the barge that Queen Victoria presented it to him at the end of his state visit, and it was then shipped out to Zanzibar for his use.


Please subscribe or check back to be kept up to date with the progress of the restoration of this incredible historical vessel.



The Barge is considered in good condition for due restoration and has survived amazingly well, since it’s commissioning some 150 years ago. The hard wood has not been affected by any termites and all the blades, carvings, metal work can be reclaimed, including the canopy

and rudder.

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