The Yacht London
1927 The Beginning
The Yacht London ("St. Katherine") was commissioned in 1927 as a survey and inspection vessel by the Port of London Authority from boat builders Philip & Son Ltd of Dartmouth for the princely sum of £21,512.
The centrepiece of the vessel was the dual stained glass window (shown above) incorporating the Port of London coat of arms and its motto "Floreat Imperil Portus" meaning "Let The Imperial Port Flourish".
1939 The Outbreak of War
When war was declared she was commandeered by the Admiralty, fitted with a three pounder and twin Lewis guns and manned by the Royal Navy Reserve Crew as a guardship for the Medway Channel in the Thames Estuary.
In November 1939 enemy aircraft attempted to drop parachute mines into the river to sink Allied shipping and were driven off by the St. Katherine's fire, thus giving her the proud mantle of the first vessel to engage the enemy in the Port of London.
1946 Return to Service
At the end of hostilities she was released back to the Port of London Authority and following a luxury refit in Southampton returned to service but this time as a cruise ship for visiting heads of State and other VIP's.
Sir Winston Churchill smoked one
of his famous cigars over the stern of the Top Deck.
1949 & 1959 Her Majesty The Queen
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited the Yacht in 1949 and then again 10 years later.
The original Pathé newsreel footage of the latter visit can be found on our website.
1971 - 2007 Civilian Life
The Yacht was eventually decommissioned from Royal service in 1971 and sold to Robins (Marine) Ltd to be used as a floating restaurant. Her steam engines (which were originally coal fired but later converted to oil) were removed and the engine room refitted with an extensive galley.
However, following numerous changes of ownership in the ensuing years, this once proud vessel ultimately fell into a state of complete disrepair.
2008 Past Glories Reborn
In 2008 a group of enthusiasts began a £750,000 restoration in close consultation with archivists to bring the St. Katherine back to her former glory, retaining and restoring many original features of the Art Deco era with a twist of contemporary design.
The result is "The Yacht London". That original 1927 stained glass window still stands proudly at the heart of the vessel as a reminder to all board of her impressive history and service to London and the crown.