Historic cutter is in flotilla to mark Diamond Jubilee

HONOUR The Portsmouth-based naval steam cutter that's taking part in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames

HONOUR The Portsmouth-based naval steam cutter that's taking part in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames

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A HISTORIC Royal Naval steam cutter built in the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee has been chosen to participate in this summer’s River Thames pageant in honour of the Queen’s 60th year on the throne.

Built in 1897 and fully restored to original condition in Portsmouth over the last 10 years, Steam Cutter 438 will represent the National Museum of the Royal Navy as one of 1,000 boats sailing on the Thames on June 3.

The 12-mile spectacle will be the largest flotilla in modern times on the Thames with rowing boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes sailing to mark 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.

The Steam Cutter is owned by Peter Hollins, 90, of Alverstoke, who was awarded the MBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours for his contribution to historic ship preservation.

He will be joined aboard the vessel by his son Tim, 57, and volunteers from the naval museum’s Steam Pinnace 199.

Mr Hollins said: ‘We are really delighted to be taking part in the pageant.

‘In Portsmouth, we have the last remaining naval steam cutter from the time of Queen Victoria as well as the only remaining steam pinnace.

‘Unfortunately the pinnace can’t be there as she is undergoing a major refit, but it is wonderful that our cutter has been selected – particularly as she was built in the very year that there was a last Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.’

World leaders, including Commonwealth prime ministers and US President Barack Obama will be invited to join the Queen at the pageant.

Her Majesty will sail in the flotilla aboard the Spirit of Chartwell – a 210ft Thames cruiser which will be transformed into a 17th century royal barge for the day.

The pageant, which will take 90 minutes to pass any given point, is billed as the most extravagant festival on the Thames since a similar flotilla was assembled for King Charles II in 1662.

It will cost £10m to stage and organisers have appealed for sponsors and donations.

Michael Lockettt, chief executive of the Thames Diamond Jubilee Festival, said: ‘This is an event of monumental proportions – the scale of which has never previously been undertaken, certainly in London.’

Prestigious vessels have also been invited

OTHER landmark vessels from the Portsmouth area have also been chosen to take part in the Diamond Jubilee flotilla, including Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s 32ft yacht Suhaili, which was the first boat to sail non-stop around the world, and Alan Priddy’s futuristic boat Accomplish More, which has been built to break the record for the fastest round-the-world trip.

Also in the pageant is Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Motor Torpedo Boat 102 which took part in the Dunkirk evacuations in the Second World War and was used by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Eisenhower to review D-Day ships in 1944.

British powerboat HSL 102 which was used by the RAF to rescue pilots during the Second World War; the Medusa which marked an approach to Omaha Beach on D-Day; the Spirit of Avalon yacht; and tall ship TS Royalist with its grand sails are also joining in the jubilee celebrations.

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