It was May 1954, the Queen was returning to England following her tour of Commonwealth Countries and was due to pass Canvey on Brittania on her way to London. Jill Sharpe, aged 14, of Salisbury Road, Leigh, Ruby Law, 38, of Cliff Parade Leigh and Yvonne Seager, 29, of London Road Westcliff, decided they would row over and camp at Canvey Point. According to the Echo who researched the event ‘They pitched a tent and cooked their food over an open fire before camping down for the night. At dawn they dragged their 12ft sailing dinghy, called ‘Happy’, over the mud and launched it. They then rowed their way to the deep water channel in order to get a close up view of the Brittania.’
As crowds gathered at the Labworth ready to cheer and wave their flags as the Queen went passed the three in their dingy were in trouble. They were very close to the yacht and could see the Queen and Prince Philip. They were warned by the naval escorts they were too close. As a Royal Navy launch tried to tow them back to shore the dingy keeled over tipping the ladies into the water. The youngest, Jill managed to swim ashore but the others were picked up by the Navy and returned to Southend pier wearing clothes from the Navy.
The Echo reported:
The Royal Navy managed to salvage the women’s dinghy but unfortunately not the equipment which had been inside, which included a 20 guinea portable wireless and a picnic hamper. Despite their adventure going so wrong, the three women were thrilled at getting to see the Brittania so close.
Many thanks to Emma Palmer for finding this little snippet of Canvey History