A brief history of ALPHA

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The ALPHA was built in Paris in 1982 as the REGINE for Bateaux Parisien for use on the Seine – 1 of 3 sister vessels – all of which operated on the Thames as Hydrospace Alpha,Beta & Gamma,  the Beta returned to Paris in 2002 and was replaced by Hydrospace Delta

Length: 102ft
Beam: 9.60m
Draft: 4.5ft
Passengers: 363 incl 4 crew (later changed to 300)
Speed: 10 Knots
Engine: 2x Volvo Penta Turbo Diesel
Reengined 2002 – 2 x Volvo TMD 103A
Rebuilt in 2016 from deck level – Cummins engines
Year Built: 1982
Operators:
Bateaux Parisien (1982-1994) as Regine
Catamaran Cruisers (1994-2007) as Hydrospace Alpha
City Cruises (2008) renamed City Alpha
Rebuilt at Denton (2016)

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As REGINE in Paris

In 1993 the vessel was brought over from Paris to London as part of a £2million investment in the fleet at Catamaran Cruisers,alterations were made including removing the glass enclosed stern and creating an open back deck area among other more mior changes.  The vessel was renamed and launched under the new name HYDROSPACE ALPHA.

The vessel boasted features including a sliding glass roof which gave passengers 360 degree views of London (and a sun tan in the summer) , the boat being popular with passengers and crews alike for being able to carry an audience of up to 363 passengers which a member of the crew would give a guided tour to between Westminster to Greenwich.     The video below shows a typical guide onboard the vessel.

           

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On route to Greenwich in 1994 (photo RJS)

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Approaching St Katherines Pier 1996

The vessel continued to operate with Catamaran Cruisers until the company ceased trading in September 2007.    Between this time other alterations were made to the vessel which included adding a ladder on the foredeck which allowed easier access to the glass roof for cleaning duties , in 2002 the vessel was re-engined with 2 x Volvo Penta 103A and in 2007 the spotlights along the side decks of both the Alpha & Gamma were removed mainly due to the fact that many were broken and no longer worked.

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Interior of the vessel in 2007 (photo Ian Boyle)

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Wheelhouse with tradional wooden wheel, twin screw controls and 2 cctv monitors showing the forward boarding gate due to restricted viability over the glass roof when mooring the vessel alongside a pier all vision was done by cctv to be able to see the crew on deck

In early 2008 City Cruises bought the Hydrospace Alpha , Gamma & Delta from Catamaran Cruisers.     The Hydrospace Alpha entered service in Feb 2008 however still in Catamaran Cruisers blue and yellow livery with just a city cruises sticker on the windows to show the new owner

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(photo Ian Boyle)

By May 2008 the Alpha had returned from drydock in a new smart red, white and blue waterline livery for City Cruises (pictured below)

In 2010 the vessels forward mounted liferafts were removed and additional orange carley floats mounted either side of the wheelhouse,  the glass panals either side of the wheelhouse were removed to allow for this

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In 2012 the vessel took part in the Queens Diamond Jubilee Pageant
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In 2013 after an incident in which the vessel hit a large swell causing the forward windows to break,   the vessel had its forward windows removed and the lower section replaced with steel and a smaller glass area above (pictured below) – the City Gamma also had the same modification made at a later date

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photo: RJS

In November 2015 the City Alpha was slipped at Denton and cut down to deck level to begin its rebuild , the propeller shafts and engines were also removed

Pictured below on May 6th 2016 during rebuild at Denton
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On 26th July 2016 the City Alpha was relaunched after her rebuild, on the 27th July 2016 she underwent engine trials and is due to have a stability test in the KG Dock later this week before entering service
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Further photos of the interior and the vessel in service will appear in the next update….

 

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