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.
The eight short-listed design teams have been announced for a competition to redevelop the Windermere Steamboat Museum on the shores of Windermere.
The Lakeland Arts Trust recently secured initial support for a £7.4m Heritage Lottery Fund bid, including £494,000 development funding, to take the project forward. The project aims to create an exciting and active museum which will use the lake and the lakeside setting to display the nationally significant collection of steam launches, motor boats, yachts and other vessels which are all associated with Windermere.
The first stage of the competition attracted 114 expressions of interest. The short-list (in order of the architect leading the multi-disciplinary design team) is as follows: Carmody Groarke; Adam Khan Architects; Niall McLaughlin Architects; Terry Pawson Architects; Reiach and Hall Architects; 6a Architects; Sutherland Hussey Architects; Witherford Watson Mann Architects.
Martin Ainscough, Chairman of the Lakeland Arts Trust, commented: “We are very encouraged by the quality of entries in the architectural competition and the judging panel had a difficult decision to select the final eight for the shortlist. We are looking forward to working with the successful practice to create a world class facility in the heart of the Lake District..”
Gordon Watson, the trust’s chief executive, added: “We are looking for a fresh, well-detailed and sensitive response for the stimulating and highly significant site on Windermere and to display the museum's wonderful collection of boats.”
The second stage of the competition will seek design concepts for the project. Architects will need to take into account the requirement of displaying the boats and other items in the collection in the exhibition space and wet dock, and enabling visitors to see the boats being restored in the conservation workshop, as well as designing an appropriate facility for the location to provide a world-class visitor experience.
The design proposals will be subject to public display and comment in late October 2011 and the design teams will be invited to present their schemes to the jury panel at final interviews in late November 2011.