2012 was a memorable year in which DSPC took part in both of the great ceremonial events on the Thames.
June 3rd 2012 saw 1000 boats muster on the River Thames in London to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.
DSPC had 12 boats taking part in this unique event. It was a busy and eventful weekend with everyone playing their role in getting boats down to Chiswick on the Saturday, where Ditton’s crews were assisted by the army in lifting our boats out at the Chiswick boat houses.
Early Sunday morning, the Ditton’s crews departed in high spirits for Chiswick where they had time to finish decorating their boats and making final preparations for the pageant, including final positioning of our specially commissioned Dittons flags.
Once Dittons crews were boated they rowed down past Barnes and Putney, receiving loud and continuous support from the moored cruisers and other crews waiting to take part in the pageant. Lunch was taken in the boats at Wandsworth Bridge, where all the Manpowered Squadron mustered in preparation for the off.
The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’ set off followed by the 300 boats of the Manpowered Squadron to rousing cheers from the 1000’s watching from the riverbank.
Ditton’s crews had practiced rowing in formation and rowed down for the formal salute “Toss oars!” to HM Queen and the Royal party aboard ‘The Spirit of Chartwell’ moored at Chelsea. The squadron continued rowing or paddling their boats down steam to Tower Bridge, now followed by the largest flotilla of boats that had been seen on the Thames in centuries.
It was a great experience to see the huge number of boats on the river and the vast crowds cheering on the crews in a deafening and continuing wall of sound. Yes, it did rain, and yes, crews were cold at the end, but regardless, it was a fabulous day which all of Dittons was proud to have taken part in.
Three weeks later on the 27th July was the last day of The Olympic Torch Relay which culminated that evening with Olympics Opening Ceremony. This was a great event which once again involved both skiffs and punts from Dittons in the first of the three flotillas which accompanied The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’ carrying the Olympic flame.
Dittons crews mustered with the other traditional boats at Hampton Court Bridge to get the best view of the torch being carried onto ‘Gloriana’ by a dancing Sir Matthew Pinsent. We then set off with ‘Gloriana’ receiving a huge cheer as the flotilla passed the Dittons clubhouse. A well- earned break was taken at Teddington Lock before the final stretch to Richmond, where the crews were rewarded with well-earned bacon sandwiches and cups of tea in the rain! ‘Gloriana’ continued on downstream to eventually pass the Olympic flame on to David Beckham to take to the Olympic Stadium for the ‘Greatest show on earth’.
It was a fabulous event made all the more special by the huge numbers of cheering crowds along our usually quiet stretch of the river.
A booklet containing a full and excellent history of the club is available to members. Also have a look at the photos and certificates on the walls of the clubhouse as well as the names of the boats, as some are named after well-loved and valued supporters of DSPC.
Many thanks to all those who organised and took part in these memorable events.
The Clubs’ now President Malcolm Knight played a major role in creating, planning and organisation of both of these memorable events