Thames Classics at St Katherine’s Dock

Alasdair Flint of historic London chandlery Arthur Beale & Co has written to report on the Thames Classics last weekend:

‘The dock was full of colourful, fully dressed vessels including a fine show of classic Thames motor cruisers, the Royal Barge Gloriana, the fire boat Massey Shaw, the steam tug Portwey, and a few Thames sailing barges.

‘The weather forecast for the weekend wasn’t looking good but the widely forecast the rain had cleared early on Saturday morning the weekend remained dry. A good crowd turned up on both days, some for the show and some to visit the dock, which is always a busy tourist attraction.

‘There weren’t too many yachts this year but nevertheless there was plenty to feast your eyes on. Personally I thought the star of the show was the quite incredible and recently built George Stephenson, built from salvaged parts from other vessels. The work that had gone into it was staggering. You could go on-board and marvel at the working steam and diesel engines. There were enough pipes and valves to run a nuclear power station.

‘Shore side visitors were entertained by sea shanties, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands.

‘There were a few stands selling street food and RYA training courses, and of course Arthur Beale Yacht Chandlers had their stripy tent full of classic boat bits.

‘It made a great family day out. Maybe next year a few more classic yachts will venture up the Thames to show off their bright work before the end of the sailing season.’

Thanks Alasdair! A forthcoming post from Alasdair will look at the threat to close the boatyard at South Dock in Lewisham, so please watch out for that.

Here’s a snatch of video from the George Stephenson, again from Alasdair. For some great photos of her, click here. It’s so difficult to believe she isn’t 80 or 100 years old…

Thames Classics Festival at St Katherine’s dock this weekend

Thames Classics festival

Alasdair Flint of historic London chandlery Arthur Beale & Co has been in touch to say that he’s setting up his stall for this year’s Thames Classics Festival, which is now in its fifth year at St Kat’s.

It runs from 11am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Frankly, I’d forgotten about it, and can’t find anything in my email – so perhaps the word hasn’t got round this year. Still it looks like a jolly outing for anyone in town, an opportunity to look at and photograph some old boats, and perhaps to buy some nice bits and pieces from Alasdair…

If anyone does take some photos, please send them to me with a few notes about how the even when and I’ll be pleased to publish a brief report and to re-use them to publicise next year’s do – this year I’ve had to borrow a shot from the website, which I hope no-one minds. Thanks!

Old Struer kayak on show at St Katherine’s Dock


With the Olympics taking place nearby at Hackney, most people probably haven’t noticed an exhibition at St Katherine’s Dock – but regular Chris Brady dropped by and found this hand-made Struer kayak, which a proud Danish exhibitor explained had been used by a Gold Medal winner in the 1948 Olympics.

The exhibitor added that it is still the fastest in the world.

Despite the unreliable-sounding claim about its speed, I think this ‘kajak‘ is an impressively modern-looking item. Does anyone know the story of this type of canoe, or how it was made?

Chris comments that the Danish have largely taken over a large part of the St Katherine’s Dock area, which as well as the exhibition itself also features stalls for promoting tourism, food, design and Lego – and includes a 12ft high Lego working wind generator and a gigantic Lego model of the entire Olympic Park.