Pomp, pageantry and display. For centuries The Thames has played host to kings and queens, allowing them to glide effortlessly through the heart of the capital.
The waters of The Thames ripple with a grand history of monarchs at play, and the notion of grand celebratory royal occasions on The Thames, beginning with King Henry VIII, has continued down the ages. In the 16th century Venetian-style carnival flotillas for Elizabeth I allowed her to party on the water. She was an expert at turning the river into a grand theatre, with boats festooned in great swathes of tasselled tapestries and gold cloth. They would be crowned by flags with tiny bells sewn into them, sounding out hundreds of chimes as they fluttered in the wind. In the 18th century George I sailed down The Thames on a barge filled with musicians playing Handel’s Water Music, the perfect location for such a piece.
Woods’ Silver Fleet has been serving and transporting dignitaries and Royalty on The Thames for over 60 years now. In 1971 The Royal Nore was renamed and given Royal status by Elizabeth II. In 1997 Prince Charles and Princess Anne were onboard The Silver Sturgeon to witness the finale salute to the Royal Yacht Britannia. This was not just a farewell occasion as it was part of the Queen’s wedding anniversary celebrations. In 2005 The Silver Sturgeon played a key part of the flotilla re-enacting Admiral Nelson’s funeral to mark the 200th anniversary of his victory at Trafalgar.
More recently, the Queens’ 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebration bestowed the capital with the most impressive and extravagant Thames River Pageant in recent times. Woods’ Silver Fleet’s very own Design & Development Director, Kate Woods, was royally commissioned to design the interiors for the Royal Barge Gloriana, which provided the central focal point to the event itself.
Chairman and owner of the company, Alan Woods was appointed Waterman to HM The Queen in 1981, officially allowing him to accompany and sail the Queen on any trips she makes on The Thames. On his retirement in 1997, Alan was made, and remains, a royal Extra Waterman. His son, Tom Woods, is MD of Silver Fleet and won the oldest annual event in the British Sporting Calendar, the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race in 1999.
Along with access to nearly every pier along the banks of The Thames, Woods’ Silver Fleet also own The Savoy Pier. Situated directly opposite The Savoy Hotel, it is one of only a handful of privately owned central London piers, allowing seamless connections to transport links across the capital.