Saturday 30th January 1965 – The State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill

Following the service at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, at approximately 12.40pm on 30th January 1965, the Port of London Authority launch the Havengore carried the chief mourners and the coffin of Sir Winston, draped in a Union Flag and bearing his honours and decorations on his last journey by water from Tower Pier to Festival Pier, a voyage of some twenty or so minutes. As the coffin was loaded aboard, sixty pipers drawn from different Scottish regiments played laments including the haunting ‘Flowers of the Forest’. As Havengore slipped her moorings and pulled out onto the flood tide, the Band of the Royal Marines played ‘Rule Britannia’ and a salute of nineteen guns was fired from the battery in front of the Tower of London. Seconds later sixteen Lightning fighter jets from RAF Wattisham flew overhead. Then and most movingly, led by the dock cranes on Hay’s Wharf, the jibs of all the dockside cranes were lowered in a silent tribute to Sir Winston by London’s dockers.

This event, one of the most visual moments in the history of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of Londoners, lining the bridges and both banks of the river. It was also televised live to a worldwide audience estimated at three hundred and fifty million (one in ten of the then world’s population).


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