London SE1 community website

Swedish ship Gotheborg visits Pool of London

London SE1 website team

The Pool of London echoed with cannon fire on Saturday as a replica 18th-century merchantman ship visited amid Thames-side Anglo-Swedish festivities.

Gotheborg fires its cannon
Gotheborg fires its cannon
Costumed crew member
Crew members climbed the rigging to release streamers
Kulmus Orchestra on HMS Belfast
Kulmus Orchestra perform on the deck of HMS Belfast
Streamers in the colours of the British and Swedis
Streamers in the colours of the British and Swedish flags

Gotheborg is the first ever replica East India merchant vessel to sail into London and is the only ship like it in the world.

Gotheborg returned to London 262 years after the original ship left for Sweden on a dramatic final voyage that saw The Ship wrecked just outside Gothenburg Harbour as a possible insurance scam.

Tower Bridge lifted to allow The Ship into the Upper Pool of London. Gotheborg fired its cannon in salute, with HMS Belfast's guns firing in return.

The merchantman turned round in front of London Bridge before the crew climbed the rigging to release streamers in the colours of the British and Swedish flags.

Gotheborg then returned downstream to West India Dock where it is open to the public until Thursday 31 May.

The ship will pay a final visit to the Pool of London on Saturday 2 June (Tower Bridge lifts at 3.15pm and 3.45pm) before setting off on the final leg of its voyage back to Sweden.

History of the ship

The original Gotheborg sank on 12 September 1745, on her way back from London, foundering on rocks outside the entrance to Gothenburg port. The ship had been at sea for two years and was supposed to be returning with cargo valued at more than Sweden's national budget when she sunk.

All the crew survived, picked up by the flotilla of small boats that sailed to greet the Gotheborg. Most of the cargo was never salvaged, but claimed on insurance. Swedish historians speculate The Ship was deliberately wrecked as an insurance fraud and believe the Captain and ship's owner sold the cargo in London.

Marine archaeological excavations of the wreck took place from 1986 to 1992. The findings and salvaged remnants of the ship, together with historical records and drawings, were used to guide her recreation.

Work on the replica began in 2002 using traditional materials and craftsmanship. She set sail on 2 October 2005 with an 80-strong crew on a voyage to China, following the traditional trade routes and acting as an ambassador of Swedish culture, trade and enterprise.

The SE1 website is supported by people like you
Related forum discussions
We are part of
Independent Community News Network
Email newsletter

For the latest local news and events direct to your inbox every Monday, you need our weekly email newsletter SE1 Direct.

News archive from February 1999 to January 2001
Got a story for us?
Contact us with your tip-offs and story ideas.