So busy has this item become that we’ve added an updates section. Click Here to go directly to it. And it’s also worth noting that the comments stretch back over two pages so look out for the ‘older comments’ button when you get to the end.
[Edit: this article has been superseded by a more up to date article here and another here.]

Previously, on twickerati…
Welcome to ‘Gloriana World’ at Twickenham! Don’t knock it, it could be coming soon to a river near you. The royal barge Gloriana ‘off of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee’ needs a home. The proposal coming from Lord True, sorry, we mean Richmond Council, is that a new, purpose-built boat house at Orleans Gardens could be just the ticket. And what’s more, we’re not just talking solely about a boat house, we’re talking about a visitors centre, new cafe and new play area too.

Gloriana at Twickenham in 2012
Gloriana at Twickenham in 2012

Here at twickerati HQ, we like to mix a bit of nimbyism with support for progress and change. It’s an odd mix. It sometimes works but it does also mean we get nervous when presented with grand solutions to problems that we didn’t know existed.

Gloriana is indeed a beautiful modern replica of a royal barge and needs a good home but of all the locations along the Thames, Orleans Gardens seems like a slightly unusual place for it – leafy, quiet, few other buildings around, off the beaten track by suburban London standards and accessible only by narrow roads. Perhaps that’s what makes it popular with locals. A visitors centre – the badge of honour of any new development – will teach people about the vessel and about boat building more generally. The scheme could become a tourist destination – maybe we can expect a road widening scheme to follow.

What’s not clear from the initial press release is the business model for the whole shebang. We enjoy looking for what’s not included in El Brute press releases just as much as we enjoy reading what is. Is Council (i.e. public) money funding the project, is it being funded through the charities and sponsors that operate Gloriana or will there be some corporate deal to make it all happen? In other words, who is this actually for and who’s paying? In more other words, will this prime riverside land – currently fully accessible to the general public – remain so?

The idea in the plans we’ve seen is to build right back to Riverside, across where the current playground and cafe are. A potential design for the boat house has been prepared by architects Foster & Partners so there’s clearly been a lot of groundwork done already. Meanwhile El Brute say the formal planning process will get underway soon and that residents will be given a change to express their views in July as part of that. We’ve heard that many locals are opposed to the plan, so much so that they’ve arranged a meeting at 6.30pm on 3rd July at the Turk’s Head in St Margarets to discuss it. However, assuming planning permission is granted (and we are talking about the Council, after all) construction could begin in autumn 2015 (note: original LBRuT press release said 2014 but this has been corrected). From that you might infer that this deal has already been done. Whether it has or it hasn’t, it’ll be interesting to see the plans and get the full story.

We can’t help but wonder whether anyone else’s plan for a new building at that location would get such a level of council support. Certainly the LBRuT press release contains some suitably gushing quotes from Lord True aka the Blue Baron:  “It’s, like, a royal boat house n shit innit?” is what he (almost) said.  Needless to say these words were tweaked by the killjoys in the press office to read: “I believe Richmond upon Thames is uniquely equipped to be the home of this remarkable piece of British craftsmanship, designed and built by our residents and honouring one of our greatest ever monarchs. I am delighted Richmond and Twickenham have been chosen”.

Boathouse goes here.
Boathouse goes here.

So, is this a project which gives up public space for something of limited relevance to most Twickenham folk and on which the word ‘legacy’ will be emblazoned above the boat house doors? Or, is this a great opportunity to give a new home to a unique boat in a way that celebrates our national heritage whilst improving an underused section of the riverside?

Dunno. But you do. Have a word in the comments below and take a second to vote in our poll.


Here’s the poll to have a quick vote. Be aware that these things are not very scientific but please, only vote once!

And here are some pics (thanks to Graham for sharing those) although we’ve since heard that these are out of date. We await the revised plans with great interest.
Gloriana Boathouse Plans
Gloriana Boathouse Plans
Gloriana Boathouse Plan, Twickenham


* 24th June: LBRuT have advised that the press release contained an error. The possible start date is autumn 2015 not 2014.

* 25th June: El Brute have just announced the following:
“Consultation will be available online from 5pm on Tuesday 1 July until Tuesday 29 July.
As part of this, drop in sessions are being held at Orleans House Gallery:
18th July (10am – 4pm) in the Octagon Room
19th / 20th July (10am – 4pm) in the Stables.”

* We heard that the plans we’ve shown above are not the plans that will be doing the rounds at Council. We’ve also heard (through idle tittle tattle of course) that the scheme will involve more work on the river frontage / pontoon thingy than indicated on the current (now superseded) plans. Wahey, maybe we’ll get a full blown marina??

* 26th June: We’d heard no comment on the idea from Twickenham’s local councillors, so we dropped six of them an email (Riverside & South Twickenham wards) to ask for their opinion. We received two replies but neither expressed any views on the concept – they just referred to the consultations. We’ll update this if we hear more.

* 26th June: A Facebook page has been set up opposing the plans

* 30th June: The story makes page 11 of The Guardian.

* 30th June: The Evening Standard jumps on the bandwagon… or should that be barge-wagon

* A big turnout is expected at the community meeting at The Turks Head at 6.30pm on 3rd July. Councillors may even be in attendance.

* The plan is going to Council Cabinet on 9th July, papers to be made public on 5th. Link to cabinet meeting page. This would seek to approve the plan to progress to planning.

* n.b. If you want to read back over the comments, these now stretch back over two pages. Click ‘older comments’ when you reach the end. In fact, we might do a new article soon to keep things nice and neat.

* EDIT: There is a more current item on this story here.

* El Brute press release (now with consultation dates)

* Richmond Council’s 9th July Cabinet Meeting page

* LBRuT consultations: online from 5.00pm on Tuesday 1 July until Tuesday 29 July. Drop in sessions are at Orleans House Gallery on 18th July (10am – 4pm) in the Octagon Room and 19th & 20th July (10am – 4pm) in the Stables.

* Concerned / interested residents community meeting at the Turks Head Pub / Winchester Hall, St Margarets on 3rd of July at 6.30pm

* Facebook page

* The Guardian article

* Evening Standard