An Australian man who is obsessed by everything British builds a new carriage, and gives it to the Queen as a gift. It's name: BRITANNIA. It is built from materials that the Anglophile has picked up from great cathedrals such as St Paul's and Canterbury as well as segments from King Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose and metal from a Battle of Waterloo musket ball......

Britannia, the time machine fit for a Queen

By Paul Eccleston
The Telegraph

One day it may carry the Prince of Wales to Westminster Abbey for his coronation, or Prince William to his wedding.

A gift from Australia: Britannia is the newest addition to the fleet of royal carriages

The newest addition to the fleet of royal carriages is being given the finishing touches in Australia before being flown to Britain as a gift to the Queen.

A time capsule containing elements from centuries of British history, the royal state coach Britannia has been designed and built as a labour of love by Jim Frecklington who learned his trade working in the Royal Mews.

A proud monarchist, he is probably the only man alive capable of building a royal carriage on such an epic scale.

He has lavished years of hard work and mortgaged his home in Sydney to help towards the estimated 620,000 building costs and the Australian government has also loaned financial assistance.

The project has the approval of Buckingham Palace and has been overseen by Prince Philip, a renowned carriage driver.

In 1986, to commemorate Australia's bicentenary two years later, Mr Frecklington, 57, designed and built the Australian State Coach which was a gift from Australia to Britain. The coach is used regularly by the Queen for the State Opening of Parliament.

Before that the last coach to be made was in 1902 for the coronation of King Edward VII.

Mr Frecklington's labours on Britannia included scouring the globe for the finest materials and the few remaining craftsmen and women with the requisite skills and knowledge to build a traditional state coach. It is unlikely that anything remotely like Britannia will be built again.

"I am travelling to London to pick up some historic pieces including material from a Lancaster bomber which once flew with the 617 Squadron -the Dambusters," he said.

"A 2in section will be inlaid into the door of the coach symbolising the RAF. We already have metal from a musket ball from Waterloo symbolising the Army and wood from the Victory, representing the Royal Navy."

There is also wood from the great cathedrals including St Paul's, Canterbury, Wells and York as well as segments from Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, the Mayflower, the Queen Mary and the former Royal Yacht Britannia.

Australian Mr Frecklington, a staunch monarchist and an big Anglophile, mortgaged his home to help towards the costs

The crystal for the coach's four magnificent lamps on the coach, each weighing 55lbs, was hand-blown and cut by Edinburgh Crystal. The two door handles, made by Mike Baker, a specialist jeweller in New Zealand, are individually decorated with 24 diamonds and 130 sapphires.

The coach weighs 2.75 tons and is more than 20ft long and 11ft high. And though Britannia might be a recreation of a long-past mode of transport it has the electric windows, hydraulic independent suspension and heating one would expect in any modern conveyance.

The interior is lined and upholstered with 22 yards of the finest silk brocade incorporating the heraldic representations of the four home nations - the rose (England), the flax (Ireland), the thistle (Scotland) and the leek (Wales).

The heraldic work on the doors and side panels was painted by Paula Church, a renowned botanical artist, who adapted her talents and spent six months learning to gild before she began work on Britannia.

On the roof is a carved and gilded imperial crown made by OH Boyd at his Lincolnshire studio. It is called the Victory Crown because it was carved from timbers from Nelson's flagship.

Also contained within the coach body is a segment of oak gear teeth made by John Harrison, the carpenter who in 1726 invented and made the world's first marine chronometer.

But Mr Frecklington is still searching. "I have nothing from one of the greatest Britons, Isambard Kingdom Brunel," he said. "I would dearly love to get just a tiny piece from his ship, the Great Eastern.

Similarly on my wish list is material from the Queen Elizabeth but it must all be authenticated, as the other pieces are."

One of Mr Frecklington's great Britons: British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, next to the launching chains of his shop "The Great Eastern" in 1857, the world's largest ship at the time

All that then remains is for the carriage to be carefully transported from the workshop close to Sydney harbour to the Royal Mews in London.

A little late but she will be a gift to mark the Queen's 80th birthday in 2006.

Jim Frecklington can be contacted at royalchariot2005@yahoo.com.au

In pictures - The Royal State Coach Britannia

The royal state coach Britannia has been a labour of love for Australian carriage builder Jim Frecklington

Mr Frecklington has spent years designing and building the coach, and even mortgaged his home to help towards the costs

The crystal for the four magnificent lamps on the coach, each weighing 25 kilos, was hand-blown and cut by Edinburgh Crystal

The interior of the coach is lined and upholstered with 20m of the finest silk brocade

The coach, a late 80th birthday gift for the Queen, weighs 2.75 tons and is more than 20ft long and 11ft high

Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 30th, 2007 at 02:29 PM..