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Havengore moored in London at night
Career (UK) Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Name: Havengore (2nd of that name)
Namesake: Havengore Island is a low lying marshy island off the coast of Essex. Havengore Creek, lying along Havengore Island also marks the northern end of the PLA's original jurisdiction prior to 1964 when it was extended to include the whole of the Thames Estuary. Note that it has become a convention that many PLA vessels have been named after geographic features of the River Thames).
Owner: Chris Ryland (private individual)
Ordered: 1954
Builder: Tough Bros, Teddington
Launched: 1956
Sponsored by: Port of London Authority
Commissioned: 4 February 1956
Recommissioned: 1997
Decommissioned: 1995
Maiden voyage: 1 February 1956
Out of service: 1995
Reclassified: 2006
Homeport: London
Identification: GHQK
Motto: "Walk always in the Ranks of Honor"
Nickname: 'H'
Honours and
Used to bear the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill at the culmination of his state funeral on 30 January 1965
Notes: A earlier PLA vessel named Havengore was launched in 1910 and broken up in the early 1940s.
Badge: A demi-bulldog affronty vested in a Union flag holding a twisted rope coil with an azure background two sea lions combatant supporting a "V" for Victory
General characteristics
Class and type: Passenger ship ex survey ship
Tonnage: 89.19 tons gross
Displacement: 57 tons
Length: 85 ft (26 m)
Beam: 17 ft (5.2 m)
Draught: 6 ft (1.8 m)
Installed power: Twin Gardner 8L3s delivering 314 h.p. at 900 r.p.m.
Speed: 12.29 knots
Capacity: 40 passengers
Crew: 3

Havengore is an ex-Port of London Authority hydrographic survey launch and ceremonial vessel, re-registered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2006 as a passenger vessel to carry up to 40 passengers.


Specially commissioned by the PLA from Messrs.Tough Bros. of Teddington in 1954[1] and built along traditional lines with a double diagonal skin of teak over a frame of English oak and with superstructure also of teak, except for the wheelhouse top which is of Duralumin , Havengore is 85 feet (26 m) long, by 17 feet (5.2 m) and weighs 89.19 tons. She is powered by the original matched pair of 157 horsepower (117 kW) Gardner 8L3 diesel engines, a design dating back to the early 1930s.

Service with the Port of London Authority

Havengore was in service with the PLA from February 1956, based at Gravesend. She was the longest-serving PLA vessel[2], not being laid up until the early 1990s. She was finally sold in 1995.

Role in Sir Winston Churchill's Funeral

Havengore saw her greatest role on 30 January 1965 when she had the honour of carrying Sir Winston Churchill on his last journey by water from Tower Pier to Festival Pier on the River Thames at the culmination of his State Funeral. This event was broadcast live to a worldwide audience by both the BBC and Independent Television and archive footage is viewable via the BBC website[3]. It is estimated that this last journey by water of Great Britain's WWII Leader was viewed live by 350 million people, one in ten of the then world's population.

Subsequent Ownership and Restorations

Havengore was bought by Australian Owen Palmer,[4] in 1995 when she was in a dilapidated state and was subject to several rounds of restoration at the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent. For a number of years she was used by the Havengore Education and Leadership Mission (HELM) to take underprivileged children on trips on the River Medway.

However, in 2005, after it became apparent that much further restoration was necessary in order to keep her operational, she was put up for sale at auction and expected to raise well in excess of £1 million.[5] In the event she failed to reach the reserve after bidding stopped at £780,000.[6]

Subsequently sold to Gloucestershire businessman Chris Ryland,[7] who stated his intention of ensuring that this historic vessel remained fully operational and on the Thames in London, three further phases of restoration were conducted at Gillingham Marina[8], Gillingham, Kent costing in excess of £500,000. These included the addition of all the safety and other changes necessary for Havengore to be re-registered by the MCA as a passenger vessel. This status was provisionally granted in 2006 and finally ratified in 2008. This upgrade of a fifty year old vessel to meet the stringent safety conditions now laid down by the MCA for passenger vessels is believed to be unique.[citation needed] Also under Ryland's ownership a full restoration of the Gardner engines has been conducted, including the purchase of an old 0-4-0 diesel shunting locomotive, also powered by a Gardner 8L3, which has been cannibalised to provide spare parts which were otherwise unavailable.

Current Berth and Usage

Havengore is currently based at St Katharine Docks, London and now undertakes a mixed programme of public service/charitable events and is also available for corporate hospitality purposes.

Her public service duties have included participation in the river pageant to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar / the death of Lord Nelson (the only other person to have a waterborne element to his state funeral),[citation needed] and a regular appearance at the annual Thames Barge Driving Race. The most recent such public service duties have been to take part in London's contribution to Armed Forces Day on 26 June 2009 and as the centrepiece for an Armistice Day Remembrance Service held on the River Thames just off the Palace of Westminster on 11th November 2009.[9].

Other Locations with Havengore Associations

There is a scale model of Havengore as she was on the day of Winston Churchill's funeral in the Churchill Collection at Bletchley Park Museum, together with original artefacts from the vessel. There is also original newsreel footage of Havengore during the funeral on permanent view at the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall.

Historical Recognition

Havengore carries a commemorative plate presented by the International Churchill Society on her afterhatch, where Sir Winston's coffin rested bearing the quotation from Richard Dimbleby recorded below. She is also a member of the UK's National Register of Historic Vessels.


"12.45 - The coffin will be placed on the Port of London Authority launch Havengore".
TV Times Timetable for the Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill 28 January 1965
"It is almost over. The bands have stopped; the bosuns' pipes have shrilled. They have put the man on the after-deck. It is the water that has him now."
Nigel Buxton Weekend Telegraph Supplement 30 January 1965
"Americans here with you today are privileged; we will tell our grandchildren of how we saw with our own eyes and watched as they carried the great Winston Churchill up the Thames to take him to Bladon Village and there to lay him beside his American mother."
Dwight D Eisenhower Oration broadcast as part of the ITV coverage of the funeral 30 January 1965
"And so Havengore sails into history... ...not even the Golden Hind had borne so great a man"
Richard Dimbleby BBC TV coverage of the funeral 30 January 1965


External links