Category Archives: Diamond Jubilee River Pageant

The Pageant, the barges and some pictures

The Flotilla passes barges moored either side in the Pool of London

The highlight of recent weeks has to be the Queen’s Diamond

Jubilee Pageant on the Thames, where a considerable number of Thames barges took part.   They were in the Avenue of Sail between London Bridge and Wapping rather than in the Pageant itself because they are too tall to go under any of the bridges higher up.

It was an exciting time for those lucky enough to be on board the barges during the Pageant, or those who helped sail them up to the Pool of London.

I have to say that I was disappointed that the Thames sailing barges got so little mention on TV or in the press.   After all, the Pageant was on the River Thames, and they are the boats specially designed for the river and which for so many years carried goods to and from London by river.   I hate criticizing what the Queen was doing, or what her advisers had her do, but I had hoped that when the Royal Barge came under Tower Bridge she would continue right to the end of the Avenue of Sail, and then come back to HMS President.   As it were, the Queen reviewing the Avenue of Sail.   It seems a bit pointless having an Avenue of Sail if the principal person is not going to sail through it.     I hope the barge crews didn’t feel too disappointed.

We have established a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant album in our Gallery on Flickr.   Go to the Gallery page, click on the link, and you will see the QDJP folder.   There are only a few pictures on at the moment, but we shall be adding to them regularly.   Incidentally, if any of the barges which took part would like to send us their pictures, we will be happy to include them.    Send them to us at:-

(Tricia Gurnett)

Lifeboat helps Cambria

Found on the “interweb” today an article which brings together two of my interests:  barges and the RNLI.

Of course, I was sorry to hear that someone on the Cambria, (doesn’t say if it was a crew member or a visitor), had fallen and was injured, but glad that the RNLI could help.   Cambria was at Erith, and the incident took place about 3.00am last Wednesday when she had come down river after the River Pageant.

Here’s the link to the story on the This is Local London website. 

After the Pageant, Cygnet takes some time off at Eel Pie Island

After the  Jubilee Pageant Des Kaliszewki dropped Cygnet’s mast, and set her bridge sail and mizzen to sail through the bridges before the trip boats got under way.   Under Westminster and on,  now under motor he had the aim of passing under Richmond Half Lock to anchor and spend the day there.   In fact he dropped anchor just below Eel Pie Island, and called at the Barmy Arms to meet SSBR Chairman, Elizabeth Wood.  Next morning Cygnet tied at Twickenham Yacht Club to take on water (and dispose of their elsan) before returning down river back to Snape.

(Words and photograph by David Wood)

Sign the petition to show the BBC we didn’t like their coverage

The press and social network sites have been full of criticism of the BBC for its coverage of the Jubilee Weekend events, and particularly of the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.

If, like the writer, you were bitterly disappointed that instead of seeing the one thousand boats we were promised, we got cookery demonstrations, artists with soggy paintings of the river, and inane comments from second rate so-called celebrities, to say nothing of total inaccuracies about the Queen, the Royal Family, the boats and the order they were in, then please sign this e-petition.

“BBC’s Dire Coverage of the Thames Flotilla and other Jubilee Events

We the undersigned are appalled at the BBC’s dire coverage and reporting of the Jubilee events especially during the Thames Flotilla on Sunday June 3. We are particularly concerned at the lack of professionalism with regards to the presentation, editing and camera angles. We are shocked at the use of the term ‘Her Royal Highness’ when referring to Her Majesty the Queen. We are appalled at the total lack of knowledge shown by the presenters of the individual boats appearing in the Flotilla, especially regarding the Historic Boats and the ‘Little Boats of Dunkirk.’ We were most disappointed that the Spirit of Chartwell was not shown passing through Tower Bridge. This programme was transmitted worldwide and was a national embarrassment. We are also concerned that the Olympics will be likewise dumbed down.”

You can sign the petition via this link:


The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

This is the link to an excellent map and article about the Pageant, which appears on the London Town website.   Thanks to Mark Tilley of for pointing it out to us and allowing us to use it.

Cambria and friends on way to the Pageant

I went down to Tilbury Landing Stage on Thursday evening because Cambria, lying at the new Town Pontoon at Gravesend, was to start her journey up river ready to join the Avenue of Sail for the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on Sunday.

It was a dull evening with slight rain, but, with the car on the landing stage, I was able to stay in the dry and just get out when Cambria was ready to sail.   She slipped her moorings at 18.05 and began the first tack across the river.   She looked tremendous.   Two tacks later, and she was near the Tilbury Landing Stage.   I could see everyone on deck, and identified Julie.   I had said I would wave a Union flag, which I did madly, and Julie says she could see me.

And then they were gone, hidden by the massive cargo ship moored at the far end of the Landing Stage because she’s too big to get into the Docks.

Tenacious approaches the Landing Stage

Meanwhile, more treats appeared.   First, the magnificent Tenacious, owned and operated by the Hampshire-based Jubilee Sailing Trust, a charity that promotes the integration of able-bodied and physically disabled people via the challenges of crewing a square rigged tall ship at sea.   As she approached Tilbury, a rib left the ship with six young people in yellow waterproofs who climbed on to the Landing Stage.   They found the deputy harbour master  –  that was lucky, usually there’s never anyone there when you want them  –  and he said Tenacious could tie up at the far end.

Shortly afterwards a little grey motor boat appeared, followed by three sailing vessels.   

MTB 102

The grey job was MTB 102, now in private ownership but built in 1937 as a motor torpedo boat able to mount a quick response to threats from both warships and submarines.   She saw active service mainly in the English Channel.   During ‘Operation Dynamo’, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, she crossed the Channel no less than seven times.   In 1944 she carried Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower to review the ships assembled on the South Coast for the D-Day landings.   So she saw both the end of the desperate evacuation of the British Forces from Europe and the start of their determined return.

Jolly Brise

The next sailing vessel was the Jolly Brise, a 1913 Pilot Cutter.   She is the only traditional vessel in the UK owned, maintained and sailed by school students.   She won the first ever Fastnet Race and then two more after that.    In recent years she was the overall winner of Tallships Races 2000 and 2004, being raced and sailed by Dauntsey’s School Students.

She was followed by Provident, a gaff-rigged ketch built in 1924 at Galmpton on the River


Dart, and at 90ft long is one of the medium-sized ‘mule’ class of sailing trawlers.   The Brixham sailing trawlers were legendary deep sea fishing vessels, their design combining strength and stability with manoeuvrability and speed.   Provident is one of only a handful of these famous vessels still in use and is now operated by the Trinity Sailing Foundation for sail training and sailing holidays from their base in Brixham.

Lastly, there was the stately Queen Galadriel, a gaff-rigged ketch Baltic trader built in 1937 in Svenborg, Denmark, and

Queen Galadriel

originally named Else, after the Captain’s daughter.   She traded as a cargo vessel around the coasts of Denmark and Norway, initially as a motor sailor, but after 1956 under motor alone.   By the 1970s she was no longer needed, but in 1983 she was bought by The Cirdan Sailing Trust and went into service renamed Queen Galadriel.   Now the Trust’s flagship, she provides disadvantaged young people with learning opportunities and self development through the challenge of life at sea.

So well worth the scramble back round the M25, actually completed in record time, to see not just Cambria but other vessels taking part in the Jubilee Pageant.   The MTB will be in the flotilla accompanying the Queen.   The others will be in the Avenue of Sail:  Queen Galadriel and Jolly Brise in St Katherine’s Dock, and Tenacious and Provident moored below Tower Bridge on the south side of the river.   Cambria will be moored between Tower Bridge and London Bridge, also on the south side, amongst a good number of her fellow sailing barges.

(Tricia Gurnett)

River Pageant vessels to gather in West India Dock for checks

The website,, has some interesting details about the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.     There will be 105 large vessels in The Avenue of Sail lining the banks of the Thames for the actual event, and the organizers have put down moorings along the mile from London Bridge to Wapping on both sides of the river.   These vessels, including a number of Thames Sailing Barges, are too large to pass under London Bridge.  The Avenue of Sail also includes St Katherine’s Dock – where there will be a dozen vessels.

The website tells us how the boats will be arriving on Thursday and Friday of next week when several hundred motor vessels will gather in West India Dock, which will act as a marshalling yard. Whilst they’re in West India Dock they’ll be inspected by the Port of London Authority and the Marine and Coastguard Agency to ensure they pass safety checks and are ready for the Pageant.   Then on Saturday morning they all leave to make their way to their mustering positions, and water taxis will take invited guests and crew to the vessels.   20,000 people will be on board 1,000 vessels during the Pageant.

On Sunday, after the flotilla of boats has travelled from Battersea Bridge to Wapping, the vessels will head off into waters around Canary Wharf and Greenwich.

You can read the whole story here.

Sheila knits the Jubilee River Pageant

This story is not about sailing barges, but, as one of the many articles being published to do with HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant, it is so unusual and quirky I thought readers would not mind.

Keen knitter, Sheila Carter from Southampton has made a knitted Royal Barge cruising along the Thames.   The project is a metre long and shows the Queen and Duke, the Thames Watermen, a surrounding flotilla of small boats, and Tower Bridge in the background.    It took Sheila 500 hours and an estimated 1.8million stitches using 4,500ft of wool.   Read the full story here.

Incidentally, isn’t it strange how national newspapers and media just keep getting it wrong.   The Queen will be on board a “decorated royal barge” but it will not be a de-rigged sailing barge, as originally reported;  nor will it be the magnificent newly-built “Gloriana” rowed barge.   It will be the Thames charter dining boat, “Spirit of Chartwell”,  which has been out of action, (so not making money), for many months whilst it has been re-fitted to make it resemble the barges used by Tudor and Stuart monarchs, complete, we are told, with two large thrones for the Queen and Prince Philip. 

Victor and her young crew will be at the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant

We now know that a number of barges will be at the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on 3 June.

News today, story here and here, that Ipswich-based sb Victor will be moored near HMS Belfast, and will be crewed by young people from the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook, Suffolk.  

Originally the Royal Hospital School was an “asylum”, or orphanage and

Victor sails past Royal Hospital School

school, for children of deceased or disabled Royal Naval seamen, founded in 1712, and was housed at Greenwich.   In 1933 it moved to Suffolk to find a larger site, and is now a leading independent boarding and day school.  The school is very proud of its links with the Royal Navy, and keeps a number of naval traditions, including all pupils being issued with naval uniforms for ceremonial occasions.  

Pupils are encouraged to sail, and the crew for the Victor was chosen by a selection process from the many who wanted to take part.   Being part of the River Pageant is something they will remember for the rest of their life.

%d bloggers like this: