Thames Police: Patrick Colquhoun Launches - WWII Veterans
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WWII Veterans by PC Bob Jeffries & PC John “Joz” Joslin (ret.)

The history of Thames River Police supervision launches which bear the name of the illustrious co-founder of the Thames River Police begins in 1947. At the end of WWII Britain’s armed forces had a number of vessels which were now surplus to requirements.

Thames Division was given permission to search for replacements for their ageing supervision launches. These were the three launches used by the divisional chief superintendent at Wapping and the two divisional inspectors who operated out of Waterloo Pier and Blackwall police stations. It was decided to purchase three launches from the RAF. The chosen launches had been originally designed as seaplane tenders carrying men and supplies to the Catalina/Sunderland seaplanes during the war. It is said that one of the team responsible for the design of these craft was a certain Aircraftsman Shaw who will be better remembered as T.E Lawrence or Lawrence of Arabia.

The three launches were all carvel built with wooden laminated hulls which, for the purpose of their new role as police launches were painted green as opposed to their former regulation grey. They were powered by twin Perkins diesel engines capable of speeds in the region of twenty knots. Previous supervision launches had been named Watch, Alert and Vigilant. However, after a period of some 70 years of Thames Division using these names it was decided that a change was called for. Wapping’s launch was named “John Harriott”. Blackwall’s launch was named “Sir Robert Peel” and Waterloo Pier’s launch was called “Patrick Colquhoun”. These three launches performed solid service and had a number of adventures on a busy and crowded river, which was reaching the peak of its commercial importance. On one memorable occasion Patrick Colquhoun even sank on its moorings at Waterloo Pier.

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