The proposed new river park in Richmond upon Thames could become home to the Queen’s Royal Row Barge, should planning permission be approved.
Gloriana is the first Royal rowbarge to be built in over 200 years, built as a lasting legacy to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
Commissioned by Lord Sterling, she was built by a team led by local Master Boat Builder Mark Edwards MBE in 2012. She was the lead craft at the Diamond Jubilee Paegant which saw both Sir Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent CBE take a lead role.
At the naming ceremony, Her Majesty asked that Gloriana be maintained by Lord Sterling and the Maritime Heritage Trust and approved the principle that Gloriana will be used to promote better use of the Thames. This is now being done via a programme of opportunities for Royal-supported, charities and other events that celebrate the Thames - with a particular emphasis on involving young people.
However, it is essential she has a safe and secure home to act as a permanent base, with access to the water to facilitate her charitable and ceremonial functions and to enable members of the public to admire her beauty and learn of the history of the vessel, and in practice to learn about the process and methods of building boats from centuries gone.
Over the past few months, Richmond Council has been working with Lord Sterling to identify a possible solution. Several sites have been reviewed but the combined team believe the site of the historic boat house at Orleans Park to be historically, but also operationally, most suitable.
The world-famous Foster and Partners, one of the most innovative international architectural practices, have prepared a potential design for a modern new boat house in Twickenham’s’ Orleans Park. This design has paid respect to the specific needs of the craft, while allowing the public sight and access to the barge.
Whilst the whole project is subject to funding and planning permission, it is hoped that construction on the new boat house, associated visitors’ centre, enhanced new café and play area will commence in Autumn 2015. As part of the Planning process, residents and users of the Thames will be invited to have their say on the proposals throughout July.
Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said:
“This is a once-off opportunity. Other Boroughs were keen to secure the privilege of hosting Gloriana. But as the only Borough straddling the Thames, with centuries old royal connections I believe Richmond upon Thames is uniquely equipped to be the home of this remarkable piece of British craftsmanship, designed and built by our residents and honouring one of our greatest ever monarchs. I am delighted Richmond and Twickenham have been chosen.
“The proposal is, of course, subject to funding and planning permission; however I hope that residents agree that the new Gloriana boat house in Orleans Park, with its inventive architectural design, together with a brand new play area and state of the art café - will benefit not only those visiting the vessel, but also the hundreds of existing park users and be a further conspicuous step in the revival of Twickenham under this Council. She is surely a vessel of which the whole country can be proud.”
Lord Sterling, added:
“Since having built Gloriana we’ve had the experience of operating both down river and up river and it seems to us having had many discussions with Lord True and his colleagues that the geographical position of Richmond and its magnificent history and royal connections suggests this is the natural home for her.
“All generations, foreign cultural visitors and perhaps most important our children will have opportunity in the generations to come of enjoying the wonderful timeless history of this area, a gem in these islands.”
– from a Richmond Council press release - 20 June 2014