Little Ship, Big History exhibition at National Waterways Museum Gloucester

Discover more about the museum boat's amazing past, including a royal connection, war-time bravery and a trailblazing 1930s businesswoman.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
Queen Boadicea II is once again decorated with shields from the places it spent its working life.

This summer National Waterways Museum Gloucester is celebrating the museum trip boat and Dunkirk Little Ship, Queen Boadicea II.

At this outdoor exhibition, you’ll explore the stories of two fascinating people who played a big part in the boat's history, discover an interesting royal connection and get a chance to have a go at recreating a big moment in its history with family craft activities.

Queen Boadicea II was built in 1936 as a passenger pleasure cruiser for Charlotte Smith. Known as the ‘Queen of the Thames’ Smith was said to be the only female owner of a passenger carrying vessel on the Thames. The outdoor exhibition tells her incredible story.

In 1940, Queen Boadicea II became one of the Second World War’s Dunkirk Little Ships taking part in the evacuation of troops from northern France.

You'll get to see medals and letters, donated by the family of Alan Spong, one of boat's crew on her rescue mission.

There's also a historic photo of the boat taken in 1953 at the Royal River Pageant to celebrate the Queen's Coronation.

Back then, the boat was adorned with the heraldic shields of 12 great Livery companies of the City of London. To reflect this royal connection today, Queen Boadicea II is once again decorated with shields from the places it spent its working life.


Little Ship, Big History Exhibition


Wednesday 31 May to Saturday 2 September 2023


10am to 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday


The exhibition is included in the museum entry fee. Tickets give unlimited return visits to the museum for 12 months and cost £8.50 for adults, children aged six to 15 cost £5, children under five are free. A family pass is £22 and concessions cost £7.50.


01452 915676

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