Thames Flotilla, September 24th 2022


Towpath Talk Editor, Janet Richardson reports:

AS DUSK fell over the River Thames in central London on Saturday September 24, the Reflections flotilla of around 150 boats, motorised and manpowered – all decorated in thousands of white lights – started from Albert Bridge.

I was a guest on Andrew and Frances Phasey’s narrowboat Doris Katia which led a group of narrowboats which included members’ from the St Pancras Cruising Club in the flotilla which was a tribute by the river community marking the passing of Her Majesty the Queen and the accession of King Charles III.

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Our day started in Limehouse Basin where most of the boats were moored, locking through in groups onto the river where we made our way in convoy up to the mustering point where we waited, three narrowboats to a mooring buoy while the river closed to traffic at 5.30pm and the boats, ranging from passenger boats and RIBs to row boats and kayaks, started to take up their positions.

Centrepiece, The Queen’s Row Barge, Gloriana, was waiting to join as we passed under Chelsea Bridge – one of seven specially illuminated for the occasion on our way to Tower Bridge where we waited for it to open before the flotilla passed through to end the spectacle. The delay was apparently due to the bridge being packed with spectators who were reluctant to move! Along the route, riverbanks and bridges were also packed with spectators and the cadets lining the deck on board HMS Belfast stood to attention.

The event is expected to raise up to £20,000 for the RNLI, supporting the construction of a new lifeboat station at Waterloo Bridge. Promoted as part of Totally Thames 2022, Reflections was organised by Thames Alive together with a group of people who played a central role in the delivery of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012.

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My thanks to Andrew and Frances Phasey and crew members Jeremy Batch and David Yeo for a most memorable experience.

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