IN HER working life she graced many of the world’s greatest locations.
Now ministers are being urged to back a plan to put Southampton’s former great liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, in one of the most famous waters of all – the River Thames in London.
There she would become a floating hotel next to the O2 Arena, the Emirates Cable Car, the Excel Conference Centre and only minutes from Canary Wharf.
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The office of London Mayor Boris Johnson has been kept informed of the River Thames plan, the Daily Echo has learned.
Nearly 1,000 signatures have already been added to an official e-petition urging the Government to support the ambitious, multi-million pound scheme which would save the ship, now in Dubai, from the threat of being broken up and sold for scrap.
Hundreds of people have added their names following reports of negotiations underway between the ship’s Dubai owners and China, after the collapse of plans to turn the former liner into an international tourist attraction in the Middle East.
Former owner Cunard has cast doubt on the reports, but fans of the legendary liner fear for her future.
Ever since arriving in the Middle East, after leaving Southampton for the last time in November, 2008, QE2 has not moved, a victim of the global recession.
The “QE2 London” project calls for the ship to be brought to the UK, where she would be permanently moored at Carlsberg Wharf, opposite the O2 Arena, on the Thames.
It would be an enormously expensive operation, as it is unlikely QE2 would be able to make the voyage from Dubai to the Thames under her own power after such a long lay-up.
QE2 would be loaded up with enough ballast to sit on the tidal river bed and open as a five-star hotel with tours for the public.
Shipping expert Martin Cox, formerly from Chandler’s Ford but now based in the US where he runs the highly respected website, Maritime Matters, said: “Recent correspondence with the Mayor of London’s office and other related UK sources illuminated a fully realised vision for QE2’s next era on the River Thames.
“Phase One would see the whole area of Carlsberg Wharf demolished, replacing it with parking, a reception building and a walkway to the ship, while Phase Two would include the construction of additional commercial visitor attraction buildings, and possibly incorporate the supersonic Concorde plane.
“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.”
The petition says: “The most famous ship in the world is British. QE2 is the last liner built on the Clyde. She is a British icon.
“QE2 has been in warm store in Dubai for four years. Her future is now uncertain and she may be sold for scrap.
“There is a viable plan to return her to London: ‘QE2 London’. HM Government (Culture, Media and Sport) needs to support this project and consider fast-tracking relevant approvals.
“The proposal is commercial and would potentially attract significant extra tourism to London.”
- Log on to epetitions.direct.gov.uk to register support. If it gets 100,000 signatures it will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons.
January 10, 2013 - Since this story was first published, the petition on the link above has been taken down from the direct.gov.uk site.
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