My Queen previously Gondolier Queen

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
My Queen previously Gondolier Queen
Boat Type: 
Passenger boat
Boat Length: 
56ft 6ins
Boat Beam: 
14ft 8ins
Boat Draft: 
3ft 9ins
Boat Displacement: 
36.76 tons
Boat Engine: 
2 x Ford Watermotor
Boat Construction: 
Carvel
Boat Builder: 
Husk & Son, Wivenhoe
Boat Year: 
1929
0

Another of Ridall's Red Cruisers at Dartmouth is My Queen, whose name was Gondolier Queen when she went to Dunkirk. At that time she was working as a passenger craft in the Poole and Swanage area in Dorset.

She was built in 1929 by a small Essex boatbuilder, Husk & Son of Wivenhoe. Gondolier Queen, although intended for passenger carrying from the outset, was an almost open, single-deck vessel with a small wheelhouse amidships. For most of her life she remained that way. Her services were retained by the Navy after the evacuation, and she is next heard of as a pleasure boat at Southend where she remained until the early 1970s.

George Wheeler Launches then brought her to the Thames, running a water-bus service between Westminster Pier and Greenwich. From there she went to the West Country and was given a new enclosed saloon, a top deck and an upper wheelhouse.

My Queen carries her passengers well, up to 169 of them at a time, for she has a very broad beam for her length. She has a shallow draft and John Ridalls, whose father started the family firm in 1930, says that My Queen "could float in a bucket."

During the season she carries boatloads of American visitors up the River Dart to Totnes. Many of them have come here, since the day in 1944 when 485 American landing craft went out of the River Dart bound for the D-Day landings four years after the Dunkirk evacuation. It is fitting that so many survivors re-kindle their memories on a boat that also went to war. Indeed, when France's President Mitterrand visited the area, it was on My Queen that he sailed up the Dart to look again at Brookhill House, wartime base of the Free French Forces, where he served with General de Gaulle.

It is a strange coincidence that Gondolier Queen has come to work alongside her wartime companion at Dunkirk. Her present owners, who bought her two years ago, did not know much about her history then, but now appreciate and preserve her all the more for that.

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 19 & 20

Not yet updated

Comments

My Queen

My wife and I took a half hour trip around the bay on My Queen today from Dawlish breakwater. We were very impressed by the excellent condition, for it's age, of this vessel. We put this down to a dedicated Skipper and crew whome we could see loved this craft. It was also nice to see the Dunkirk plaque and penant flying. We both felt proud and honoured to be given the opportunity to sail on such a valulable piece of history.

Don & Sylvia Mason.

My Queen

My Queen is now owned by Exe to Sea, based at Starcross on the western side of the river Exe in Devon. She is in regular use on the summer season Starcross to Exmouth ferry and on local cruises. We have been on her at least 3 times in recent years [most recently in February this year] during the winter when she is used for bird watching cruises organised by the RSPB on the River Exe, she is a good platform for this and the cruises are often fully booked . She has a brass plaque below her bridge recording her role at Dunkirk, this years 70th commemoration crossing has prompted me to add this note . May she continue to thrive and give much pleasure to many people in the years to come. Adrian.

My Queen

I have had the pleasure of a 30 minute boat trip on My Queen and was so proud!!! To discover that she had helped at Dunkirk was so impressive and I felt humbled to be a passenger on her. If you take the trip from Dawlish, be respectful as I was. I am a mere 55 year old and felt honoured to make the journey. Thanks, My Queen.