A personal record of party boats continued…
Elegant Party boat the Pride of London is owned and operated by Cruise London Ltd. Built for private charter and sightseeing tours, she was designed by Thomas Hugen and launched in 1975. She was previously known as the Pride of Greenwich.
The Princess Freda, one of the famous Dunkirk “Little Ships” was built on the Isle ofWight in 1926. Her exploits in Operation Dynamo are well documented in this quote from her details courtesy of The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships: “Apart from the low profile and the modest freeboard, Princess Freda was the ideal ship for lifting troops off the beaches.” The bravery and determination of “Sub-Lieut. E.S. Forman, who commanded her, must be admired when you consider that he manoeuvred this 65ft launch with a fast tide running close to shallow beaches on a lee shore under fire, filled her to capacity with troops and ferried them all day to an off-lying destroyer until flotsam fouled his propeller and he was towed home by the Dutch tug Betje.“
The River Princess is part of Thames Cruises fleet that has been operating in London for over forty years.
A popular party boat, the Royalty, was built by Salter Brothers, Oxford in 1913. During the Second World War she was commissioned by the Royal Navy to serve as a hospital ship.
The Salient was built in 1979 and first named Sydney Hull. After damage while in dry dock, she was rebuilt and acquired by a new owner who renamed her Salient.
Built in 1925, Sigrid of Chelsea is a classic motor yacht of that time. During the Second World War, she was “requisitioned by the Royal Navy, where she performed a number of duties including delivering fleet orders from the Admiralty.”
The glamorous, Art Deco vintage cruiser, Silver Barracuda is part of the Woods Silver Fleet. She has been operational on the Thames for over four decades hosting “prime ministers, film stars, pop singers, writers and royalty.” She was built in 1977 by Southern Shipbuilders, London – Faversham, UK.
The elegant, luxurious Silver Sturgeon, Woods’ Silver Fleet flagship is a star of the Thames. She was built by Prior Engineering, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and launched in 1997. Thanks to a “revolutionary wheelhouse design by Alan Woods”, she is able to pass under all the central London bridges.
Among many prestigious events, she was chosen to host a river trip celebrating HM the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Wedding anniversary, and in 2007 she underwent a £2 million redesign to mark the Woods Company’s Diamond Anniversary.
N. and I had a special anniversary cruise aboard Bateaux London’s Symphony on Sunday, September 10th. We had a good table and nice food and wine in a relaxed atmosphere. We were well looked after, all the while accompanied by an excellent jazz band.
Bateaux London began their cruises through central London in 1992. Built by Parisian architect Gerard Ronzatti in 1991, she was originally designed to cruise along the Seine in Paris but only operated there for a year before coming to London.
Though permanently attached, and most often marooned on her sandbank unless the tide is high, the Tamesis Dock Bar is a converted 1930s Dutch barge moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridges. She worked on canals in Europe before coming to London.
Sitting quietly with a friend on the deck of The Tattershall Castle, permanently moored on Victoria Embankment since 1982, we could both understand her popularity for memorable events and parties. Directly opposite the London Eye, with views of the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben and passing river traffic it was as if we were in a moving postcard.
Built in 1934, The Tattershall Castle was a passenger ferry on the River Humber between Hull and New Holland. During the Second World War she was used “briefly as a tethering vessel for barage balloons in the Humber estuary before returning to duty ferrying troops and munitions, and she was one of the first civilian vessels to be equipped with radar.”
M.V. Valulla is moored on Lambeth reach so I see her quiet, or busy almost every day. She has recently had a makeover and is looking grand.
A one-off unusual sighting on June 3rd, 2022, where there was definitely a party going on. The boat was sailing merrily along Lambeth Reach during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations but I’m not sure it was involved in any way.
The Viscount was built in 1908 by Salter Brothers of Oxford for Joseph Mears. “In May 1940 she took part in Operation Dynamo, sailing downriver to Sheerness. On May 30, 1940, she left for Ramsgate. However she broke down as her freshwater steam engine could not operate in salt water. As a result she was unable to cross the channel but is still credited as a Dunkirk Little Ship.”
Wairakei II, a Dunkirk “Little Ship” was built by James Silver, Rosneath on the Clyde in 1932. An elegant, sturdy motor yacht, she is said to have saved 150 soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk. Moored on Chelsea Reach, she is maintained by the expert Dennett Boat Builders, and I often see her sailing along Lambeth Reach.
As mentioned in my previous article, this has been a personal look at party boats seen during daytime. They operate during the night-time too, and a cruise, taking in the Illuminated Bridges as well as some of London’s famous sights, is a magical experience. The list of boats is by no means exhaustive and the information here, some of it scanty, may not be up-t0-date, so if you’re thinking of taking to the river for a party, which I can thoroughly recommend, check details carefully and be aware that some boats may appear on more than one website as they can be hired through other companies.
Sources of quotes and Further Information
Thanks for help and guidance from Dunkirk “Little Ship” on Twitter: @Margo_II
Bateaux London for dining cruises and special events.
National Historic Ships UK
Thames Cruises Operating from Lambeth Pier.
Thames Party Boats based in the heart of London.
Visit London list their ‘Best 15 Thames River Cruises and London boat trips’
Woods’ Silver Fleet