Havengore decorated for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant
Civil Ensign of the United KingdomUnited Kingdom
NameHavengore (2nd of that name)
NamesakeHavengore Island, a low-lying marshy island off the coast of Essex.
OwnerChristopher Ryland
OperatorVenues of Distinction
BuilderTough Brothers, Teddington
Sponsored byPort of London Authority
Commissioned4 February 1956
Maiden voyage1 February 1956
Out of service1995
Motto"Walk always in the Ranks of Honor"
Honours and
Bearer of Sir Winston Churchill during his State Funeral in 1965
BadgeA demi-bulldog affronty vested in a Union Flag holding a twisted rope coil with an azure background, two sea-lions combatant, representing the PLA, supporting a "V" for Victory.
General characteristics
Class and typeClass V Passenger ship; ex survey ship
Tonnage89.19 tons gross, 46.31 registered
Length25.81 m (84.7 ft)
Beam4.95 m (16.2 ft)
Draft1.90 m (6.2 ft)
Installed powerTwin Gardner 8L3 Diesels delivering 304 h.p. at 900 r.p.m.
Speed12.29 knots
Capacity40 passengers
Crewup to 10

Havengore is a former hydrographic survey launch, originally launched in 1956 for service with the Port of London Authority (PLA). After her withdrawal from service and sale in 1995, she was re-registered as a passenger vessel for up to 40 passengers. Based on the River Thames, Havengore has also served as a ceremonial vessel. She is best known for carrying the body of Sir Winston Churchill as part of his state funeral in 1965.

Havengore was named after Havengore Island, a low-lying marshy island off the coast of Essex. The derivation of the word Havengore is Old English, 'haefen' meaning an anchorage and 'gor' meaning muddy. The adjoining Havengore Creek marked the northern end of the PLA's jurisdiction prior to 1964, when it was extended to include the whole of the Thames Estuary. By convention many PLA vessels are named after features of the River Thames.



Havengore was commissioned by the Port of London Authority (PLA) in 1954 to replace its former survey vessel the Shorne Meade. Built by Tough Brothers of Teddington, she is of double diagonal construction in teak over a framework of English oak. The National Physical Laboratory helped design and test her twin counter-rotating propellers and underwater fittings, while Decca Radar oversaw trials of her survey systems. She was launched in 1956.[1][2]

1956-1995: Port of London Authority

Havengore entered service with the PLA on 4 February 1956. As the PLA's hydrographic survey vessel, she was responsible for recording changes to the bed of the River Thames and Thames Estuary. She was the first survey vessel in the UK to install a computer to record survey data, using punched tape; replacement Unix workstations were installed in 1989. After becoming the longest-serving PLA vessel, she performed her last hydrographic work in 1995, when she was withdrawn from service and sold.[1][2]

1995-2024: Private ownership

MV Havengore

After changing hands in 1995, Havengore was restored and refitted at the Chatham Historic Dockyard. Subsequently, she was used by the Havengore Education and Leadership Mission (HELM) to provide excursions for underprivileged children on the River Medway. Changing hands again in 2006, three further phases of restoration - including the reuse of parts from a 0-4-0 diesel locomotive - have ensured that she remains fully operational in compliance with MCA regulations, while respecting her historic fabric.[3][4][5]

Havengore participated in the river pageant held to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and has taken part in services marking Armistice Day and Armed Forces Day. Moored at St Katharine Docks, Havengore currently undertakes a mixed programme of public service and charitable events and is also available for corporate hospitality purposes.[6][7][8]

Churchill funeral

On 30 January 1965 Havengore carried Sir Winston Churchill on his last journey by water along the River Thames from Tower Pier to Festival Pier during his state funeral. On her journey along the Thames, Havengore was saluted by a flypast of 16 English Electric Lightning fighter jets, and dock cranes were bowed as she passed. This event was broadcast live to an estimated worldwide audience of 350 million viewers, one in ten of the then world population. Archive newsreel footage is available via the BBC website.[9] Havengore carries a commemorative plaque presented by the International Churchill Society inscribed with the words of the BBC broadcaster that day, Richard Dimbleby: 'And so Havengore sails into history ... not even the Golden Hind had borne so great a man'.[10]

Queen Elizabeth

Havengore participated in the river pageant held to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.

On 17 May 2012 it was announced that the Havengore had been selected to carry members of the Royal Family as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in a flotilla of over a thousand vessels during the Thames pageant on 3 June 2012.[citation needed] Members of the Royal Family who embarked on the Havengore for the Thames pageant were The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, The Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.[11]

The craft also participated in observances on the Thames marking Queen Elizabeth's surpassing of Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September 2015.[12]

Ceremony Following Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Fire

Following the tragic fire at the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat in Bow, London, in 2009, which resulted in the loss of nearly all the temple's holy books, the Havengore played a significant role in a ceremony to honor the damaged scriptures. In accordance with Sikh tradition, the vessel was used to scatter the ashes of the holy books into the river, providing a respectful and solemn method for the Sikh community to pay homage to their sacred texts. This event highlighted the Havengore's versatility in serving not only as a symbol of British ceremonial history but also as a facilitator of important religious ceremonies.

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Historic Vessel Havengore". Sotheby's. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  2. ^ a b Browne, Sally (Spring 1999). "Port of London Authority's Havengore: Saving Sir Winston Churchill's Funeral Launch". American Neptune. 59 (2).
  3. ^ "Port of London News: January/February 2005" (PDF). Port of London Authority. Retrieved 4 August 2009.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Churchill's Ship Finds New Home". The Churchill Centre and Museum at the Cabinet War Rooms. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Havengore". National Register of Historic Vessels. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Havengore - Home/Heritage". Havengore.com. Retrieved 2 December 2005.
  7. ^ "Poppy wreath laid on the Thames during Armistice Day service". London SE1 Community Website. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  8. ^ "Sikh ceremony at St Katharine's Dock". FlickRiver. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  9. ^ "The final journey of Winston Churchill (footage of Havengore plays from c.22 minutes in)". BBC. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  10. ^ "The State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill". BBC. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Court Circular June 3rd 2012". Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Business as usual as Queen steams into history books". The Guardian. 9 September 2015. Archived from the original on 17 December 2022.