Thames Flotilla follows former Woodford MP Churchill’s funeral cortège on 50th anniversary

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The life of one of Britain’s most famous prime ministers is being celebrated today, exactly 50 years on from his funeral.

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A flotilla of small boats has left St Katharine’s Dock, by the Tower of London, on the route of the funeral cortege of Sir Winston Churchill, who was MP for Wanstead and Woodford for four decades.

The politician was elected as Epping Division’s MP in 1924, which incorporated both areas, and served the Woodford Division from 1945 until 1964.

The Port of London’s survey launch Havengore set off at 12.15pm following the exact route the funeral took along the Thames to Festival Pier on Saturday, January 30, 1965, immediately after his State funeral at St Paul’s.

Dockers in the former London Docks and Surrey Docks lowered their cranes along the Thames in a spontaneous tribute to Britain’s wartime leader on his last journey through London as the launch passed by.

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images


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Millions of spectators had earlier thronged the streets of the City on that freezing Saturday morning when the funeral procession made its way through Trafalgar Square along The Strand, Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill for the funeral service at St Paul’s, attended by the Queen.

His coffin was then taken to Tower Pier where it was carried on board the PLA launch to be taken to Waterloo to be carried by train to Bladon in Oxfordshire where he was buried.

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Tens-of-thousands lined the Thames to watch the launch pass by, which is being recreated today.

Sir Winston Churchill was given a unique honour in the week before the funeral when his coffin lay in state at Westminster Hall to allow the public to file past to pay their respects.

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA

Churchill's funeral cortege on The Strand, Saturday, January 30, 1965. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The queues stretched back over Westminster Bridge, along Albert Embankment, Lambeth Bridge and Millbank, taking up to three hours for members of the public to file past.

Sir Winston is remembered as the man who led Britain through its darkest days of the Second World War, rallying the nation as Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945.

Sir Winston returned briefly as Prime Minister from 1951 to 1955 before ill health forced him to finally leave 10 Downing Street.

He stood down at the 1964 General Election and spent most of his retirement at Chartwell and at his home in Hyde Park Gate.

He died in January, 1965, two months after his 90th birthday.

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