ROYAL BARGE SOLD ABROAD
 
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The  royal barge on which the Queen and Prince Philip sailed down the Thames in June’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant  has been sold abroad.

The Spirit of Chartwell, which received a million pound makeover for the event, has been sold to a buyer in Portugal where it will be used for tourist trips.

Its owner Philip Morrell said he had sold the vessel at a loss because he had been unable to reach agreement to sail along part of the Thames and had also lost a berth in Central London because of the Olympics.

He said: “I am sad she has gone but we faced difficulties which made it unviable to use on the River Thames. Without revealing figures the boat has been sold for half what I paid for her”.

The 64-metre long luxury river cruiser , owned by his Magna Carta Steamship Company, was given an ornate gilded bow and decked in red, gold and purple for her Royal role.

It was towed from Ramsgate, Kent, for the voyage to Portugal earlier this week. There she will become a cruise boat on the Douro River.

Mr Morrel said: “We were are very proud the Spirit of Chartwell was used for the Diamond Jubilee Pageant but disappointed it will no longer be on the River Thames.”

He said the plan was for the vessel to sail between Kent and Surrey offering luxury cruises up the Thames through Central London.

But he said he had been unable to reach agreement with the Port of London Authority for a stretch near Richmond.

He said: “They were concerned about the boat going under a bridge at Richmond. We were confident it was not a problem. They did not agree.

“In addition we lost the vessel’s berth in Central London because of the Olympics and that was the last straw. We decided it was not viable.”

He declined to discuss the loss of the London berth saying it was the subject of an ongoing dispute.

“The Spirit of Chartwell is a superb boat. The interior is just sumptious. It is a wonderful boat. But there are no other rivers in this country for which it is suitable.", he said.

The Port of London Authority said: "This vessel has been operating successfully on the tidal Thames in central London for a couple of years – and of course during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee river pageant.

“As with any new large vessel or operations on the river, discussions and trials were completed with the owner.  For this vessel, these took place in 2010 and demonstrated the vessel was too large to operate safely above Putney, where the river is narrower and more constrained.”

Story dated Sept 6th 2012

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