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Thames Flotilla follows Churchill’s funeral cortège from Tower Pier on 50th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 12:04 30 January 2015 | UPDATED: 13:25 30 January 2015

1964: Sir Winston Churchill, smoking his trademark cigar,  leaves his London home for House of Commons for perhaps last time. Picture: PA

1964: Sir Winston Churchill, smoking his trademark cigar, leaves his London home for House of Commons for perhaps last time. Picture: PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

A flotilla of small boats is leaving St Katharine’s Dock by the Tower of London on the route of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral cortège exactly 50 years ago today.

Churchill's coffin arrives at Tower Pier, January 30, 1965Churchill's coffin arrives at Tower Pier, January 30, 1965

The Port of London’s survey launch Havengore sets of at 12.15pm following the exact route the funeral took along the Thames to Festival Pier on Saturday, January 30, 1965, immediately after his State funeral at St Paul’s.

Dockers in the former London Docks and Surrey Docks lowered their cranes along the Thames in a spontaneous tribute to Britain’s wartime leader on his last journey through London as the launch passed by.

Churchill's coffin carried aboard PLA's Havengore survey launch at Tower Pier. Picture: PAChurchill's coffin carried aboard PLA's Havengore survey launch at Tower Pier. Picture: PA

Millions of spectators had earlier thronged the streets of the City on that freezing Saturday morning when the funeral procession made its way through Trafalgar Square along The Strand, Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill for the funeral service at St Paul’s, attended by the Queen.

His coffin was then taken to Tower Pier where it was carried on board the PLA launch to be taken to Waterloo to be carried by train to Bladon in Oxfordshire where he was buried.

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PAChurchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA

Tens-of-thousands lined the Thames to watch the launch pass by, which is being recreated today.

Sir Winston Churchill was given a unique honour in the week before the funeral when his coffin lay in state at Westminster Hall to allow the public to file past to pay their respects.

Queue stretches from Houses of Parliament to Millbank over Lambeth Bridge and back along Albert Embankmen to file through Westminster Hall for Churchill's Lying-in-State. Picture: PAQueue stretches from Houses of Parliament to Millbank over Lambeth Bridge and back along Albert Embankmen to file through Westminster Hall for Churchill's Lying-in-State. Picture: PA

The queues stretched back over Westminster Bridge, along Albert Embankment, Lambeth Bridge and Millbank, taking up to three hours for members of the public to file past.

Sir Winston is remembered as the man who led Britain through its darkest days of the Second World War, rallying the nation as Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945.

Last portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, at 90, painted by Bernard Hailstone at ChartwellLast portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, at 90, painted by Bernard Hailstone at Chartwell

Sir Winston, who was MP for Woodford in east London, returned briefly as Prime Minister from 1951 to 1955 before ill health forced him to finally leave 10 Downing Street.

He stood down at the 1964 General Election and spent most of his retirement at Chartwell and at his home in Hyde Park Gate.

He died in January, 1965, two months after his 90th birthday.


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