Jubilee Thames Pageant event
June 15, 2012 at 4:04 PM
I was lucky enough to get a ticket to go along to Tower Bridge & watch the Jubilee Thames Pageant, the largest flotilla assembled on the Thames in 350 years, with Susan & Mary from Beat and so on Sunday 3rd June I started my journey to London. What I thought would be a pretty direct & quick journey turned out fairly nightmarish!! It was the first train to London that day & when it arrived at my station it was already jam packed with people.....only about 3 or 4 people managed to squeeze on! I decided my best chance of getting to London in time was to take a bit of a detour & get a couple of trains instead of hanging around trying to squish myself into a direct train :) I finally made it & was dreading seeing how busy the underground was, luckily (& very surprisingly) the tube was not actually too busy.
I made my way to Tower Bridge, passing through the gathering crowds towards the security area where my ID, ticket & bag were checked before being allowed through. I felt a bit like a VIP going onto the bridge with my golden ticket =) (it was actually gold coloured!!) & went searching for where Susan & Mary had set up camp on the bridge, fortunately it didn't take too long to find them as Susan was wearing a bright yellow baseball cap which I was able to spot quite easily!!
We then waited around for quite a while but the atmosphere, which was buzzing with excitement & anticipation even despite the cold wet weather, made the time fly by. There was lots of media around on the bridge & in helicopters flying overhead, we managed to sneak into a few shots of the BBC coverage! We saw (& heard!) the Royal gun salute coming from the Tower of London before there was any sign of the boats heading down the river, I had never heard about the tradition of the gun salutes, I found out they are done as a sign of welcome or respect, so that was a new experience for me.
At last, we saw a bit of movement down the River Thames & could hear the crowds along all the banks cheering, the Jubilee Thames Pageant had made it up the river and it was heading our way! It was an extraordinary scene to witness, the river had been quite quiet with just a few boats dotted around the edge but all of a sudden we saw all these boats coming, there were so many!! Over 1,000 vessels participated in the flotilla on the Thames from Battersea to Tower Bridge. It was a 7 mile long flotilla, with rowed boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes beautifully dressed and turned out in their finest rigs. A boat carrying eight specially-cast Jubilee bells led the procession of boats & the bells were ringing the whole way down! As the boats progressed down the Thames, all the boats that were moored along the sides were sounding there horns & the crowds were cheering. It really was such an unbelievably fantastic atmosphere!
We spotted the Royal Barge in the distance & then I realised that the arms (google has told me they are actually called 'bascules' apparently) of Tower Bridge had been raised, this was done as a Royal salute to the Queen as the flotilla passed through. The Royal barge was beautifully decorated in red & gold, it looked very grand & regal indeed!! As it got closer to Tower Bridge we were able to spot the figure dressed in white, which was the Queen herself, alongside all the other members of the Royal family who were on board. They were all busy waving & smiling to everyone along the riverbanks & up to us on the bridge (I am sure the Queen waved directly at us!!) =D The Royal Barge passed under the bridge & disappeared from sight on our side of the bridge, they were followed by the rest of the boats in the flotilla.
After all those hours waiting, the moment we had been waiting for the most was over....it was definitely well worth the wait!! Despite the rain starting to pour down on us, in combination with being exposed to quite strong winds up on the bridge (which resulted in a very cold, wet & shivery me!) I was so, so happy that I had gone along & was able to experience such an amazing spectacle that day, it is most certainly a day that I will remember for a long long time. Thank you very much Beat!!