The Brother was a spits barge, built as the Magda in Thuin in 1945. She was one of many similar ships built over there during and after the war. They all had a similar design, with the accommodation in front of the wheelhouse. As many barges of her time, she was powered with a six cylinder straight GM engine (6-71). She was never upgraded, even the gearbox stayed the same for over sixty years!
She changed owners over the year and was later called Axioma in 1981 and Rudy in 1985. She got the name Brother in 2006.
In the eighties (probably 1985), she was converted for being pushed in a combination of two spits barges. A support was welded at the stern of the vessel.
She was converted to a coffee shop and moored in Den Haag in 199#. She stayed there till se was closed. The Brother came back once more to Belgium and was moored in Ghent. She was sold to two people in Ghent, and shortly after resold. The city didn’t like the view of the ship and the project was abandoned.
We converted the ship to have a more traditional look by removing the restaurant that was built on top of the ship’s hold.
The big restaurant on top of the hold was built in wood and plasterboard. The roof was made of some metal frames and roofing felt. The constructors cut the den level. This meant that near the wheelhouse the den was still complete. Near the anchor winch, nearly no den was left at all.
The walls were supported by a mixture of metal and wooden frames built on the gang board of the ship. Special panels in plastic were on the outside. The inside was plasterboard. between the plasterboard and the plastic panels was a bubble rap plastic to hold any possible humidity out.
The interior had a traditional looking feeling. It was one big area, with a bar at the entrance. In the skipper’s accommodation was a big kitchen. Downstairs were storage.
All the windows in the skippers cabin were protected by bars. The doors on the inside of the restaurant had a metal door behind it.
Removing the construction
We had to remove the construction upon request of the city. Breaking something down looks easy and sounds like a lot of fun. It is one of the jobs I hate most! Firstly we removed any valuable parts and stuff we want to reuse. You need to be careful in such a process, because at some point you can reuse everything. We were very selective. Most of the stuff I kept was decoration such as an old phone with Guldens (before the EURO period). The chairs were nice as well.
The second step was to remove the inside walls of the restaurant. Most of it was plasterboard or decorative paneling in chipboard wood. This job took quiet some time.
Once the inside was removed, we had to unscrew the outside paneling. This job held some more risks since there was no support to hold us decently. A few panels broke, but most of them were saved since we intended them to reuse.
The next stage was to remove the wooden framework. Once this was done, only the metal ribs held the roof in position. They were solid enough.
The floor of the restaurant was a nice laminate of hard wood. It was partly damaged by rain. Since it was glued to the other floor we couldn’t save it. A few days later the floor was gone as well. You would be surprised to see how many Gulden we found while cutting up the floor!
After two weeks of heavy work, only a floating roof and a filled cargo hold were left.
While waiting for hatches, we decided to lower the roof so it covers the hold. The last thing we wanted was rainwater in the hold. Once this was done, the Brother started looking more like a Spits barge again. At least you could now safely walk around the ship!
The ship found a new owner who will make it into a houseboat.