Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral marked 50 years on


Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral marked 50 years on

BBC News, 30 January 2015

The boat that carried Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin along the Thames in 1965 has made the same journey to mark the 50th anniversary of his funeral.

Members of the Churchill family were aboard the Havengore, which travelled to Westminster in central London.

Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron laid a wreath in memory of Churchill, who, as prime minister, led Britain to victory in World War Two.

An evening service was held at Westminster Abbey.

“If there is one aspect of this man I admire more than any other – it is Churchill the patriot,” he said.

Mr Cameron said the UK needed to draw on the “courage and resolve” of Churchill to battle “every affront to freedom in this century”.

A procession from the service at Parliament’s St Mary’s Undercroft chapel ended under what has become known as Churchill Arch.

It was rebuilt at his suggestion following a direct hit from a German bomb in May 1941.

Sir Nicholas Soames, Nathania Ewruje, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Prime Minister David Cameron, Baroness D'Souza and Speaker of the Commons John Bercow during a memorial service for Sir Winston Churchill in Westminster Hall, London
Wreaths were laid at the statue of Churchill in the Members’ Lobby of the Commons
The Havengore on the Thames
The Havengore travelled from the Tower of London to Westminster, as in 1965

Tower Bridge was raised as the Havengore retraced its 1965 journey from the Tower of London to Westminster.

The boat then stopped near the Palace of Westminster for a service to be held and for wreath laying in the river.

At the Westminster Abbey service, flowers were laid at the green marble stone memorial to Churchill.

Sir Nicholas Soames said the Westminster events were a “fitting tribute” to his grandfather and a “strong reminder of all he did for his country”.

Emma Soames, Churchill’s granddaughter, added: “To me growing up he was a grandfather, but I came to realise at his death that he was so much more than that.

Randolph Churchill and Celia Sandys, the great-grandson and granddaughter of former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, lay a wreath at his statue on Parliament Square
Churchill’s great-grandson and granddaughter laid a wreath at his statue in Parliament Square

“The family are absolutely delighted that his life is being celebrated and his legacy expanded.”

Randolph Churchill said it was a “proud day” and his great-grandfather would have been “surprised but thrilled” at the commemorations.

Along with Celia Sandys, Churchill’s granddaughter, he laid a wreath at his statue in Parliament Square.

‘Very quiet’

Thousands of people lined the streets of London for Churchill’s funeral procession in 1965.

Journalist Martin Bell, who worked for the BBC as a junior reporter at the funeral, recalled speaking to mourners.

He said: “What I remember is most of all… the sheer size of them, 10-12 deep all along the way.

“Very quiet, very dignified, almost devotional. It would be hard to imagine anybody now, however eminent, drawing that kind of crowd to his funeral.

“It was unprecedented… the entire nation was watching.”

Winston Churchill making a speech
Churchill led Britain to victory in World War Two
The Havengore carrying Sir Winston Churchill's coffin along the Thames
The Havengore has retraced the journey it made in 1965
Crowds lining a London street as the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill passes along
Thousands of people lined the streets of London for Churchill’s funeral procession

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Sir Winston Churchill displays a v sign to crowd
  • 1874 – Born in Blenheim Palace on 30 November
  • 1900 – Elected to Parliament for the first time
  • 1908 – Marries Clementine Hozier in Westminster
  • 1915 – Forced to resign from the Cabinet in disgrace after disastrous World War One Gallipoli campaign
  • 1940 – Appointed prime minister with Britain again at war with Germany in World War Two
  • 1945 – Loses the General Election to Clement Attlee’s Labour Party despite leading the nation to victory in the war
  • 1951 – Returns to Downing Street again as prime minister after securing a narrow majority
  • 1955 – Retires as prime minister due to ill health
  • 1965 – Dies aged 90

From Friday, the National Railway Museum in York will display the locomotive – named Winston Churchill – that pulled his funeral train from London to Oxfordshire before his burial.

Churchill began his career in the Army and he also worked as a journalist during the Boer War in South Africa, where he was captured and made a prisoner-of-war but managed to escape.

He served as First Lord of the Admiralty and held various senior government roles before taking over from Neville Chamberlain as prime minister in May 1940, and leading the country to eventual victory over Nazi Germany.

He resigned in 1955, but remained an MP until shortly before his death. He also wrote numerous books, and in 1953 won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Churchill’s grave is in Bladon churchyard, near his birthplace of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Churchill's coffin in a procession passing through Trafalgar Square
Churchill was given a state funeral
People standing on roofs to see Churchill's funeral
Crowded streets forced people to use every vantage point to see the funeral procession
Churchill's coffin being loaded on to a train at Waterloo station
Churchill’s coffin was loaded on to a train at Waterloo station
Pullman carriage which carried the family members of Winston Churchill to his funeral goes on display at the National Railway Museum, York,
The Pullman carriage used at the funeral is going on display at the National Railway Museum

Source:  “Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral marked 50 years on”, BBC News, 30 January 2015


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