M.V.Vrijheid is a “stijlsteven aak” (straight bow) barge built in 1922 by Van der Werf of Stadskanal, the Netherlands.
Much of her commercial life was spent plying the River Rhine across Europe, transporting grain and mixed cargoes. In her latter years she carried ballast used for canal building. Originally built as a sailing barge, Vrijheid was later motorised with all the sailing gear removed except the foredeck winch. In trade until approximately 1952, the der Weerd family retired Vrijheid – then called Nomadicsh (Nomad) – converting her into their home and mooring her in Den Helder, North Holland.
On the death of Mr der Weerd, Johanna his widow, found her too large and sadly parted with Vrijheid selling her to Bruce and Caroline Le Gros in September 1993. The delivery voyage, sailing through The Netherlands and Belgium then across the North Sea to the River Thames, was a unique and memorable experience for the new owners. On arriving at their mooring in Berkshire, England they realised that this extraordinary vessel was going to provide the home, the lifestyle and the opportunity to experience life afloat. She has not disappointed.
Christened Twee Gebroeders in the Principality of Groningen, she traded extensively between Holland and Germany on the Rhine. In fact, until two years ago, she still held a valid commercial Rhine licence to transport 22 ton loads!
Her name was changed to Nomadisch and she was re-registered to the Principality of Meppel, retained this name right up to up to her retirement on 23/10/1961. Her principal cargoes were bulk and sacked cereals and dry goods. In her final working years she was slipped and received an extensive up rating to her topsides, gunnels and hatch coamings. It is believed this was done to increase her cargo tonnage.
Third owners, Mr & Mrs de Weerd of Den Helder, purchased the vessel for their home, raising four children abroad. She carried the family on holidays throughout the waterways of the Netherlands, resting the remainder of each year in Den Helder Haven. At this time she was slipped for extensive conversion of the hull to living accommodation, tastefully re-modelling the topsides with the addition of superstructure including a bathroom, salon and two bedrooms.
Purchased by Bruce & Caroline Le Gros who sailed her from Zaan Dam in the Netherlands to Reading, UK and later to moorings in Wallingford, Chertsey, Chiswick, Barking and currently Gravesend, Kent.
Today, the Vrijheid is well-known on the Thames having travelling on the non-tidal as far as Days Lock near Dorchester and eastwards to Whitstable and Faversham Creek, Kent.