Great Britain wins battle of Trafalgar Square traffic

 Transporting a 30-metre racing yacht to Trafalgar Square is never going to be plain sailing, but EAF scored a 10 in the race to get the UK’s entrant for the Clipper Round the World race there in time for its naming ceremony.

The ceremony for ‘Great Britain’ went like clockwork outside the National Gallery on 31st July 2013, but only after the multi-million pound boat was transported by road from Saxon Wharf in Southampton. At 30 metres long and just under six metres wide, this was the largest yacht ever brought into central London by road.

The road delivery to Trafalgar Square was a prime opportunity to show the world the best of British manufacturing and specialist transport. Premier boat haulier Coast 2 Coast Marine Transport, based in Botley, was chosen to undertake the unique transport.

Cargos of this size do not automatically have a legal right to move by road, just because it’s technically feasible.

In support of David Cameron’s British branding

EAF, as logistics project manager, began by lobbying the Secretary of State’s office for Highways to present a safe and secure format for the transport.

EAF managing director Marc Wodehouse says, “We negotiated with more than 30 regional and local government offices, rail, Underground and transport authorities, police forces, and motorway contractors.

“There is a strict protocol to follow for dispensations for transports of this magnitude. Such was the importance of this transport, our negotiations went as far as No 10 Downing Street.”

In 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron launched the ‘Great Britain’ brand to promote British industries. The naming of the boat, and the location for the ceremony, were to support that cause.

With direct help from Ed Pikett, Public Relations Director at No 10 and Fiona Kennedy at Highways, EAF secured the VR1 dispensation. Next was the route survey.

Working to a tight schedule

Marc says, “We soon realised the only way into central London would be from the A13 and along the Embankment, passing Big Ben, down Parliament Street and into Whitehall. A London Bus at 12.5 metres long and 2.5 wide has a hard enough job on this route.

“There were major width & turning issues with street furniture at Big Ben, wrong siding the turn into Parliament street and closing off Pall Mall east outside the Canadian Embassy.”

Marc says the transport schedule was one of the tightest that EAF has had to undertake. The boat could not leave Southampton before 6am on the Tuesday yet it had to be outside the National Gallery by 1.30am the following morning.

“Transport for London and Westminster Council were a massive help,” says Marc. “We also sought permission from the Met Police for Land Rover to accompany and film the convoy en route.” The company is a major sponsor of the Clipper Round the World Race. The photos accompanying this article were taken by Nick Dimbleby.

The convoy had a six-police bike escort provided by the Metropolitan Police. “The bike team, headed up by Sergeant Barry Green, did a spectacular job,” says Marc.

London crawling

The last section of the transport from South Mimms services at the top of the M25 to Trafalgar took 3.5 hours. With major roadworks on the M25, Sergeant Green’s team and the motorway control room undertook a ‘controlled stop’ of the entire M25 carriageway for two junctions so that a mile of cones could be removed.

Russell Mitchell, Managing Director of Coast 2 Coast, says, “Without EAF’s superb effort to coordinate the nine inner London departments, including The Lord Mayor of London and No 10 Downing Street, the most prestigious and high profile boat ever delivered to inner London would not have happened. EAF has made Coast 2 Coast the pride of British boat moving.”

Marc says the transport was a milestone movement with amazing teamwork between the private sector and public services.

“We are extremely proud to have been a part of this fantastic project with Clipper, Coast 2 Coast, the Police, TfL and Westminster Council,” says Marc. “This is why we are ‘Great Britain’.”