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THE HISTORIC SURVEY LAUNCH HAVENGORE , THE PORT OF LONDON AUTHORITY LAUNCH SELECTED FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT AND MOST ELABORATE STATE FUNERAL OF MODERN TIMES, WHEN SHE PROUDLY CARRIED THE COFFIN OF "THE GREATEST BRITON EVER" ON 30 JANUARY 1965
commissioned in 1954 by the Port of London Authority and built by the Toughs boatyard, Teddington, London, launched in 1956 (official number 187371)
the boat of double diagonal construction in teak with laid teak decks, length 87 feet, beam 17 feet, draught aft 5 feet 9 inches, draught forward 4 feet, gross tonnage 89.19 tons, nett registered tonnage 46.31 tons, displacement 57 tons, height (waterline to truck:) 31 feet, (waterline to top of searchlight: 16 feet 6 inches), powered by twin Gardner 8 cylinder unit engines (833B diesel marine engines), 150 b.h.p., each giving a service speed of 12 knots, propellers 45 inch diameter by 41 inch pitch, design speed of 12.29 knots, generators, auxiliary set Perkins Kv8 and Kv10 (since replaced with 2 Onan Kv 11.5)
professionally restored by the mastercraftsmen of Victory Boat Builders in Chatham Dockyard in 1997-2005, the restoration conducted to the highest specification including the refastening and recaulking of the decks, the replacement or strengthening of the gunnel, new rubbing band, stanctions and hand rail, new chartroom roof, restoration of the exterior panelling including the renewing of the teak beading, re-wiring and new generators, the interior refit with the aft accommodation in Cherrywood and forward in Oak
the longest-serving and most famous launch in the port of London authority fleet, who performed her greatest honour forty years ago in a defining moment of modern world history, when she bore the coffin of sir winston Churchill on the thames towards its final resting place, watched on the spot and on television by over 350 million people.
churchill's funeral was the most magnificent state funeral for a commoner since the duke of wellington's in 1852, and produced the greatest civilian turn-out since since the victory parade at the end of the second world war. The funeral bestowed upon him by the young Queen Elizabeth II was attended by the leaders of 110 nations. It was the first time an English monarch had attended the funeral of a subject. The sight of Havengore with Churchill's coffin departing Tower Pier with the cranes of the Thames dipping in salute, is the most recognised scene of the first ever international televised funeral, watched by one in ten of the world's population. The television attendance in America was greater than that for President J.F. Kennedy's funeral 15 months earlier.
Toughs of Teddington and Dunkirk
The builders of Havengore, the highly respected Toughs of Teddington--established since the 1820s--had already played a key role for Winston Churchill during the Second World War when, in May 1940, they were called upon by the Admiralty to collect boats from the upper reaches of the Thames in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Such was the urgency of the operation, codenamed "Operation Dynamo", that in many cases owners could not be contacted and Mr Douglas Tough, then owner of the boatyard, identified, checked and towed boats down river to Sheerness, where they were fuelled and taken to Ramsgate. Here Naval Officers, Ratings and volunteers jumped aboard and the "vast armada of boats large and small" (Gilbert, Churchill. A Life) set off for Dunkirk. In the subsequent operation which took place off the Dunkirk beaches between 28 May and 4 June 1940 224,318 British and 111,172 French troops were evacuated: thus was achieved what Churchill called, in his speech to the House of Commons on 4 June, "a miracle of deliverance". This was not without cost: many boats were sunk, and hundreds of soldiers and rescuers killed, by the unceasing German air attacks. Even so, the great military disaster which Churchill had thought he would have to announce ("the greatest...in our long history") was averted, and this achievement, together with the knowledge that the Germans intended to overrun France before invading Britain (intelligence gathered from the Enigma decrypts) meant that Churchill, and the whole nation, had "breathing-space, however short" (op.cit.). Even so, Churchill warned that "we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations". Then, in his celebrated peroration, he declared
...We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender...
(4 June 1940, in the House of Commons)
The Port of London Authority and Hydrographic Surveys
It was one of Churchill's own duties, as Minister of the Board of Trade in 1909, to oversee the formation of the Port of London Authority, established as a public trust for the purpose of administering, preserving and improving the port of London (see the Board of Trade Papers, CHAR 11, Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College). The authority began a programme of modernisation, and the resulting efficiencies led to a huge number of goods being handled by the port during the 1920s and 30s, despite the depression of the later decade. This continued after the Second World War, once the docks had recovered from German bombing. One of the most important PLA responsibilities is hydrographic survey, in which the vital task of plotting changes to the bed of the Thames River and Estuary--constantly reshapen by tide, current and wind--is carried out. Charts are produced for mariners and details passed to the Navy for inclusion in Admiralty charts: pilots can then safely navigate their craft just a few feet clear of the river bed. In the past a surveyor could only measure and chart what he could see or sound with a sounding lead (a rope or wire with a weight attached), which was a very labour-intensive process. In 1925 the German vessel Meteor was the first to use the newly-invented echo sounder, which measures the depth of the water by the length of time for a sound signal from a source at the surface to travel to the bottom, be reflected and travel back.
The Commissioning and building of Havengore
By 1954 the PLA's existing survey vessel, the Harbour Defense Motor Launch Shorne Meade, was outmoded and needed to be replaced. Tenders were put out to reputable boat builders, and eventually Toughs, who had regularly completed repair work on the PLA fleet, was chosen. The new boat needed to be bigger to accommodate a large crew and chart-making facilities, but to retain the same speed as the previous boat; 12 knots. For three months Tough Bros. designed and built models, and the National Physical Laboratory, also based in Teddington, carried out tank trials, to design the propeller and supervise the underwater fittings. A model of a boat which would do over 12 knots was established, and by the end of the year work began. It has been a custom of the PLA to name their craft after landmarks and tributaries of the Thames: Havengore was named after one of these tributaries.
Design and construction of the vessel took place throughout 1955, and on 4 Feburary 1956 she was handed over to the PLA. Havengore fulfilled all specifications and expectations. She was powered by twin Gardner diesel engines, housed in a spacious well-appointed engine-room. The engine had been insisted on by the PLA: the Gardner family had started business in Manchester in 1868. Attention to detail, stringent quality control and a positive working environment produced an engine with every working component produced in-house, earning it a reputation for reliability, durability and economy. Even today the Gardner motor is considered by many to be the best, or one of the best, on the market. The deck was planked in double skin teak with a total thickness of 1 1/8 inches, on English oak main members. The superstructure, consisting of Chartroom and wheel house, is also of teak, except for the wheelhouse top, which is of Duralumin (aluminium). As specified, these areas were--and remain--large and well-appointed; In addition the area below decks, containing three cabins, was also spacious, light and airy, with good head-room.
On 1 February 1956 at 8.15am trials for the new vessel commenced, when Havengore left Tower Pier: a departure she would famously repeat with the eyes of the world watching nearly nine years later, when she carried Churchill's coffin. On board during the trials were representatives from the PLA, Toughs Brothers, the National Physical Laboratory, Morris Henty & Gardners, the electrical company J.B. Marr, Decca Navigation, Kelvin Hughes (who provided the echo sounder) and Thornycroft (shafting). They were joined by four journalists. A survey report conducted soon afterwards commented on the vessel's sound construction and smart appearance. The trials were completely satisfactory and she entered service soon afterwards.
Havengore entered service as a hydrographic vessel early in 1956. She was the first survey craft in the country to install a computer to log data, a machine with 16KB of space and ten seconds of memory: the logging process consequently involved miles of punched tape. The majority of the crew on board the vessel during her working life had either Royal or Merchant Navy backgrounds, leading to a shared camaraderie. Uniforms were worn at all times, with the Mate and two Chief Boatmen wearing the uniform of Chief Petty Officer. The longest serving officer was Mr. Arthur Morris, who worked on the vessel from 1956 to 1983.
In 1964 the jurisdiction of the PLA was extended from the Warden Point--Havengore Creek line to include the Thames Estuary. In order to fulfil her extra duties Havengore was upgraded from river operations to estuarial work, requiring the installation of additional life-saving equipment, mast lighting and two-mile range steaming lights. With the introduction of modern survey equipment her crew was reduced from twelve to five. Eventually, with pressures to increase efficiency and reduce costs, she was withdrawn from service, performing her last hydrographic work in 1995.
Ceremonial and diplomatic duties
Havengore has performed another key function over several decades, acting as a ceremonial vessel for important state visits and national celebrations. With the removal of the chart-table and installation of appropriate furnishings the chart room has provided a smart and relaxing area for visitors to be received and entertained.
Her official duties over the years have included carrying members of the `Goldfish Club' (RAF pilots who have ejected and been successfully rescued) every Remembrance Day, joining a pageant of over one hundred boats for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1977 (culminating in five simultaneous firework displays on the River Thames), carrying crew members for the Tall Ships Race in July 1989, participating in the Lord Mayor's Show celebrations every November, accompanying the royal yacht Britannia as she poignantly made her final, official journey to the Pool of London and--most recently--heading the official Thames Nelson Flotilla to mark the bicentenary of the battle of Trafalgar
"...The Flotilla that took to the Thames yesterday did not exist a decade ago, and represented a renaissance in the art of barge building, helped largely by the City livery companies. A replica of one of Victory's cutters was present, but the most touching participant was the motor launch Havengore which in 1965 conveyed the body of another great hero, Sir Winston Churchill, down the river..."
(Daily Telegraph, 17 September 2005)
The present owners acquired Havengore in 1996. In 1997 restoration work commenced, undertaken by the traditional wooden boat mastercraftsmen of Victory Boat Builders in the Historic Dockyard, Chatham. It was here, of course, that Nelson joined his first ship as a midshipman and where his famous flagship HMS Victory was built. This work has now restored Havengore to her original glory, with the refastening and recaulking of the teak decks, the replacement or strengthening of the gunnel, new rubbing band, stanctions and hand rail, a new chartroom roof, and the restoration of the exterior panelling including the teak beading. With regard to the accommodation "the layout is generally as it was when she was built" (Toughs Valuation and Inspection Report, 30 September 2005).
On 9 February 2000 she was certified by the National Historic Ships Committee as a member of the National Register of Historic Vessels of the United Kingdom (certificate number 1819, on behalf of the National Maritime Museum).
The Havengore Education and Leadership Mission
Since 2000 Havengore has been centrally involved in the registered charity HELM (Havengore Education and Leadership Mission), inaugurating youth programmes in the River Medway and East London boroughs to foster a sense of community and citizenship. In addition the charity has promoted debate about the Churchillian ideals of liberty, citizenship and democracy, and how these might be extended to the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. The work of the charity, as a bearer of Churchill's message to a new generation, has been supported by, among others, the National Maritime Historical Society, Lord Watson of Richmond, CBE (who has referred to Havengore as "a floating repository of scholarship, discussion and the Churchill tradition") and the present Duke of Marlborough
...I can think of no more dramatic and vivid symbol of the nation's tribute to Sir Winston Churhcill than this little ship now so beautifully restored. It has a special place, I think, in the memory of all who saw it bear Sir Winston quietly through the heart of London, his coffin draped with the nation's flag, crew and attendant guardsmen standing rigidly yet quietly and movingly beside it. Millions more remember the moment from film and photograph...
(letter to the Havengore Trust, 15 May 2001)
Churchill and the Sea
Churchill had a life-long affection for the sea. On two occasions he held the post of First Lord of the Admiralty. Between 1911 and 1915 he served under the Liberal Ministry of Campbell-Bannerman, his first action being "to establish a naval war staff of three divisions: operations, intelligence, and mobilisation, to prepare and co-ordinate war plans" (Oxford DNB). This was followed by a much-needed programme of modernisation, in which Churchill often clashed with senior officers of the Royal Navy, whom he regarded as "unimaginative and set in their ways" (op.cit.). Typically, Churchill set out to discover every aspect of naval affairs, making frequent use of the Admiralty yacht Enchantress (where he also entertained) to inspect ships, dockyards and naval installations "with a vigilant eye. In defiance of protocol he sometimes bypassed senior naval officers and sought information directly from junior officers or ordinary seamen. Many of the admirals were unimpressed...." (op.cit.) But Churchill pressed on, developing a fast division of battleships, a guaranteed supply of oil for the fleet (from the Anglo-Iranian oil company), and new submarines and extended air support: he was determined that the country should retain naval superiority over Germany.
"You have become a water creature. You think we all live in the sea, and all your thoughts are devoted to sea life, fishes and other aquatic creatures"
(Lloyd George, quoted by Riddell, More Pages, 78)
With the outbreak of war in July 1914 Churchill took "a more active part in the day-to-day running of the war than any previous First Lord in history. His were many of the ideas for action; it was he who drafted many of the signals to the ships. He studied and analysed each operation with great care". (Gretton, 147). Although he initially believed that a naval action alone would be insufficient he was eventually persuaded to attempt an action against the Turks using ships alone on the Dardanelles in March 1915. The outcome, however, was a disaster and, following severe criticism, he resigned. Despite an initial bout of deep depression at his fall from grace he soon recovered, serving in France with the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers during 1916, and then returning to the cabinet as Minister of Munitions (1917) and Secretary of State for War and for Air (1919-1921).
The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 saw Churchill return to the cabinet with the same post he had held in August 1914. Tradition has it that the Admiralty signalled to its fleet, "Winston is back". Churchill immediately introduced radar into all naval vessels and ensured all merchant ships were armed. When the director of anti-submarine warfare, Captain Talbot, queried the figures supplied by his department on German losses Churchill rang him and retorted
"There are two people who sink U-boats in this war Talbot. You sink them in the Atlantic and I sink them in the House of Commons. The trouble is that you are sinking them at exactly half the rate I am."
(quoted in The Sunday Times, 13 July 1980)
In May 1940 Chamberlain resigned and Churchill became Prime Minister, famously declaring to the nation, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat". In his own later account he wrote that he felt "as though I were walking with destiny and that all my past life had been a preparation for this hour and for this trial" (Second World War, 1.527).
Churchill retained a close association with the sea for the rest of his life: in addition to overseeing the establishment of the Port of London Authority (see above) he was created Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1941 and was also one of the elder brethren of the ancient and esteemed Trinity House, the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar.
Churchill's Final Years
Churchill had celebrated his eightieth birthday in 1954 and made his last speech in the House of Commons on 1 March 1955, ending on a note of hope despite the fact that the United States and the USSR now both possessed nuclear weapons: "It may well be that we shall, by a process of sublime irony, have reached a stage where safety will be the sturdy shield of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation" (Gilbert, `Never Despair'. Winston S. Churchill 1945--1965). On 5 April 1955 he resigned from the leadership of the Conservative party, but stayed on as an MP until 1964. In April 1963 the American Congress and President John F. Kennedy awarded him honorary American citizenship. Churchill's one major project in retirement was the mounting of an appeal to establish a British equivalent to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although the project failed to live up to initial expectations the end result was a new Cambridge college named after him, specifically devoted to science and technology. As always, Churchill found some release from the `black dog' of depression--which he had suffered from periodically throughout his life--in the climate of the Mediterranean. Among the holidays he took there were eight cruises aboard the yacht Christina as guest of the Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis. It is reported that Onassis instructed his crew to ensure that they passed through the Dardanelles during the night, so as to avoid disturbing his guest with unhappy memories. Churchill celebrated his ninetieth birthday in November 1964, but suffered the last in a succession of small strokes on 10 January 1965. A fortnight later, shortly after eight o'clock on the morning of Sunday 24th January 1965, he died, seventy years to the day after his father, Lord Randolph Churchill.
Planning for the Funeral
State funerals are normally reserved for the Sovereign as Head of State. Since the state funeral given by Elizabeth I to Sir Philip Sidney in 1587, and before that of Princess Diana (1997), the only other commoners to have had such an honour bestowed upon them besides Churchill were Horatio Nelson (1806), the Duke of Wellington (1852) and William Gladstone (1898). Churchill's is generally regarded as the most famous non-royal state funeral of all time.
After Churchill's heart attack in 1953 Queen Elizabeth II gave orders that arrangements should be made to honour Churchill in this way, and consequently more than a decade of confidential plans and contingencies, given the affectionate codename `Operation Hope-Not', were prepared for the event (National Archives at Kew, papers released on 23 January 2005). The Queen specifically instructed that Churchill's funeral should be "on a scale befitting his position in history -- commensurate, perhaps, with that of the Duke of Wellington in 1852" (letter from The Queen's Private Secretary, Sir Alan Lascelles, to Sir Norman Brook, G.C.B., 5 November 1953; National Archives CAB 21/5978). For the first time in history, however, Churchill's funeral had to be planned and organised with television in mind.
The Earl Marshal was responsible for co-ordinating all the various aspects of the planned funeral, though the family's wishes were always taken into account. Lady Churchill and Anthony Montague-Browne, for instance, were constantly consulted. Sir Winston himself was reported to be "unwilling to address his mind to the subject". As the years went by plans became more complex and elaborate, and various contingencies (such as what should happen if Churchill died abroad) prepared for. More and more people and organisations--though always on a confidential and top secret basis-- were involved: these included undertakers, embalmers, Commonwealth High Commissioners, Ambassadors and BBC and Independent Television.
On 21 March 1958 the first draft of the master paper on "Procedure on the Death of Sir Winston Churchill" was produced. It was subsequently revised at least eight times before the final version of 2 November 1964. Also in March 1958 Sir Norman Brook approached the Director-General of the BBC, Sir Ian Jacob, with plans for the proposed broadcast. On New Year's Day 1960 a major revision of the funeral plans had to be considered when Anthony Montague-Brown reported that Sir Winston
...had now altered his plans about his place of burial. He no longer wished to be buried at Chartwell but had decided to be buried with his ancestors at Blenheim -- i.e. in the churchyard at Bladon...This would involve an alteration of the funeral arrangements. After the funeral service in St. Pauls the coffin would be taken up river to Waterloo (instead of down river to Greenwich) and put on a special train for Woodstock...
(National Archives PREM 11/5211)
Speeches in tribute to Churchill were drafted from 1960 onwards, and even funeral invitations were printed ahead of the event, with the date omitted and to be added by hand later. The fact that Havengore had been chosen as the boat to carry the coffin in advance can be seen from the proof of the funeral Ceremonial present in lot 24, which was printed some time--possibly years--before the funeral itself, but which specifically names her as the launch to bear Churchill's body.
As a result of all this forward planning the government was able to announce details of the funeral within just a few hours of Churchill's death, and only six days, instead of the expected seven, were required to finalise all the arrangements. 113 countries were invited to send one representative to the funeral, with the United States, France and Russia being allowed an additional two.
One factor which could not be anticipated in advance was the state of the tide on the Thames at the designated time when Havengore was to bear Churchill's coffin. The week before the funeral it would have been low water at 1pm, and the funeral vessels would have had to pass between wide stretches of mud, making for a far less dramatic spectacle. As it was, 29 January saw perfect conditions of high water in King's Reach at that time of day: the river was full and floating pontoons almost level with the banks.
Public Sorrow and the The Lying-in State
Many men and women wept when they heard the news of Churchill's death. A huge number of messages of condolence were received from all around the world. These included a letter sent by President de Gaulle, Churchill's former "colleague, ally and adversary" (Gilbert, `Never Despair') in which he declared "In the great drama he was the greatest of all".
321,360 members of the public queued in the streets to file past Churchill's coffin in Westminster Hall from 27 to 30 January 1965. This was despite the particularly cold and damp weather, with bitter winds and the rain often turning to sleet. The Labour politician Richard Crossman recorded in his diary that
"...one saw even at one o'clock in the morning, the stream of people pouring down the steps of Westminster Hall towards the catafalque. Outside, the column wound through the garden at Millbank, then stretched over Lambeth Bridge, right round the corner to St Thomas's Hospital. As one walked through the streets one felt the hush and one noticed the cars stopping suddenly and the people stepping out into the quietness and walking across to Westminster Hall...''
(quoted by Gilbert, op.cit.)
The Funeral 30 January 1965
Churchill's funeral remains one of the defining moments in recent history, and many millions--either from their actual attendance or from the television broadcast--still retain the poignant memory of Havengore bearing his coffin on the Thames with the cranes either side silently dipping in salute.
Early on the day of the funeral, guards of honour were mounted at New Palace Guard (the Brigade of Guards), the forecourt of St Paul's (Royal Air Force), Tower Hill (the Royal Marines) and Tower Wharf (the Royal Navy). At 9.35 the coffin was removed from its position lying-in state in Westminster Hall by a Bearer Party of the Brigade of Guards and placed upon a Gun Carriage drawn by a Royal Navy gun crew (a distinctive aspect of a state funeral as opposed to a royal ceremonial funeral where the carriage is drawn by horses). The coffin was draped by the Union Flag and the insignia of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the highest order of chivalry. At 9.45 the coffin procession left the Hall, escorted by a detachment of the Royal Air Force and accompanied by Lady Churchill, their children Randolph, Sarah and Mary, other members of the family and Anthony Montague Browne. The gun-carriage proceeded slowly to St Paul's Cathedral via New Palace Yard, Parliament Square, Parliament Street, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, the Strand, Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill. Big Ben struck 9.45 and thereafter remained silent for the rest of the day.
Silent crowds comprising many thousands of people--many of whom had left home twelve hours earlier to be among the last to see Churchill's coffin lying-in state--lined the streets to watch, many weeping as the gun carriage was borne past them through the streets of London. The only sounds were the Minute Guns which were fired from St James's Park and from the Tower of London (90 guns in all, one for every year of Churchill's life).
The official procession was headed by bands of the Royal Air Force, Her Majesty's Foot Guards and the Royal Marines, together with detachments of Battle of Britain Aircrews, the Cinque Ports Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, the Honourable Artillery Company, the Welsh Guards, the Irish Guards, the Scots Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Grenadier Guards, a Drum Horse and State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. Among those following were the Admiral of the Fleet the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G. and the Earl Marshall, the Duke of Norfolk, K.G.. At the rear of the gun carriage were the Royal Navy Gun Crew and the Family Mourners.
Attention focused on Lady Churchill as she arrived outside St Paul's. Looking rather frail, and with the cold January wind lashing her black veil, she was assisted by her son Randolph as she made her way with some difficulty up the cathedral steps.
Churchill's coffin was taken from the Gun Carriage by the Bearer Party of eight Grenadier Guardsmen and borne into the cathedral, preceded by the twelve Pall Bearers, who included Harold Macmillan and Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The Queen--ignoring all custom and precedence with her attendance--together with other members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister Harold Wilson and representatives of 110 countries, were packed into the cathedral for the occasion. A congregation of three thousand was present: no larger assembly of world statesmen would come together until the funeral of Pope John Paul II, in 2005. At 11am, once the coffin had been placed upon the bier, the service began. The chosen hymns were "Who would true valour see, Let him come hither", "Mine Eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord" (the American Battle Hymn of the Republic, aptly enough, reflecting Churchill's half-American parentage), "Fight the Good Fight with all thy Might", and--during the withdrawal--"O God , our help in Ages Past". Just before this the service proper was movingly concluded with the sounding of the Last Post and the Reveille by a trumpeter high up in the Whispering Gallery. "For the first time a trumpet had room to sound in a dimension, a hemisphere of its own." (Richard Crossman, writing in his diary, quoted by Gilbert, `Never Despair').
The short service ended at 11.30. Soon afterwards the coffin was replaced onto the gun carriage and, following a signal from the Earl Marshal, the procession began again, this time passing through Cannon Street, Eastcheap and Great Tower Street and finally to Tower Hill. It was here that the coffin, still draped with the Union Flag and the insignia of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, was removed from the carriage and--preceded only by the Earl Marshal, and followed by the family and Principal Mourners--borne aboard Havengore, where she was placed on her aft deck. Aside the coffin stood the bearer party of the Grenadier Guards, proudly standing on salute. From her bow mast Havengore flew the flag of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Soon after she cast off from her mooring to the rousing notes of Rule Britannia, escorted by other PLA and Trinity House launches, a seventeen-gun salute rang out from the Royal Artillery. She eased her way gently along the Thames and then, before passing under London bridge, a magnificent fly-past of sixteen English Electric Lightning jets from RAF Fighter Command thundered overhead in boxes of four, diving, swooping and roaring. Alongside the banks of the river, the cranes of Hayes Wharf silently dipped their jibs one-by-one in salute, in a display of "indescribable eloquence" (Nigel Buxton):
"For some, the most memorable and unexpected moment of the stately ceremonies that marked the end of the Churchillian era then occurred, making the hairs bristle on the napes of the necks of those present. All the cranes on Hay's wharf on the opposite bank started dipping their long necks, like dinosaurs bowing, in an eerie, unforgettable civilian salute".
(Philip Howard, London's River) [see illustrations on pp.48-49]
The closest family members found privacy in Havengore's spacious state-room: these included Lady Clementine Churchill, their children Randolph Churchill and the now Lady Mary Soames, grandson Winston Churchill and grand-daughter Celia Sandys. A second launch, Thame, carried other members of the family and Churchill's private secretary Anthony Montague-Brown.
After London Bridge Havengore increased her speed to the designated 7.5 knots, and, after passing through the number 3 arch of each bridge, she arrived at Festival Pier, where the coffin was borne ashore to Waterloo Station by the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars. From here the Battle of Britain class locomotive Winston Churchill drew the funeral train of Pullman coaches to Long Handborough Station near Blenheim Palace.
"In the fields along the route, and at the stations through which the train passed, thousands stood in silence to pay their last respects" (Oxford DNB). In the ancestral village churchyard at Bladon, near Blenheim, Churchill's body was finally interred in a private family ceremony, next to his mother and father and his brother Jack.
The Television Coverage
"And so today Havengore sails into history...not even the Golden Hind had borne such a great man"
(Richard Dimbleby, during his celebrated broadcast commentary)
New technology ensured that Churchill's was the first ever truly internationally televised funeral: President Kennedy's, fifteen months earlier, had principally been followed by radio. In addition to the BBC's estimated audience of 350 million people worldwide--one in ten of the planet's population--radio broadcasts in forty languages reached countless millions more. Satellite hook-ups, via the Telstar Satellite (launched only a few years' previously), enabled coverage to reach the United States--the audience being greater than that JFK's funeral--and pictures were even beamed on both sides of the Iron Curtain and communist China, one of only two nations to decline an invitation to attend the funeral in person.
The funeral was the largest ever outside broadcast for both the BBC and ITV. The state and commercial broadcasters each deployed over forty cameras along the processional route, sharing some camera positions along the way. The BBC followed the same procedure developed for the Queen's coronation in 1953, in sticking to one commentator for nearly the entire broadcast, the leading television authority of the day; and inventor of the special "BBC voice", Richard Dimbleby. His reverential commentary is perhaps the most celebrated for any broadcast event, succinctly and movingly capturing the sentiments of the entire nation as events unfolded.
The Funeral as seen from America
Americans saw their first glimpse of the funeral on their screens at 10.55am New York time, starting with Richard Dimbleby's preliminary report and the first stages of the procession. This was followed at 11.50, beginning with the passing of the cortege by the Cenotaph, and a third instalment, bounced off the Telstar satellite in orbit, at 12.52pm, which covered the departure from St Paul's and Havengore bearing the coffin from Tower to Festival Piers, ending with the funeral train pulling out of Waterloo station.
As Havengore made her way down the Thames commentary on both British and American television was provided by former President Dwight Eisenhower: "Sir Winston, my old friend, farewell", he said, "May we carry on his work until no nation lies in captivity, no man is denied opportunity for fulfilment". Eisenhower went on
"Americans here today 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. There to lay him beside his American mother...Sir Winston you belong to us as much as you belong to your own British people. We're proud of our share in you...We too salute you"
It would have been President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 83rd birthday on the same day. In between coverage of Churchill's funeral American television relayed images of the ceremonies at Roosevelt's graveside at Hyde Park on the River Hudson. A minister led the prayers: "May the souls of these great departed, Franklin and Winston, rest in peace". New York's 234 year-old Liberty Bell tolled ninety-one times, once for every year of Churchill's life and one extra one of courtesy.
A memorial service for Churchill was held at Washington's National Cathedral on 28 January 1965, in which both British and American national anthems were played by a scarlet-coated band of the American Marines. The politician and diplomat (and great orator) Adlai Stevenson made a moving speech: "We shall hear no longer the remembered eloquence and wit, the old courage and defiance, the robust serenity of indomitable faith..."
As such a memorable moment of modern history, the funeral is one of the great milestones for the generation that grew up in the 1960s, together with the Cuban Missile Crisis (1961), Kennedy's assassination (1963) and the moon landing (1969).
Marking the fortieth anniversary of the funeral
On 31 January 2005 the Lord Mayor of the City of London Michael Savory joined members of the Churchill family on board Havengore to lay a wreath in memory of Churchill, marking forty years to the day since his funeral:
"The peace brought to us by the leadership of Churchill is the bedrock of Europe's current prosperity and London's role as the financial hub of a safe and settled Europe owes everything to those who fought for that peace in the last century. I am sure the great man would be pleased to be remembered by new Europe as our peace and prosperity in his legacy"
(The Lord Mayor, during the wreath-laying ceremony)
The Havengore Crest
A special crest has been commissioned by the current owners of the vessel. It comprises a demi-bulldog affronty vested in a Union flag symbolising strength, patriotism and tradition, holding before him a twisted rope coil; within an azure background two sea-lions combatant representing the Port of London Authority support Churchill's "V" for Victory.
Surveys and Valuations of Havengore
A valuation with inspection of the "very unique craft" Havengore was carried out by Toughs of Teddington on 29 September 2005. This report comments that the vessel
"would be almost impossible to replace as restrictions in import of teak from the Far East would make the purchase of materials to plank the hull...very difficult and expensive. Most of the elephants necessary to remove the teak from the forests have been removed so there is very little suitable teak imported into Europe...No doubt the cost of reproducing the vessel would be between £1.5 and 2 million pounds..."
Prior to this, on 12 November 1999, a survey report was conducted by the Naval Architect Ernest C. Wilson, Naval Architect & Surveyor (commenting that "the bottom examination showed that the hull based on the year of build of 1956 is still in an exceptionally good condition"). Copies of both reports are available upon request.
Both the Toughs valuation and the Wilson survey are included in the sale of this lot, together with a profile and deck plan (23 ½ x 37 inches), and the original certificate of British Registry from HM Customs House, dated 24 March 1956 (certificate no. 187371), tipped into green cloth covers.
Please note that the above Survey Report and Valuation have been independently produced by Ernest C. Wilson, Naval Architect and Surveyor, and Toughs Boatyard Limited respectively and Sotheby's does not in any way guarantee or underwrite any statements or opinions expressed therein. Accordingly, Sotheby's will not have any liability whatsoever in relation to any matter arising out of or in connection with such Survey Report and Valuation.
Havengore will be moored at St. Katharine's Dock, London E1W 1TW [http://www.skdocks.co.uk] from 28th November -- 15th December 2005, and can be viewed by appointment. She will also be available for viewing prior to this at Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4LP. Please contact Peter Selley on 020 7293 5295 to make arrangements.
Commissioned in 1954 by the Port of London Authority, built by the Toughs boatyard, Teddington, launched in 1956 (official number 187371); decommissioned in 1995 and acquired by the present owners the following year
Gilbert, Martin. Churchill. A Life, Heinemann, 1991
Gilbert, Martin. `Never Despair'. Winston Churchill 1945--1965 [volume 8 of Winston S. Churchill], Heinemann, 1988
Addison, Paul. "Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer", entry in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online version, October 2005
"For London River Surveys: Havengore II", in The Motor Boat and Yachting, March 1956
Taylor, Mike. "Keeping it in the Family", reprinted from Motor Boat & Yachting, December 1980
"Ceremonial to be Observed at the Funeral of The Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill K.G., O.M., C.H. 30th January 1965" [together with Order of Service, plans and other documents: see lot 24]
"Operation Hope-Not: 40th Anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's Funeral", news from the National Archives using newly declassified papers, posted online at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk February 2005other sources including BBC website with video excerpts from the live television broadcast and eyewitness accounts ("1965: Memories of Churchill's funeral"), and research conducted by Sally Palmer at Port of London Collection, Museum of London and Wapping Police Archives
"Upon the mighty Thames, a great avenue of history, move at this moment to their final resting place the mortal remains of Sir Winston Churchill...Winston Churchill was Britain--he was the embodiment of British defiance to threat, her courage in adversity...At this moment, as our hearts stand at attention, we say our affectionate, though sad, good-bye to the leader whom the entire body of free men owes so much..."
(Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his broadcast commentary as Churchill's coffin was carried up the Thames by Havengore)
"We can make sense of the future, if we understand the lessons of the past. Winston Churchill, my first Prime Minister, said that `the further backward you look, the further forward you can see' "
(Queen Elizabeth II, 1999 Christmas Day address to the nation)
"He was the greatest man of our time. To us Frenchman he was the one man who after armistice in 1940 stood alone against the storm: He saved your country and my country..."
(Paul Reynaud, Former Prime Minister of France, on the day of Churchill's funeral)