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Dunkirk ‘Little Ships’ arrive for St Katharine Docks’ Classic Boat Festival

PUBLISHED: 15:00 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:42 07 September 2018

Classic boats ready to take part in 2018 marine festival at St Katharine's-by-the-Tower. Picture: Lucy Young

Classic boats ready to take part in 2018 marine festival at St Katharine's-by-the-Tower. Picture: Lucy Young

© Lucy Young

Some of the ‘Little Ships’ that took part in the Dunkirk wartime military evacuations are among vintage sailing and motor boats taking part in a floating festival at St Katharine Docks this weekend.

Dunkirk 'Little Ships' appearing at St Katharine Docks' Classic Boat Festival. Picture: Lucy YoungDunkirk 'Little Ships' appearing at St Katharine Docks' Classic Boat Festival. Picture: Lucy Young

But one that isn’t making it this year is the iconic Massey Shaw, the former London Fire Brigade Thames fire-boat used in Operation Dynamo in 1940 to rescue 340,000 British and French troops during the Fall of France.

It usually attracts up to 8,000 visitors during the annual Classic Boats festival, but its owners are not taking part.

Other ‘Dunkirk’ veteran boats, however, are open to visitors during the three-day Classic Boats festival at the dock marina near Tower Bridge, from Friday to Sunday.

Veteran Massey Shaw fireboat that took part in 1940 Dunkirk evacuations that for the first time sadly isn't appearing at the Classic Boat Show this year. Picture source: St Katharine DocksVeteran Massey Shaw fireboat that took part in 1940 Dunkirk evacuations that for the first time sadly isn't appearing at the Classic Boat Show this year. Picture source: St Katharine Docks

Other vessels include the world’s oldest working tug, the ‘Kent’, and the historic wooden ‘Lady Daphne Thames’ sailing barge launched in 1923.

Visitors get the chance to talk to the boat owners and climb aboard, as well as a trip out the Thames on the ‘Lady Daphne’, passing under Tower Bridge when its bascules lift.

The 10th annual festival features 40 colourful boats from around the world as part of the month-long ‘Totally Thames’ festival taking place along the 42-mile London stretch of the river.

Flags are out for the weekend Classic Boat Festival at St Katharine Docks. Picture: Lucy YoungFlags are out for the weekend Classic Boat Festival at St Katharine Docks. Picture: Lucy Young

St Katharine’s is also awash with activities on the quayside from Friday to Sunday with sessions of kayaking, adult craft classes in weaving, lino-cutting and printing, talks about the ships taking part and the 190th anniversary of St Katharine’s Docks. There is also children’s story time and a historic treasure hunt.

The Whale Company is back at the docks for a workshop on keeping the Thames free from plastic waste, following its summer paddle board challenge.

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