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Anyone who’s spent any time in London knows that January is “quiet time” – pubs and restaurants are quieter as people embark on dry January, detox diets are at the forefront of our minds and gym memberships soar. At TLC we use this time to give the boats a bit of, well, TLC!

The Edwardian is currently out of the water in dry dock at Denton Wharf in Gravesend – after a full hull inspection and paint job, she’ll be swiftly followed by the Elizabethan who apart from the usual standard inspections required by the marine industry authorities, is having her iconic funnels replaced.

This year, the exciting one for us is the Dixie Queen. Due to her size there aren’t any dry docks in London that can accommodate her and she will be heading up to Lowestoft in Suffolk. That in itself is no mean feat! More used to the calm waters of the River Thames the hatches are battened down, quite literally, the galley is fully cleared and anything that moves is secured. And then we wait for the perfect weather window.

After a 20 hour trip around the coastline, once we arrive in Lowestoft Harbour, we’re accommodated by Small and Co. who manage the dry dock facility there. Once she’s up on the blocks the hull will be fully inspected by our engineers, she’ll be painted, engines and propulsion units inspected and cleaned and finally the Marine Coastguard Agency will give their stamp of approval that she’s fit to go back to work. 

This year’s dry dock is more exciting than most as apart from an external renovation, this time she’ll be getting the Royal treatment she deserves inside as well, with a refurbishment of the upper deck. Following in the footsteps of the Elizabethan and Edwardian over the last few years, wood panelling has been removed, lighting throughout will be replaced and rewired, new carpets will be laid. The biggest change is the removal of her very retro DJ booth, which will be superseded by a sleek purpose built booth on the stage – where any entertainer worth their salt should be!

The changes will increase seating capacity from 226 to 320 guests at any one time and give us more freedom to accommodate conferences and theatre style presentations. At the moment, she looks a bit of a state but rest assured our team are hard at work to bring her up to the TLC standard and unveil her new look when she returns to us in March. 

The Erasmus is not to be forgotten in 2016 either. Whilst she won’t be going into dry dock, we’ll be doing some work on her onsite at Butlers Wharf Pier. In keeping with her relaxed, chilled out style a second sofa seating area will be added to the middle and we’ll be updating her upholstery and soft furnishings to match.

Watch this space for further updates and detailed of our relaunch event in the spring!