All posts by pippabutterfield

Special Anniversary Cruise 3-5 July

Venturer last cruised the tideway to Tower Bridge and beyond ten years ago. Now she is revisiting the Pool of London, sailing from Kingston to the Thames Barrier and back over one weekend, to celebrate 20 years on the River Thames and to fundraise for our second boat.

Leaving Kingston on Friday 3rd July at cocktail hour, we will take an evening cruise down to Chiswick Pier where we will moor for the night. There will be an introduction to the work of the Pier Trust and the RNLI station there, or you can walk ashore with a self-help guide to follow the Thames Path through the historic Chiswick to Hammersmith reach.

On Saturday we depart early and pass through London, to moor late morning at the Hermitage Moorings – only accessible to historic boats. From there, we have a perfect view for watching the Thames Historic Barge Driving event that afternoon; Watermen and Lighterman row barges upstream from Greenwich to Westminster in their annual celebration of the days when rowing was the only power available.  There will then be time to explore ashore.

On Sunday we take the ebb tide down to the Thames Barrier and then turn upstream to enjoy the full flow back home, taking in the glory of Central London’s sights, and views that have changed radically in the last ten years, before disembarking back in Kingston later in the afternoon.

Residential places for the full experience are now all taken but there are two day spaces for Saturday and two for Sunday.  Early starts from Chiswick Pier (Saturday) or the Hermitage Moorings (Sunday).  There is a suggested donation of £75 for joining the cruise for the day including breakfast and a light lunch or (Saturday only) £100 if you’d like to stay for dinner too.  If you are interested email

Reproduced from the Friends Spring 2015 Newsletter

Technical News

Some very interesting new technology will be arriving on the Venturer which will improve the experience of our clients.  Thanks to the generous sponsorship of The Hedley Foundation, we will be buying six tablets and a wireless 4G router.  There are a number of uses for the tablets.  We will go paperless for cruise log sheets and client feedback and be able to upload the information directly to the office.  Clients will have access to the tablets while on the boat to take pictures or research information about the river and what they are seeing.  We will be able to offer them as a communications tool for clients with speaking or hearing issues – some clients already bring devices on board for those who communicate through the use of a keyboard.   And they will also be useful in the education programmes.

In addition to the tablets we also now have FishCam. This is an underwater video camera on a pole which we can use to show what is happening under the surface of the river.  The images are fed directly by a cable to the laptop on board.  This was acquired initially for the education programmes but also has the potential to be used for client groups when the boat stops at lunchtime.  Some might wonder whether the Thames is too murky for much to be visible, but be assured that on a good day there will be plenty of fish to be seen!

(Reproduced from the Friends Spring 2015 newsletter)

Help us with Fundraising

Can you help us raise funds through your online shopping?

The charity has signed up to Give as you Live, an online shopping link which gives donations to charities from commissions paid by the online retailers you buy from (at no cost to you). You first need to join, and select the River Thames Boat Project as your cause.  If you join using this link we will obtain an additional £5.

There is a website page from which you can click through to retailers, or use a price comparison function, or check on how much you have raised. If you prefer you can install the ‘shopping toolbar’ which then shows at the top of the screen whenever you go directly to a participating online retailer (although some like Amazon don’t allow them, so you will need to access them from the Give as you Live website)

Anyone can use it. Please invite friends and family. You can either send them the invite link above or create your own using the ‘recruit your friends and get a free £5 donation’ option. Make sure you ask them to specify the River Thames Boat Project as their cause! Here is a quick video of how it all works.

And please tell us what you think. Are you comfortable with this sort of fundraising? Have you come across better options ? Please email

(Reproduced from The Friends Spring Newsletter)

Update on Future Plans

There have been some exciting developments at the Boat Project in the past few months, in two main areas – boat development and fundraising.

The Board of Trustees has given formal approval for the construction of a new day boat, based on a high-level specification – in terms of build, accessibility and facilities.  We are now in the process of appointing a naval architect to develop the detailed specification that will be put out to tender. This is a discrete piece of work, but obviously the more detail at this stage, the more robust will be the tender document and the final estimates.  We will be inviting three yards to tender.

The decision to construct, as opposed to purchase/refit, was taken following an assessment of the benefits/drawbacks of each approach, and drawing on professional advice. As a disabled-access boat, we have very distinct requirements.

We also spent time considering whether to increase passenger capacity above our current numbers. Client feedback, together with the regulatory challenges of increasing the number of passengers we carry, led us to conclude that 12 (including up to six wheelchairs) is still the optimum number. Any more and the impact on client service – and costs – could be negative.

We are still crafting the plan and the message for a public fundraising campaign – as it’s not just about boat building – but our private fundraising is going well. Thanks to some very generous individual donations already received, and a further source of funds that we are in the process of finalising, we are in a great place and able to move forward quickly.  The behind-the-scenes support the Charity has received for this project has been more than we could ever have hoped for and we consider ourselves to be very fortunate indeed.

Louise Sibley, Chair of Trustees

(Reproduced from the RTBP Friends Spring Newsletter)

Miranda’s Anniversary

1st April was Miranda’s 25th anniversary with the River Thames Boat Project and all of her Chairs (except the late Martin Emerson), other Trustees and long term volunteers gathered on the boat to thank her for her enormous contribution to growing the Charity over the years.

One of the many comments on Miranda’s card read ‘Congratulations Miranda on the 25th anniversary of the time you started with RTBP and thank you for all you have done during your time with it.  You should be proud of what has been achieved.  It has proved a wonderful Charity with so much done for so many people.

Miranda and chairs Miranda's 25th

Cakes courtesy of Louise Sibley and Linda Varney!

Launch of Eco-Venturers!

On the 18th March 2015 the River Thames Boat Project launched its new sustainability programme with a special event on the Thames Venturer. The launch was attended by the Mayor of Kingston Cllr. Ken Smith who gave his full support for the new programme. ‘Eco Venturers’ is an exciting day of water, energy, waste, green design and technology workshops, based on Venturer, which challenge children to rethink their current lifestyles and inspire them to be the eco inventors of the future.

Gemma Hindi, Environmental Education Coordinator, said: “We are thrilled to be launching Eco Venturers! It is an innovative new programme offered to primary schools in addition to our popular education programme, School on the River. We are looking forward to delivering more workshops this year”.


Groups receive a free Education Pack with their booking, endorsed by Trevor Baylis, local inventor of the wind up radio. Feedback from the Eco Venturer pilot schools has been very positive, with teachers pledging to rebook the following year.  The Eco Venturers’ programme has been generously funded by the City Bridge Trust and Kingston Borough Council.

From the Wheelhouse

Crew refresher training started earlier than usual this year – necessitated by School on the River bookings and a very early first client trip on 29th March!  This year’s training was a ‘back to basics’, reinforcing knowledge and experience of evacuation, fire extinguishers and safety equipment. We mustn’t forget our knot know how too!

How lucky we are to have enjoyed such a warm and glorious spring – the opportunity was not missed to call upon our volunteers to help with the never-ending task of painting.  Thanks to the team that turned out Venturer is looking shipshape again. We have a few more tasks to complete including the installation of a new all-singing and -dancing VHF radio which will give us hands-free communication with the bow crew from the wheelhouse.

The new intake of volunteers have also been put through their paces on our new crew training day  – we wish them well as we look forward to another season of making memories for crew and clients alike.

Peter Oldham, Skipper