Out For A Duck!
written by Frank Brown
Five distinctive yellow ducks landed in London early 2000 for a unique sightseeing tour operation [pioneered in Boston] involving road and river. Actually USA General Motors built DUKWs [D = production year 1942, U = utility/amphibious, K = all wheel drive, W = twin rear axles] second world war roofless amphibious vehicles, built to carry military supplies from ship to shore over beach terrain. The GMC270 engine also powered a single rear propeller. Resembling boats on wheels these versatile little craft proved very successful with 21,147 built. The DUKWs [or ducks] were utilised for the D-Day landings as troop transport in 1944 and saw further use in the Korean War The British Army retained them well into the seventies, the advent of helicopters finally rendering the ducks surplus.
London Frog Tours commenced running late February 2000 from a base in Westminster Bridge Road with five extensively rebuilt DUKWs now fitted with roofs and seating for thirty. The journey/voyage starting from Waterloo [next to the then Millennium Wheel, now London Eye] passing popular London landmarks by road, before splashing into The Thames at Vauxhall for the river finale.
Todays operation is marketed as London Duck Tours with the five trusty `ducks' [named Beatrice, Cleopatra, Desdemona, Mistress Quickly, and Titania] performing a 7 day a week daylight service. At just over an hour the `experience' costs £17.50 Adult/£12 Child, advance booking is recommended. Next time you venture over Vauxhall, Lambeth or Westminster bridges, cast your eyes down to the water - you just might spot a little yellow duck!