A LAKE District boat is to join a thousand-strong fleet sailing in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee procession on the Thames this summer.
One of Windermere’s well-worn wooden tourist vessels has been selected by Royal organisers to take part in the event – the largest flotilla in modern times.
More than two million people are expected to watch from the embankments of the Thames as the seven-mile procession steers through London waters.
Cumbria’s own aptly-named participant, The Queen of the Lake, owned by Windermere Lake Cruises, is currently being repainted and refurbished for the spectacular, on Sunday, June 3.
The flotilla will be led by Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal family aboard a barge called The Spirit of Chartwell.
It will sail under 14 bridges, alongside groups of narrow boats, historic vessels including World War Two ships from the Dunkirk beaches and replica Tudor ships.
Managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises Nigel Wilkinson said: “We are delighted Cumbria will be represented at such a high-profile, patriotic event which will inevitably strike a cord with the whole country as we celebrate her Majesty the Queen and her 60-year reign together.
“We hope to be able to involve the wider Cumbria community in this project and to give some younger Cumbrians a day out that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Boat building manager Alex Williamson and operations manager Russell Bowden will lead the team south for the patriotic event.
Windermere skipper Ron Walker will captain the boat on the day itself.
The 15-metre tourist boat, built in 1949, will be hoisted out of the water at Ambleside and driven almost 300 miles by lorry before it is launched on the Thames.
It is a reversal of the ship’s initial northern voyage, 60 years ago, when she was transported to Windermere from the Thames-side town of Molsey, where she was built.
It is not the first time the Queen of the Lake has been given a Royal mark of approval. In March 2010 it carried the Prince of Wales when he visited the Lake District.
ONE of the most important collections of watercolour paintings in the world is heading our way.
More than 40 works from the exquisite holdings of Sir Hickman Beckett Bacon (1855-1945), an avid collector of English watercolours between 1895 and the First World War, will be on show at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, from January 12 until April 14.
Now owned by Sir Nicholas Bacon, the precious paintings will be loaned to the Kendal gallery for its next exhibition - Turner and his Contemporaries: The Hickman Bacon Watercolour Collection.
Abbot Hall chief executive Gordon Watson was thrilled at the prospect of the eminent display, which should have the eyes of the nation’s arts world focused on the important regional gallery.
In fact, a fitting time to stage such a grand show as Abbot Hall celebrates a half century since its opened its celebrated doors.
Gordon added: “Fifty years ago on September 28, 1962, Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret officially opened the gallery and since then Abbot Hall has established itself as one of the most significant and ambitious galleries in the north of England.”
Rarely aired in public, the collection will be shown alongside highlights from Abbot Hall’s own permanent collection of watercolours.
Sir Nicholas said that he was delighted to be able to lend the paintings to Abbot Hall.
He continued: “My great uncle Sir Hickman Bacon (Hicky) had unusual tastes for his time and thus the collection is very strong in the type of late, ethereal Turner watercolours that only became widely popular with the advent of abstract painting in the 1940s and 50s. Equally, John Sell Cotman, an artist who had only just emerged from total obscurity, was of particular interest.
“Hicky’s collection represents English watercolour painting at its greatest; like so many collectors he was not interested by the fashion of the day, but he was committed to collecting those objects which fulfilled his heartfelt love of beauty.”
Born in 1855 into a family of landed gentry, Sir Hickman was educated at Eton. He joined the army, later returning to his old-fashioned family mansion. He suffered from ill health early in his life, and remained a bachelor until he died in 1945. He also collected fabrics, wall hangings, ceramics and Japanese prints – a collection he gave to the Japanese Government.
Abbot Hall collections manager Nick Rogers said that an exhibition of watercolours from the ‘remarkable’ Hickman Bacon collection was a cause for celebration wherever it was held. He added: “That it is taking place in Kendal, Cumbria, is particularly appropriate, as this is an area that played a significant role in the development of watercolour as the medium of choice for the itinerant artist in the late 18th and early 19th Century.”