All aboard the River Princess at the Royal Docks

Newham’s first community boat was launched at the Royal Docks last week as a new venture to get residents on to the river and engaged with the waterways.

The boat – the River Princess – is the latest pilot project devised by Newham-based charity Gasworks Dock Partnership to get children out of the classroom and on to the water as an exciting extra-curricular activity.

The project hopes the boat, which holds up to 80 passengers, will become a self-sustaining service in the heart of Newham both as a commercial hire prospect and as a training vessel to provide voluntary and internship opportunities so young people can get real experience in boat handling.

The River Princess’s project manager Simon Myers said: “Despite the increasingly difficult times we seem to be living in and the understandable level of local cynicism surrounding words like “regeneration”, “legacy” and “big society”, I am convinced that the currently untapped potential within the Royal Docks, rivers Lea and Roding is about to unleash very exciting times for the people of Newham.”

The River Princess hopes to be part of a wider regeneration project in which the Royal Docks will see the launch of the multi-million pound Siemens Sustainability Pavillion, a heritage museum and historic ship, pleasure gardens and a floating swimming lido over the next 12 months, while the ExCeL Centre in Custom House plays host to 80 Olympic and 74 Paralympic medals as an official venue of the 2012 Games.