Classic Boat Festival to be awash with wartime heritage at St Katharine’s

Vintage boat festival coming to St Katherine's by Tower of London

Vintage boat festival coming to St Katharine's by Tower of London - Credit: Tim Kavanagh

The vintage “little ships” that took part in wartime evacuations from the Dunkirk beaches are taking part in this year’s Classic Boat Festival in the docks at St Katharine’s by the Tower. 

Family activities are planned on the marina quayside on September 4 and 5 when the historic vessels tie up.  

Around 40 vintage boats are going on display, including the ships that helped rescue 336,000 Allied soldiers in 1940. 

2015... The Havengore in Pool of London recreating journey it made in 1965

2015... The Havengore in Pool of London recreating journey it made in 1965 - Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Also docking is the Havengore, which is a former hydrographic survey launch famous for carrying the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill on the Thames after his state funeral in 1965 and used again in 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.  

The festival is one of the highlights of Totally Thames 2021, a month-long celebration of London’s iconic river and its rich history. 


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Activities include paddleboarding, boatbuilding demonstrations, a treasure hunt, and a talk from mudlarker Ted Sandling about the historic practice of scavenging on the riverbed. Members of a group restoring the 1920s’Apr Raybel sailing barge also explain their mission to help create a sustainable future for the planet.

Classic Boat Festival September 4 and 5.

Classic Boat Festival September 4 and 5. - Credit: Tim Kavanagh

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