THE THAMES TRADITIONAL BOAT FESTIVAL.

I went with my wife to the Thames traditional Boat Festival which is held on the River Thames at Henley-on Thames and is a gathering of traditional wooden boats together with quite a number of the surviving boats which went over to Dunkirk in 1940 to rescue our troops from the Normandy beaches and are Members of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships.

We stayed at Leander Club which was founded in 1818 and is a private Members’ club that boasts an unsurpassed record in rowing achievements, the bedrooms of which are all decorated with rowing memorabilia and were joined for dinner by our friends Francis and Tracey which was rather nice as we haven’t seen them for some time.

This is the story of the formation of the Association, in Spring 1964 Raymond Baxter purchased one of the Little Ships and that Summer was flying to France by British Air Ferries for a family holiday. The plane flew over Dunkirk and he pointed the Beaches out to his son, Graham, who was then 13 years old. Graham asked his father if he realised that the next year (1965) it would be 25 years since ‘L’ORAGE’ had been “doing her thing down there so why don’t we take her back?”

​To cut a long story short, Raymond approached the Sunday Times (whose then Editor, Dennis Hamilton, was rescued from the Beaches). A letter from Raymond was published in the Sunday Times in October 1964 saying that he planned to take his Little Ship back the following June, and if any other owners wished to join him would they please write to the newspaper. The Sunday Times had agreed to help with the organisation if they got 12 replies. 43 boats made the crossing from Ramsgate with Royal Naval assistance and support from the RNLI. The BBC provided Radio and Television coverage.

​At a cocktail party given by the Sunday Times in December 1965 to show off their Press coverage, both Commander Charles Lamb and John Knight (who had participated in the Return) separately suggested to Raymond Baxter (who already had similar thoughts) that an Association should be formed.

All of these boats are absolutely stunning but some of them are absolutely Concours and are in far better condition than they would have been when new and are a joy to see, including Raymond Baxter’s boat L’ORANGE.

We went in my 1947 Bentley Mk VI and dressed in our forties outfits and as I had become a Member of the Tames Traditional Boat Festival we had tickets for the Member’s Enclosure and what with a flying display by a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial flight and a display by two WW1 triplanes, one RAF and one German, all in all a jolly fine weekend was had by all.

About The Diary of a Country Bumpkin

I am a retired actor, although to be honest I only retired because I wasn't getting any work and the option of becoming an unemployed actor/waiter at my age was ludicrous, especially as my waiting skills are non-existent. Having said I’m retired, I don’t think there really is such a thing as a retired actor for I am still available for work, I just don’t have an agent or any connections with regards to obtaining any worthwhile work. I have over the years done student films when there is nothing else available, always low paid (if at all) the only incentive was always the promised copy of the finished film for your show reel which nine times out of ten always failed to materialise. I spent many years looking after my aged mother who had dementia, hence the lack of acting work but shortly after her death I was lucky enough to run into an ex-girlfriend of many years ago and our romance blossomed once again, resulting in us getting married in 2013. My move to the countryside inspired me to write The Diary of a Country Bumpkin which tells of my continuing dilemmas in dealing with the rigors of the countryside from the unexpectedly large number of pollens, fungal moulds and hay products waiting to attack the unsuspecting townie. I enjoy writing, see my play Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori on The Wireless Theatre Company, The Plays Wot I Wrote and The Battle of Barking Creek both available on Amazon.co.uk and am very fond of classic cars so my ideal occupation would be acting in a film I had written set in the 1930s/40s, we live in hopes. I am delighted to say that since venturing to the countryside where space is not quite the premium it is in town, I have due to the availability of two double garages acquired more classic cars to form a small collection the pride of which are a 1947 Bentley Mk VI and a 2000 Bentley Arnage. My various blogs and websites are continually evolving and I’m sure that by following the appropriate links you will find something which will edify or amuse.
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3 Responses to THE THAMES TRADITIONAL BOAT FESTIVAL.

  1. SueW says:

    Sounds like a lovely memorable event.

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