Part 5: Trials, on board for the The Diamond Jubilee Pageant and legacy uses
Back at Richmond after naming, the final elements were added to the decoration. The liferafts and the last pieces of the engineering and electrical fit-out were commissioned and tested. With advice from Neil of Motability and in the final run-up to the Diamond Jubilee Pageant an electric lift was installed so that the invited wheelchair users could enjoy the cabin.
The official trials were held towards the end of May in the presence of surveyors from the MCA and Lloyds Register. The boat was motored to Teddington Lock achieving 8 knots compared with the estimate made at the hull design stage of 7.88 knots at that displacement. In the lock a small-angle inclining test to find the CG was carried out as the basis for the intact and damage stability calculations. I completed these over the next few days and submitted the full Stability Book to the MCA to gain the all-important approval stamp. With careful analysis and much cross-checking at the design stage it is pleasing to report that Gloriana floated nicely on her marks and performed almost exactly as predicted for both stability and speed.
To lead the Diamond Jubilee Pageant, Gloriana had 40 people on board and was rowed by the heroes of British rowing, comprising Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent, two female rowing silver medallists, the disabled servicemen who rowed the Atlantic as part of row2recovery, former paralympian rowers, plus some of the build team and my co-designer, Ed. Hosted by the charity Motability founded by Lord Sterling, guests included firemen, policemen and military personnel (male and female) who had been injured in service, plus four trumpeters in gold dress-uniforms, their commanding officer in regimental dress, Clare Balding and a BBC TV crew, Motability staff, myself and project manager Damian. We set off from Imperial Wharf at 1430 and, contrary to some press reports that the boat was driven by its electric engines, Gloriana was rowed continuously until we passed Greenwich at about 1700. It was not difficult for the rowers to keep pace with our 4-knot escort vessel, the PLA launch “Richmond” which we were not allowed to overtake. Gloriana received a fantastic response from the crowds gathered in the rain (yes, again!) and every time we emerged from under a bridge there was a roar from the crowd that was seeing us for the first time. I was on the starboard side of the boarding deck for much of the time (next to Mark Edwards waving his hat - see next page) and I can now understand why athletes can get lifted by the support of a crowd. Clare Balding did the only decent BBC interviews from our rowing deck. As we passed the Royal Party the rowers stopped to “toss oars” and give 3-cheers, waving their hats.
After three cold wet days for Gloriana’s launch, naming and the Jubilee Pageant, the sun shone on Gloriana for the summer. She was seen by thousands at St Katherine’s Dock; she was rowed by former Olympic medallists at the Henley Royal Regatta; she carried the Olympic flame down the Thames on the last day of the Torch Relay; she was on show at the Olympic Park for the Games and Paralympics; she preceded the competitors of the Great River Race and at the end of the year she transported the new Lord Mayor to his inauguration. Thus Gloriana has already settled into her legacy role as outlined in the official statement below.
While at the Olympic Park the following was displayed on a plaque in front of Gloriana:
The Queen’s Rowbarge: Gloriana
Conceived and commissioned by Lord Sterling, the Gloriana represents a lasting legacy of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The rowbarge was built by a team of more than 60 craftsmen from all over the UK. The project was managed by Damian Byrne and master boatbuilder Mark Edwards of Richmond and designed by naval architects Stuart Roy and Ed Burnett.
Gloriana headed the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, in which she was rowed by 18 oarsmen and women, including Olympic and Paralympic champions and members of the armed forces injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, led by Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent.
Gloriana was named by Her Majesty the Queen. Her Majesty has asked that Gloriana be retained by Lord Sterling and the Maritime Heritage Trust, with assistance from Thames Alive, and has approved that Gloriana be used to promote better use of the Thames and the UK’s inland waterways. This will be achieved by providing opportunities for Royal-supported charities and other charitable organisations to take part in events and celebrations upon the Thames, with a particular emphasis on events involving young people.
Gloriana is moored on Waterworks River, one of the canals and rivers that run through the Olympic Park. Since London was awarded the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games in 2005 these once tidal and largely redundant waterways have been completely rejuvenated. Funded by The Olympic Delivery Authority and delivered by the Canal and River Trust, the area has been transformed by the construction of a new lock and the refurbishment of river walls, towpaths, bridges and abandoned locks. The network has been dredged of silt and invasive weed, significantly improving water quality. New habitats on the river banks have helped to support plants, birds and insects; moorings have been created for boats; and enhancements to the towpaths ensure that the waterways will benefit the area for generations.
The Gloriana was built with generous support from Eyal Ofer, The Gosling Foundation, The Weston Foundation and Lloyd’s Register. She headed the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant under the auspices of Motability.