Chiswick Lifeboat Called As Gloriana Gets Stuck Under Kew Bridge

The gilded barge from the Queen's Jubilee pageant was trapped under an arch

Related links

Sign up for email newsletters from,,,,,,, and

The gilded barge Gloriana, which sailed triumphantly along the Thames during the Queen's Jubilee celebrations, had to be helped by Chiswick Lifeboat yesterday (June 13) when it became stuck under Kew Bridge.

The drama happened when two engines on the £1 million barge failed while it was on the river at Strand-on-the-Green in the early evening, en route from London to Richmond.

Image: Chiswick RNLI

The barge suffered damage to the gilded carvings on the side, and the wooden 'crown' on its stern was knocked off. The weather was quite windy at the time and it is believed that when the engines failed the tide pushed it towards Kew Bridge, where it became lodged under an arch. There were two crew members and two elderly passengers on board at the time, and nobody was injured.

The Chiswick RNLI said that on arriving at the scene the lifeboat crew saw that the Gloriana was trapped under the stone arch of Kew Bridge: "It appeared that the Gloriana was travelling under its own power when both engines failed as it was passing Strand-on-the Green. The incoming tide then carried the vessel upstream where it became wedged under the central span of the bridge.

Gloriana being towed up the Thames last year

"While discussing with the skipper the best way to extricate her, Gloriana came free and was blown by the gusting winds to the other side of the span. The lifeboat attempted to get between the casualty and the arch to prevent her from getting jammed again but couldn't get there in time. Once on her starboard side a line was rigged which enabled the lifeboat to pull Gloriana through the bridge to the upstream side. Once in safe water an alongside tow was rigged and she was taken back through the bridge and berthed alongside Kew Pier".

The RNLI said it was important to carry out the recovery quickly as the tide was still rising and the barge would have become more firmly wedged under the bridge causing it more damage.

During the recovery the aft platform of the lifeboat came into contact with the port quarter of the Gloriana and caused "slight damage" to the barge putting a small hole in its side. The lifeboat's aerial also suffered minor damage as it was manoevering between the bridge abutment and the barge.

It is believed the Gloriana's problem was caused by a new battery-powered unit and that the damage is regarded as superficial and will be repaired.

During the Thames Jubilee Pageant, on June 3rd 2012, the Gloriana, powered by 18 oarsmen, was the lead vessel of 1,000 boats, behind the floating bell tower which was at the head of the pageant. Gloriana also carried the Olympic Flame on the river in July last year as part of a flotilla of rowboats, and was moored on the Lea Navigation at the Olympic Park in Stratford during the Games.


June 14, 2013