St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

This September, the annual boating extravaganza that is St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival will see over 40 beautiful vintage and exquisitely preserved vessels assemble in the historic central basin of the marina in London.

The 14th edition of the festival will be open to the public 9 – 10 September and, decked out and dressed overall with signal flags, this year the array of vessels will include the war heroes, the Dunkirk Little Ships, Sir Alec Rose’s famous sailing yacht Lively Lady, the favourite yacht of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ author Arthur Ransome the Nancy Blackett, and the 120-year-old Thames sailing barge Gladys. With live music, food, nautical goods, talks and kids’ activities, it is the perfect day for all the family.

Visitors will be able to view the vessels at water level and meet their caring owners, with each day marked with an opening and closing salute of horns. Talks from knowledgeable hosts will be held on the St Katharine Docks Events Platform and hosts include marine broadcaster, Tom Cunliffe (at midday on Sunday). Onshore at Marble Quay, musicians from the Thames Youth Jazz Orchestra will be entertaining visitors, whilst the marine collectables and antiques seller, David Worthington of The Motorboat Gallery will be displaying his wares. On the water, Paddleboarding London will be offering free stand-up paddleboarding taster sessions.

There will be no less than 19 Dunkirk Little Ships at this year’s festival. The ‘Little Ships’ participated in Operation Dynamo during World War II, evacuating soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940.

Commodore of The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, Kevin Finn, said: “We look forward to welcoming all visitors onboard our Little Ships to help us remember Dunkirk 1940 and the huge influence it had on the outcome of the war.”

On display will also be several examples from the Bates Star Craft and Rampart motorboat ranges, alongside impressive ex-working vessels, such as ex-Port of London Authority flagship and Winston Churchill funeral barge Havengore and the tugs Kent and Barking. Impressive modern vessels will join the lineup of vessels, with 20-metre Navy P2000 ship HMS Dasher and one of London’s MET Marine Police Unit Targa motorboats.

HMS Dasher’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Henry Edwards said: “It is an honour to bring HMS Dasher and her ship’s company up the Thames to St Katharine Docks. The Royal Navy Coastal Forces Squadron has a close relationship with London and with some of the classic boats at the festival. In particular, the Dunkirk Little Ships are our coastal forebears, and it is an honour to be on show alongside them. My ship’s company and I are looking forward to meeting the public and demonstrating what the Royal Navy Coastal Forces are all about.”

HMS Dasher will be open to visitors during the festival, offering tours of the warship and a chance to meet serving members of the Royal Navy.

This free-entry event will be open to the public on Saturday 11am – 6pm and Sunday 11am – 5pm. For more information visit

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