Dunkirk ‘little ships’ head for the quays of St Katharine’s Classic Boat Festival

Classic Boats festival coming to St Katharine Docks. Picture: Tim Kavanagh

Classic Boats festival coming to St Katharine Docks. Picture: Tim Kavanagh - Credit: Archant

One of the main attractions at this year’s Classic Boat Festival at St Katharine Docks will be some of the veteran “little boats” that took part in the wartime Dunkirk evacuations nearly 80 years ago.

Massey Shaw... London Fire Brigade's famous wartime fireboat which took part in 1940 naval evacuatio

Massey Shaw... London Fire Brigade's famous wartime fireboat which took part in 1940 naval evacuations at Dunkirk. Picture: St Catharine's - Credit: St Catharine's

The veterans return next month to join 40 classic vessels where enthusiasts can meet the owners and even climb aboard.

The most famous veteran was the fire brigade's Massey Shaw fireboat which often makes an appearance at the annual festival.

It was part of the 1940 naval operations which rescued 336,000 British and Allied troops from the Dunkirk beaches who were trapped by German forces, then went on to help tackle the Blitz when the docks were set ablaze in enemy air raids.

Lady Daphney... classic Thames sail barge built 1923, moored at St Katharine Docks by Tower Bridge.

Lady Daphney... classic Thames sail barge built 1923, moored at St Katharine Docks by Tower Bridge. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

The little ships are joined by the Lady Daphne, one of Britain's last wooden barges built in 1923, which runs river tours including Tower Bridge being specially raised.


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The festival weekend runs from September 6 to 8, 11am-6pm, as part of the Totally Thames month-long celebrations and also has attractions like stand-up paddleboarding, craft workshops and treasure hunts for children.

Classic Boats festival coming to St Katharine Docks. Picture: Tim Kavanagh

Classic Boats festival coming to St Katharine Docks. Picture: Tim Kavanagh - Credit: Archant

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