About Us

The Public Trust
The Couper Collection Public Trust was co-founded with Wandsworth Council in 1998. The Council financed health and safety works and general promotion, that enabled the collection to permanently open as a London tourist destination, and school's education facility. In 1999 the trust was launched as registered charity by the UK Home Secretary.

The registered charitable objectives of the Couper Collection Public Trust are:
To advance public education and access to the Thames, through the preservation and showing of the collection, and events associated with the art, on the trust's permanent moorings and historic barges.

Thames Heritage
The Couper Collection is London's last remaining fleet of historic Thames barges on their ancient moorings, now owned by the trust, and continuously used since the 18th century. The barges, converted over the last 20 years, include a variety of types dating from 1908 to 1974, and the last two barges built on the Thames – a pair of 1000 ton wheat barges.
Couper Collection Barges, 2001, photographed by Anne Soenens from Albert Bridge, at low tide, looking west to Battersea Bridge.

London's barges, also known as lighters, were originally responsible for the prosperity of the city. They were finally made redundant by the advent of containerisation in the 1980's, when thousands of barges, and dozens of similar barge-moorings, disappeared for ever from the Thames in central London.

James McNeil Whistler. Nocturn: Blue and Silver - Chelsea 1871. Collection Tate London. Foreground: barge moored on the ancient moorings that now belong to the Couper Collection.

Our plans
We are the only facility in central London on the Thames for the public and schools to enjoy art and culture in the natural environment of the Thames.

Our plans include full disability access to the exhibition spaces on our permanently moored barges at Battersea, the creation of a proper riverbus stop here, and enhancement of our education facilities for work with London schools and youth. Part of the enhancement programme would involve working with youngsters on Community Service with the London Probation Service with whom we have a longstanding relationship.

Nick Skeens
Chairman of the Trustees of The Couper Collection Public Trust
Carole Tongue
Vice-chair of the Trustees of The Couper Collection Public Trust
Max Couper
Artist and founder of the Couper Collection Public Trust