Places to visit

Historic Ships & Boats

london-footprints.co.uk

There are a number of historic ships & boats on the Thames and in Docklands
Those listed below are open to visitors

HMS BELFAST
Morgans Lane, Tooley Street SE1 2JH. Tel 020 7940 6300.

A powerful cruiser built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast in 1936-8. In 1939 it was damaged by a mine but was rebuilt by 1942 and covered Russian convoys and supported allied landings on D-Day. It served in the Far East from 1945 and performed peacekeeping duties before becoming a floating barracks at Portsmouth in 1963. Saved from the scrapyard by the Imperial War Museum it was moved to the Thames for public opening in 1971. Visitors can now explore its seven decks.
Open daily 10-6 (Mch - Oct) 10-5 (Nov - Feb). Charge for adults but children free.
SS ROBIN
Tilbury Dock. Tel 020 7538 0652

The world's only complete coastal cargo steamer. It was built at Thames Ironworks, Orchard House Yard, Bow Creek in 1890 and fitted out in East India Dock with its engines installed in Dundee. Cargoes were carried between Britain and Europe until 1900 when the ship was sold to Spain. In 1974 it was about to be scrapped but was rescued by the Maritime Trust and steamed back to England. It was moored for at time at St Katherine's Dock but moved under the LDDC to West India Quay. Having undergone a major restoration in Lowestoft it has been given a berth in the Royal Victoria Dock near Millennium Mills whilst further work is carried out to prepare it for opening in 2013.

GOLDEN HINDE (Replica)
St Mary Overie Dock, Cathedral Street SE1 9DE. Tel 08700 118 700.

A full sized reconstruction of the 16th century ship in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world between 1577-80. Authentically hand-crafted it was built in Devon and launched in 1973. It retraced Drake's route in 1979-80 crewed by a Master, Mate, Cook and 10-12 deckhands, living as the original 60 crew would have done. It now operates as a living history museum running a schedule of education programmes for schools and families. At other times it is open to the public for self guided tours with exhibits and artifacts on five decks.
Thames Foreshore and Southwark & the Borough walks
STEAM TUG PORTWEY
South Dock (east end). Tel 07973 139491.

Constructed at Harland & Wolff in Govan and launched in 1927. It served coaling companies in the South West with a period on war service in 1942-6. It worked until 1967 when it was saved from scrap. Since 1982 it has been owned by a trust and based in London. Money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the efforts of dedicated volunteers has enabled major repairs to be undertaken. A booklet on the ship's history has also been produced. Usually open to visitors on Wednesdays 2-9pm. Deptford & Millwall and Surrey Docks walks.

CUTTY SARK
Cutty Sark Gardens SE10 9HT. Tel 020 8858 3445

This ship was built in Dumbarton in 1869 and is the last of the tea clippers. The name means 'short shirt' as worn by the witch Nannie in the Burns poem 'Tam O'Shanter'. It brought tea from China until 1877 but with the opening of the Suez Canal switched to general cargoes. Between 1883-1895 it served the Australian wool trade. It was then sold to Portugal which used it to trade with its colonies. In the 1920s it was purchased by a Cornish mariner and given for use as a training ship. It went on display at Greenwich in the 1950s, partly as a memorial to the men of the Merchant Navy.
It reopened in 2012 after a major restoration.
Greenwich walks

Visiting ships are sometimes open to the public. These are usually moored alongside HMS Belfast, in the West India or St Katherine's Docks or at Woolwich Arsenal Pier.

The following are not open as attractions but can be seen at close quarters and are accessable in some instances (ie to diners)

HQS WELLINGTON is the white ship moored at Victoria Embankment. Tel 020 7836 8179.
A Grimsby Class sloop launched in 1933 it first served in New Zealand. It was on convoy duty through World War II and assisted with the Dunkirk evacuation. It was purchased in 1947, having been in reserve at Milford Haven and was converted at Chatham to become the Livery Hall of the Master Mariners. The Master Mariners wished to form a guild after World War I. They received a Royal Charter in 1930 and were granted livery in 1932.
The vessel has occasional open days. Visits can also be arranged for those interested in maritime history and guided tours are available for groups (nominal cost to include refreshments). Thames Foreshore and Inns of Court walks

HMS PRESIDENT is the blue ship moored at Victoria Embankment.
A sloop of World War I it now serves as a venue for special events. Thames Foreshore walk

TS QUEEN MARY on north bank near Waterloo Bridge
Built in 1933 at a cost of 62,000 at William Dennys in Dumbarton. It provided excursions on the Clyde for 1500 passengers. The ship was bought to London in the 1980s as a pub/restaurant with spaces for hire and was refurbished in 1997.

THREE SISTERS (Replica) Tobacco Dock, off The Highway E1
This is a copy of a 330 ton ship built at Blackwall Yard in 1788. It took manufactured goods to the East & West Indes and returned with tobacco and spices. It was set up as a visitor attraction dealing with pirate history. Shadwell & Wapping walk

SEA LARK (Replica) Tobacco Dock, off The Highway E1
This is a copy of an 18th century American built merchant schooner. It was captured by the Admiralty during the Anglo-American War in 1812-4. It was set up as a visitor attraction with a 'Treasure Island' theme. Shadwell & Wapping walk

DAME DE SERK Nelson Dock, off Rotherhithe Street SE16
This French Navy training barque, built in 1952, serves as a restaurant to the Scandic Crown Hotel. Surrey Docks walk

THAMES SAILING BARGES St Katherines (West) Dock
The early versions were wind-powered. Hundreds operated carrying corn and hay from East Anglia. They needed only a skipper and mate or man and boy and could even be sailed alone. Many of the sails were painted with a red substance. A number are moored in St Katherines including RAYBEL, PHOENICIAN, ADIEU, BENC, MARJORIE & ARDWIN (?). Shadwell & Wapping walk

THE LIGHTSHIP St Katherines (West) Dock
This was built in Copenhagen in 1877 and utilised around the Danish coast. It was seized by the Germans in 1943 but returned in 1946. It was used until 1972 then was converted into a restaurant (currently closed). Shadwell & Wapping walk

CONTINENTAL BARGES West India Dock
A number are moored alongside the Museum of London Docklands including DANA and MARIA. The
LEVEN IS STRIJD was built in Holland in 1928 and carried grain. In 1985 it travelled under its own steam to its present mooring and is now available for private hire. The PRINS serves as the Prenelle Gallery. ST PETER was a Dutch freight barge which was refitted and brought across under its own steam in 2003. It is now a floating church with lunchtime talks at 1:05 on Wednesdays and 1:15 on Thursdays. Sunday services are at 4pm (with Sunday School & creche) and 6:30pm. Canary Wharf Estate and East to West India walks

THE MASSEY SHAW South Dock
This firefloat is named after the brigade's first Chief Officer Eyre Massey Shaw. It was commissioned by the LCC in 1935 and constructed by J Samuel Whites of Cowes IOW at a cost of 18,000. As one of the Dunkirk 'Little Ships' it rescued 600 soldiers and played a major role on the Thames during the Blitz. It was retired in 1971, one of the last shouts having been to Tate & Lyles at Silvertown. In 1980 it was acquired by a charitable preservation society who are carrying out restoration work. The Gleniffer diesel engines and pumping equipment were made by Merryweathers of Greenwich.

Boats of interest can also be found in the South Dock at Surrey Quays and Limehouse Basin.


If you are interested in historic ships a visit to Chatham Dockyard is recommended. It is outside the Travelcard area but there are trains to Chatham from Central and SE London. The 80 acre site has lots of exhibitions and attractions including the submarine OCELOT, Victorian sloop GANNET and WWII destroyer CAVALIER. There is also a display of lifeboats and it serves as a base for the paddle steamer KINGSWEAR CASTLE (trips available). [
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london-footprints.co.uk 2013

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