Dunkirk Little Ships and Queen’s Barge arrive at St Katharine’s-by-The-Tower

St Katharine's Docks festival last year [photo: Jesper Mattias]

St Katharine's Docks festival last year [photo: Jesper Mattias] - Credit: St Katharine's Boat Fest - FTI Consulting

A flotilla of Dunkirk Little Ships that took part in the 1940 ‘Operation Dynamo’ rescues and The Queen’s row barge from the Diamond Jubilee Thames pageant are on display near the Tower of London today.

They are among 45 historic vessels which have arrived at St Katharine’s Docks for this year’s two-day Classic Boat Festival.

The Dunkirk ships that helped evacuate 340,000 Allied soldiers at the Fall of France in the Second World War are the highlights along with the Royal barge, Gloriana, during the festival today and tomorrow which is likely to attract thousands of spectators. The Royal barge is on special display with a limited number of private viewings.

Another on show is the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s research vessel Song of the Whale, while first-time participants include an Essex smack built in the 1860s, an Oyster smack and a Danish sailing trawler.

This year’s event has been expanded with features including a ‘floating cinema’ screening films free, but only with tickets online in advance, sea-shanty singers performing on the quayside today, a jazz ensemble 12noon to 5pm tomorrow, a pop-up bar and plenty of street food.

The festival runs 11am to 6pm today and tomorrow, one of many events on the Thames to mark the ‘Totally Thames’ celebration. A water taxi is operating between St Katharine’s Pier and Festival Pier every hour, 11am-6pm. Nearest London Underground station: Tower Hill, or DLR Tower Gateway (5 mins).

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