Regent’s canal hosts alternative jubilee “flotilla”

The Regent’s Canal was awash with dozens of inflatable boats and hundreds of revellers in costumes yesterday (Saturday) for an alternative “flotilla” ahead of the Thames Pageant.

The event was called the Jubillegal and while most partygoers made their less-than-stately progress along the canal by rowing inflatable dinghies, other would-be sailors had got more creative with a blow-up mattress, a paddling pool, and a craft made out of inner tubes from tractor tyres among the procession from Union Wharf, near Shoreditch Park, to Broadway Market.

One of the damper participants was 28-year-old Chris Hind, who was simultaneously enjoying a bottle of cider and using a mop as an oar as he sat cross-legged on a giant cube of polystyrene.

“It took about four minutes to make my boat this morning,” the landscaper from Manor House said. “I have fallen in a bit, but only up to my waist – does that count?

“I’m not a royalist, so I’m here under false pretences really, but I heard about this event on Facebook and thought it sounded like fun.”


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At one point he drew cheers from the crowds who had gathered beside the canal to watch the flotilla, and a bystander called out to the struggling skipper: “That’s the Queen’s spirit right there, sir! A noble effort!”

The Jubillegal was planned by events organiser Animal Control, and was supported by summer dance music festival Glade, which blasted music from loudspeakers behind a tasteful giant papier-m�ch� Queen’s head attached to the front of a narrowboat.

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Charity worker Anna cooper, 29, of Albion Road, Stoke Newington, was taking part in the flotilla with friends.

She said: “Today’s been so much fun. People have made a lot of effort and everyone’s up for having a laugh.”

Most of the revellers were in costume, with several pirates, the odd corgie, and more than a few Queens.

Becky Smith-Williams, 24, an actress from Haringey, was wearing a satin bedcover as a gown and strings of pearls in her red hair.

“I’m supposed to be Queen Elizabeth I,” she said. “I hope my dress doesn’t get caught on a trolley in the canal – by dad said he was worried I was going to drown!”

The canal has rarely been busier and was so jammed with dinghies that a narrowboat containing a group of scouts on their half-term holiday accidentally got caught up in the procession.

The youngsters and their scout leaders from Hampshire looked baffled to find themselves suddenly surrounded.

“Welcome to Hackney,” a partygoer shouted cheerfully.

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