By: Web Editor
THE Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant was held on June 3 where crowds of over one million lined the river banks in appalling weather conditions to view the largest flotilla of vessels seen on the Thames in 350 years.
The unique spectacle was over seven miles long and included 1000 vessels of all descriptions.
Vessels selected to be in the Avenue of Sail started to arrive on the Thames several days prior to the event and even though the skies remained overcast, crowds were still gathering at the most popular vantage points to witness this once in a lifetime event.
Following in the wake of the Royal Barge Spirit of Chartwell, carrying the royal party were the Dunkirk Little Ships with historic and service vessels next. The working boats section led by the Jubilant Commonwealth Chorus included a selection of steam launches, that by the time they reached Southwark Bridge around 4.30pm had the cheering crowds dispersed due to the heavy rain. Open launch Surta and saloon launch Ursula are relatively new, respectively built in 1988 and 2001. Ursula however is equipped with a c1890 Mumford engine while on Surta a 1950 Sissons acts as propulsion plant.
One of the older steam boats was Sabrina, built in 1870 as an inspection launch for the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal. Running a close second was the former Salter Bros saloon launch Alaska – a sleek passenger vessel with its carved teak hull built in 1883. Dating from 1897 the small open launch Kariat was built at Cowes by the Liquid Fuel Engineering Co. which also supplied the contemporary engine from a year earlier.
Built by Jas Pollock & Sons in 1928, the steam tug Barking was destined for the Gas Light & Coke Co, the little vessel working its later life out of the North Thames Beckton gasworks.
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