‘The Trad’ boat show breaks records

More than 13,000 visitors attended this year's 'Trad' boat show on the Thames Photo: Henley Herald More than 13,000 visitors attended this year's 'Trad' boat show on the Thames Photo: Henley Herald

A record-breaking number of boat enthusiasts visited the Thames Traditional Boat Show at Henley, a celebration of older craft that are disappearing from rivers and inland waters.

More than 13,000 people, an increase of 35% on the previous year, attended the festival, known affectionately as ‘The Trad’, where they enjoyed steam boats, Dunkirk Little Ships, skiffs, amphibious cars and the Royal Barge Gloriana.

Sadly, one of the main attractions, the WWI CMB9 torpedo boat, was unable to make the festival owing to an accident suffered by its owner. Chair of the Trad, Lady Judy McAlpine said, “When I was asked to save the Trad, I had a vision of how it ought to be… and this year I saw that vision fulfilled. We had some last-minute fall-outs, like the MTB but it looked good, it felt good and to judge by the crowd, it was good!  Next year will be even better.”

Dunkirk Little Ships

The 30 – 40ft Dunkirk Little Ships carried up to 80 soldiers each, travelling back and forth two or three times during Operation Dynamo in 1940. L’Orage boat led the 15 boat parade, originally owned by TV presenter, Raymond Baxter who formed the Dunkirk Little Ship Association in 1966.

The oldest Victorian steamer, Alaska, offered visitors a ride up the Regatta Course and Henley Reach while the Royal Barge, Gloriana, also returned this year with each of the 18 rowers pulling half a tonne. The 92ft barge was commissioned for the Jubilee River Pageant of 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and was built by 60 craftsmen in just 19 weeks.

Amphibious bathchair

Also on show were an amphibious 1930s electric bathchair, an aluminium speedboat with two speeds, stop or fast, and a motorised sofa.

Steam launch, Elfin, was judged Best in the Show with judge Adam Toop saying, “Elfin is a truly stunning steam launch built in 1895 by Constable of Hampton. She was built to order for Mr J.W. Restler, the chief engineer at the Metropolitan Water Board, whose works built the original steam engine that she retains to this day.”

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