A group dedicated to the upholding of the memory of those who served in the Royal or Merchant Navies, and all those who supported them in the carrying out of this service.

Members of the GFL in a quiet moment at Dover

Why was the Grey Funnel Line formed?

Many years ago a number of enthusiasts for the Royal Navy came together to form the Grey Funnel line in response to the lack of any recognised groups devoted entirely to the portrayal of the Senior service. At the time there appeared only the occasional individual dressed in 'Square rig' and perhaps a few more wearing Officers Uniform, attending War Weekends. What there was however, and still is, is a large number of people dressed up as American sailors and an increasing number of German Kriegsmarine.

From this early nucleus grew the group as it now stands, sometimes with many members and at others only a few what some would call 'Die hards' but no matter how small in number always trying to portray the Navy, its traditions and to a certain extent its history through re-enactment, living History or displays, call it what you will.

Whatever the group does it always bears in mind the memory of all those who served the country during the wars of the last century and tries to uphold their values, be they men or women, and yes it is true that women played a large part of the success serving in the Women's Royal Naval Service and allowing men to man the fleet.

Although the majority of our displays centre around the Second World War we also have an interest in the Victorian period where the navy fought in the Crimean wars both on land and sea and the start of the South African wars and the uniform worn was standardised. Through the Edwardian period with the closing of the campaigns in South Africa and the Boxer rebellions and so into the Great war. In all these wars the Navy served not only aboard ships but took an active role on shore with the naval brigades and divisions.

Why the Grey Funnel Line?

The answer dates back to the time when Britain claimed the largest mercantile fleet in the world. To identify the company to which the ships belonged each painted their funnels in a distinctive fashion, this generally being the most prominent and easily seen part of the ship and so the company or owner could be recognised at a distance. Cunard for example had red funnels with a broad black band around the top.

Around the turn of the last century the Admiralty decided that naval ships would be painted grey overall including the funnels. It was from the combination of the two facts that led to the merchant mariners referring to the Royal Navy as the Grey Funnel Fleet. An old term that due to its connection to the navy led us to adopt it as the name for our own group.