QE2 In London 2013?

The recent press, mostly negative, about the future for Cunard’s famous liner QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 has largely overlooked the project known as QE2 London.

QE2 in London, artists impression
QE2 in London, artists impression

Recent correspondence with the Mayor of London’s office and other related UK sources illuminated a fully realized vision for QE2’s next era on the River Thames.

While much of the QE2 London bid remains unpublished, it is reported that the well developed and financed plan would bring the iconic ship to the center of London. Phase One would see the whole area of Carlsberg Wharf demolished replacing it with parking, a reception building and a walkway to the ship. Phase Two would include the construction of additional commercial visitor attraction buildings, and possibly incorporate the supersonic Concorde plane.

QE2 would be ballasted sufficiently to be sit on the tidal river bed and opened as a five star hotel with tours for the visiting public. Refurbishment would cover the installation of new mechanical and electrical systems with sympathetic upgrades to the cabins. Of the original passenger accommodation, it is intended to use the 330 first class cabins and 250 of the larger tourist cabins for the hotel.

Much of Five Deck would be refitted to allow the installation of a main reception facility and display areas for the museum component of the operation. The ship would have a substantial entertainment operation with evening shows and dinner dancing, along with convention and conference facilities.

A club membership would likely be offered to the business district of Canary Wharf, just a 10 minute ferry ride away and a designated QE2 ferry would transport guests from O2 area, Greenwich and Canary Wharf.

QE2 proposed new location opposite the O2 Arena
QE2 proposed new location opposite the O2 Arena

The proposed site for mooring the ship would place her beneath the Emirates Air Line cable car, (also known as the Thames Cable Car, operated by Transport for London), a cable car link spanning London’s River Thames (sponsorship from the airline Emirates) which opened in June 2012. The 1-kilometre (0.62 mile) gondola line crosses the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks.

The proposed location for QE2 on the north bank of the Thames places the ship between the massive O2 Area and ExCeL London (Exhibition Center London)  an exhibitions and international convention center in the London Borough of Newham, first opened in 2000, later acquired by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company with a Phase II being completed May 2010.

QE2 compared with London's tallest building, the 95-storey shard.
QE2 compared with London’s tallest building, the 95-storey shard.

With QE2 on the Thames, London would have a new landmark.

I asked Rob Lightbody, owner of the TheQE2Story.com for comment on the possibility of this new project: “QE2 is Britain’s last great liner and thoroughly deserves to be saved. She has to be in one of the world’s great cities to be busy enough to survive, and where better than London? The plan seems to be a win-win for Dubai, Cunard, London and QE2 fans, with no obvious downside. If the plan doesn’t go ahead, we’ll want to know why.”

Launched at the yard of John Brown in Clydebank, Scotland, in 1967, the QE2 sailed for Cunard Line until she was retired in 2008. Since then she has been kept in good order and moored at Port Rashid in Dubai while plans for her future were shuffled.

Interestingly, the final disposition of the ship may lie in the hands of her former owners, Cunard Line. The particular agreement between Cunard and her current owners, the Dubai state investment company Istithmar, appear to require Cunard Line to approve of the ship’s future use.


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