Published: Tuesday, 24th May 2022

Thousands are expected to watch a momentous occasion on the River Medway to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s unparalleled 70 years on the throne.

More than 100 boats will sail past historic sights in the south-east as part of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The River Medway will play host to vessels, including extraordinary ships such as the steam puffer VIC 96 and a collection of 100-year-old Thames sailing barges.

The riverbanks in Chatham from Gun Wharf to Sun Pier are expected to be filled with people eagerly awaiting the parade of vessels, including East Coast fishing smacks (traditional sailing fishing boats) and commercial and recreational craft, on Saturday, 4 June.

The Platinum Jubilee Medway River Pageant will begin at 12.30pm when the vessels come together near Upnor, led by a local rowing boat contingent from the Medway Towns Rowing Club and clubs from Queenborough and Faversham.

They will meander along the River Medway, passing Chatham landmarks before arriving at Sun Pier in Chatham at 2.30pm.

Sun Pier will have a street party vibe with live music, including a 30-piece choir performing pop music, a folk band and Music Hall singalong performers.

Her Majesty The Queen will even have an official representative aboard one of the vessels. The Lord Lieutenant of Kent, The Lady Colgrain, will join the head of the fleet before conducting a fleet review at Sun Pier at approximately 2.30pm.

At 3.30pm a 21-Gun Royal Salute will be fired from Fort Amherst in Chatham to mark the occasion, signalling the start of 'The Grand Cacophony' – a synchronised spectacle of sights and sounds from ship to shore with the sounding of horns, cheering from the crowds, church bells ringing and further amplified by the whistles of steam locomotives at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

The River Pageant has been organised in partnership with Tiller and Wheel CIC, which was set up in 2019 to raise the profile of the historic ships of the East Coast and encourage greater engagement with our rivers and coastline. The company offers free sailing experiences throughout the year, supported by a patron scheme, to make sailing financially accessible to all.

The River Medway is at the heart of our celebrations

Deputy Leader of Medway Council, and Portfolio Holder for Community Services, Cllr Howard Doe, said: “We have a fantastic range of family-friendly events and activities planned to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and I am pleased that the River Medway is at the very heart of our celebrations. Witnessing more than 100 historic ships and sailing barges coming down the river will be a truly spectacular sight and with entertainment for all the family to enjoy, the unique event is not one to be missed. We are looking forward to welcoming residents and visitors to Medway to mark, and celebrate, this momentous occasion.”

Ed Gransden, Director of Tiller & Wheel CIC, said: "70 years ago, when the Queen ascended the throne, the River Medway was a hub of activity - sailing barges, steam tugs and commercial craft filled the water. The Jubilee will bring life back to this part of the river in spectacular fashion and showcase the best of the modern river community."

Medway’s impressive events and festivals programme, and the Medway Jubilee River Pageant supports the council’s aspiration to become a Child-Friendly City, putting children and young people at the heart of everything it does.

Find out more about Medway’s fantastic jubilee events

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