Dartford Nautical Festival success

Published: Monday, 11 June 2018

 THE inaugural Dartford Nautical Festival was held at Dartford Lock, writes Neil Quarmby.

Taking place on Sunday 27th May, activities centred around the Thames barge ‘Decima’. The 65 tons, 85 feet Decima, built in 1899, was joined by a flotilla of six narrowboats who formed part of the St Pancras Cruising Club Five Creeks Cruise, kayaks and other small boats.

Dartford Festival 2018Helped build Mulberry Harbour

On land the West Hill Morris Dancers danced from the Hufflers Arms along the river bank and in the hold of the sailing barge. The afternoon’s musical festivities continued with a sea shanty sung by Jim Radford. Jim has a connection with Dartford Creek as a young seaman on a tug that helped build the Mulberry Harbour as part of the Normandy invasion in World War Two, part of it was built in the dry dock on the west bank of Dartford Creek.

The photograph by Simon Judge shows the narrowboat flotilla leaving Dartford Creek bound for Barking Creek.

Singers and musicians

This was followed by an excellent afternoon and evening of folk singers and musicians from South East London. The mayor and mayoress of Dartford enjoyed the festivities along with the leader of Dartford Council, Councillor Jeremy Kite.

The narrowboats remained at Dartford Lock for the remainder of the week before continuing to Barking Creek. During the week they also visited Crayford Creek and gave councillors and planning officials from Bexley Council a tour of the Crayford Creek basins and a cruise back to Dartford Lock.

The event was made possible by the hard work of the volunteers of the Dartford and Crayford Creek Restoration Trust who have done much to clear the lock and quayside at Dartford and remove obstructions to navigation.