Labworth all Decked Out for the Queen

The Labworth all decked out for the queen

On Saturday, May 15, 1954 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 returned to the United Kingdom from her successful Commonwealth tour. The Queen was in the Royal Yacht, H.M. Britannia escorted by the Daring class ships, Duchess and Decoy. Midway between Shoeburyness and the Isle of Sheppy they parted company with the Royal Yacht. The escort was taken up by four Gay class fast patrol boats – Gay Bombardier, Gay Charioteer, Gay Charger, and Gay Fencer. As Her Majesty went up river towards Canvey Island a 21 gun salute was fired from the Centre Saluting Battery at Sheerness. Off Southend the Trinity House vessel Patricia took up station ahead of the Britannia and a Port of London Authority barge Nore advanced ahead of Patricia. Three Metropolitan police launches joined the convoy later up-river.

Meanwhile, at Canvey, crowds thronged the newly-finished seawalls. It became a huge natural grandstand for this heart -stirring Royal event. Some people were really determined not to miss the event and they had camped out all night on the seawall. There were hundreds of boats out on the water for the occasion. As the Royal yacht approached Canvey Island the Island’s own flotilla of light craft went out. They were so proudly led by Commodore Arthur Rapkin of The Island Yacht Club. On this gay, triumphant occasion I recalled a grimmer occasion 14 years before when the Thames had been alive with bobbing boats, and yachts, and light cruisers. It was the evacuation from Dunkirk and then as on that later occasion Island men and boats were to the fore.

Canvey Chronicle page in The Bulletin 1981

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