It was an early start today and we left the boat at 8.40am to walk up into Henley and go to Wetherspoons for breakfast. I had a very nice breakfast wrap which was different. It was then a walk out of Henley the other way to go to the Thames Traditional Boat Festival. As we went in we saw the amphibious vehicles going into the water – it was fascinating and must be very daunting for the first time.
Next were the Dunkirk Little Ships – and what a lovely sight they were.
We went on board MTB 102. We spoke to a very knowledgeable man whose grandfather had been onboard during D Day. MTB 102 is one of few surviving motor torpedo boats that served with the Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy in the Second World War. In 1944 she carried Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower to review the fleet for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
From there we wandered up the bank admiring all the lovely shiny, much loved boats. Here are just a few of my photos.
However the best boat was Gloriana - a 94 foot British royal barge. She was privately commissioned as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee, and was the lead vessel in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012. We had seen her last year tied up at Henley as we passed but this time we were able to go right up to her and peer in.
She then did a sail past with a team of rowers from the Leander Club. She really is a magnificent sight.
The next sail past was the Dunkirk Little Ships. I took photos of every one but I shall only put a few on here.
|L'Orange (my favourite)|
The amphibious vehicles kept “driving” up and down all day – they did look funny!
One of the highlights of the afternoon was seeing Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird K3. It was her first outing on the Thames and the idea was that she sailed past, at speed, down the rowing lane. The river was closed to allow this to happen and she made her way to the beginning of the course and we waited with anticipation. But we waited and we waited until we were told that the sail past was being abandoned due to technical problems. A sigh of disappointment was heard through the crowd. K3 set three world water speed records, first on Lake Maggiore in September 1937, then later twice raising her own record.
After the disappointment of Bluebird there wasn’t much else to see so we packed up the deckchairs and walked back to the boats.
In the Festival programme there was an illuminated sail past scheduled for 10pm so we decided to walk down to Henley bridge to watch it. What a flop! There were only a handful of boats and really only one had made a good effort.
But what a wonderful day. Lots of lovely boats, good company and the sun shone all day :-)