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Classic Boat Festival 2017: Vintage vessels, entertainment and more nautical fun

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Classic Boat Festival returns to St Katharine Docks

This weekend sees the return of the Classic Boat Festival to St Katharine Docks. Over 40 vintage boats will be docking at central London’s only marina for the three-day event as part of the month-long Totally Thames Festival.

Visitors will be given the chance to get up close with boats from a bygone era by chatting to the owners and even stepping on board. Among the boats will be 14 of the Little Dunkirk ships, the Queen’s royal barge Gloriana and the former London Fire Brigade fireboat the Massey Shaw.

As well as the nautical action, there will be plenty of waterside entertainment, activities and food and drink including street food stalls, free Paddle Boarding and canoe taster sessions and children’s activities, including Explorer Treasure Quest, Pirate Sword Decorating and Flag Decorating. Meanwhile, there will be live music from National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Barnet Hill Life Boat Crew sea shanty singers.

Totally Thames is a month-long river-related events taking place on the 42-mile stretch of the River Thames. Among the activities taking place are The Great River Race, Tower Bridge Bascule concerts, walks, archaeological explorations, live music and many more activities.

  • The Classic Boat Festival is on from 8 – 10 September 2017 from 12pm-6pm. St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway. For more information, visit the St Kats website.

To find out the history of St Katharine Docks, click here.

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Celebrate National Tea Day with a tea dance at St Katharine Docks

© St Katharine Docks

Celebrate National Tea Day with a tea dance at St Katharine Docks

Brits’ love affair with tea looks unlikely to be slowing down any time soon. So it’s probably no surprise to hear there’s an annual National Tea Day this April (apologies if it’s an important part of your calendar already…).

This year, St Katharine Docks will be hosting a celebration of the mighty cuppa with a tea dance. Following the success of their first tea dance last year, the Docks will be marking National Tea Day, which coincides with the Queen’s 91st birthday. The Ragroof Players will be hosting two tea dances, featuring vintage music from the 1920s to the 1950s, glamorous costumes and stunning dance displays. People of all ages and abilities are invited to join in one of the two-hour participatory tea dances.

Meanwhile, Tom’s Kitchen will be serving Canton tea and homemade lemonade accompanied by a selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes for those feeling peckish between 12-7pm. The Friday World Food Market will also be on site with stalls serving foods with a British twist from 11am-3pm.

  • The National Tea Day Tea Dance is on 21 April 2017, with tea dances taking place at 12-2pm and 5-7pm. At St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway. For more information, visit the St Kats website.

To find out about the history of St Katharine Docks, click here.

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St Katharine Docks: A hidden oasis in the centre of London

The history and attractions of St Katharine Docks by the Tower of London.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

St Katharine Docks is a little oasis just moments from the Tower of London

Situated on the east side of Tower Bridge is a little oasis of calm. Where the boat and pedestrian is king and cars are firmly out of sight and mind. Many tourists don’t even know there’s a relaxing place to eat, shop and drink just moments from the Tower Of London. Over 180 years after it was opened, St Katharine Docks is still hosting boats, as well as being a place to live and be entertained.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The ground floor of the original warehouse Ivory House features restaurants and shops

The River Thames has always been of huge importance to trade and business in London. After all it is the river that helped the Romans decide where to set up camp and found Londonium. The access to the sea via the Thames estuary made it an attractive prospect. Although we don’t use the river half as much as generations of Londoners before us, the waterways of the capital remain a big draw with tourists and locals for scenic reasons to escape the frenetic city.

The name St Katharine dates back to a Medieval church and hospital, which was founded on the site in the 12th century. Over the years, the population swelled with around 3,000 people living in St Katharine’s, which had its own court, school and almshouses by the late 18th century. However, with the country’s world trade booming, there was growing demand for more docks to add to the ever-expanding Pool of London. In 1825, the 23 acre site was earmarked for development, with the church, hospital and slum houses all cleared to make way for the new dock. Around 1,250 houses and tenements were pulled down, leaving 11,300 inhabitants seeking new accommodation elsewhere.

Scottish engineer Thomas Telford (1757–1834) worked with architect Philip Hardwick (1792-1870) on the docks. Telford created the docks themselves in two basins with a lock to the Thames, while Hardwick designed the buildings and warehouses. At the time, theft was a huge problem for trade companies due to the pattern of workers manually lifting cargo from the boat and transferring it on land to the warehouses a short walk away. The new purpose-built docks meant the boats could be brought right up to the buildings with the cargo lifted straight from the vessels to storage. Out of the 23 acre site, just over 11 acres were used as wet docks. The first stone was laid in May 1827 with 2,500 men building the Docks, which officially opened on 25 October 1828. Also on site was the Dockmasters’ House by the lock, which still stands today.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The modern drawbridge still features the original wheel mechanism which was previously used to open it. The Dickens Inn features in the background

St Katharine Docks soon became popular for sugar, rum, tea, spices, perfumes, ivory, shells, marble, indigo, wine and brandy, arriving from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Today, one of the only existing warehouses is named Ivory House – a nod to the former docks’ trading history. Despite bringing in a speedy new way to unload ships, it wasn’t long before St Kats found itself being outdated by the Industrial Revolution. Cargo ships were getting larger and simply couldn’t be accommodated at St Kats. In September 1921, explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) set off from St Katharine’s in his steamship Quest for his last Antarctic voyage. Read the rest of this entry

Sail through history at the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

© Jesper Mattias

Check out the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival
© Jesper Mattias

With speedboats and tourist cruisers the dominant vessels on the River Thames these days, it’s not often Londoners get the chance to see some classic boats. However, this September as part of the Totally Thames festival, St Katharine Docks will be playing host to the Classic Boat Festival.

Docking at central London’s only marina, 40 sail and power vessels will be on display over the weekend of 12-13 September 2015. Visitors will be given the chance to get up close with boats from a bygone era by chatting to the owners and even stepping on board.

As well as the nautical action, there will be plenty of waterside entertainment, including live music from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy, the Sea Shanty Singers and the Dutch Marine Rowing Band. There will also be food and river related stalls and a national maritime museum gallery exhibition. When you fancy a bite to eat, there’s a huge choice of waterside restaurants, including Tom’s Kitchen, Bravas Tapas and White Mulberries.

Totally Thames is a month-long river-related events taking place on the 42-mile stretch of the River Thames. Among the activities taking place are the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, The Great River Race, walks, archaeological explorations, live music and many more activities.

  • St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival takes place from 12-13 September 2015 between 11am-5pm. St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website or Totally Thames.

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Nautical, but nice! Get up close with the yachts and crew ahead of the Clipper round the world yacht race 2015

St Katharine docks

St Katharine Docks will play host to the beginning of the Clipper round-the-world race

It’s nearly time for one of the toughest contests of the year – the famous Clipper round-the-world yacht race. And with the big event kicking off in London this Sunday, what better way to celebrate than with a week of nautical fun at St Katharine Docks. The Clipper race features crews of amateur sailors from 40 nationalities racing under the command of professionals.

Ahead of the Clipper launch, the race village will be open for a week (22 – 29 August). Visitors will chance to visit some of the 70ft racing yachts taking part in the Clipper race on the daily free boat tours. There will also be free model yacht racing and Q&A sessions with the crew. From 27 – 29 August there will be paddle boarding sessions, featuring free 30 minute tasters at 11am and 11.45am, following by afternoon classes and yoga paddle boarding (£25 per hour). African drummers, Chinese Lion Dancers and more will be providing the entertainment.

On 30 August, the fleet of 12 yachts will take part in the departure ceremony before parading out of the Docks through Tower Bridge to commence their 40,000 mile trip. At 1pm, the teams will appear on stage for the official departure ceremony, before the fleet departs St Katharine Docks at 2.15pm. At 3.30pm the fleet parades through Tower Bridge into the Upper Pool, before it parades back through Tower Bridge down river at 4pm.

  • The race village will be open from 22-29 August, before the race starts on 30 August 2015. Takes place at St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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London In The Sky: Fine dining suspended 25 metres in the air

London In The Sky

Fine dining in the air with London In The Sky

Calling all foodies with a head for heights! Move over The Shard and Walkie Talkie – this is fine dining with a view with a difference. A new pop-up restaurant is coming to London in September with diners suspended 25 metres (82 foot) above the ground. London In The Sky will be offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and Champagne Taittinger sessions while hovering over St Katharine Docks.

Twenty-two guests can be accommodated at a time, with diners being securely fastened in to their seats before the platform is raised from the ground. Some of London’s finest chefs will be in the centre of the table preparing meals in front of their customers. Among the chefs taking part are Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle, Robert Ortiz of Lima, Sophie Michell of Pont Street, Michael Reid of M Restaurants, Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina, Tom Aikens of Tom’s Kitchen, Calum Franklin of Holborn Dining Rooms and Chantelle Nicholson of Tredwell’s from Marcus Wareing. They will be serving up a menu of signature dishes, with dinner guests being treated to a Champagne Taittinger reception before their meals. All lunch and dinner guests will have their food paired with Villa Maria wines.

Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle enthused: ‘London is now one of the leading food cities in the world. As if that wasn’t enough, we took it to another level with London in the Sky. It’s a view we are used to at Duck & Waffle being located on the 40th floor but to have the opportunity to cook outside suspended with a view of one of London’s landmarks, Tower Bridge, and being able to directly connect with our guests is something very special indeed.’

  • London In The Sky takes place on 17 – 30 September 2015. Tickets go on sale on 17 July 2015. Breakfast: £50 per head, Lunch: £125 per head, Dinner: £200 per head and Taittinger In The Sky flights at £75 per head. For more information and booking, visit the Events In The Sky website.
  • NB: Since publication, this event has now changed location from St Katharine Docks to the Southbank. It will now take place at 99A Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest station: Waterloo.

For a guide to what’s on in London in September, click here.

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