Doggetts Coat and Badge
The 360th Doggetts Coat and Badge race was run on the River Thames on Friday; our very own Greg Gregory-Jones is Chair of the Race Committee. This long established race is for members of the Company of Waterman and Lightermen under 26 years of age who have finished their apprenticeship with the Company. It was first held in 1715 and is 7,400m from London Bridge to Cadogan Pier, Chelsea. (The Boat Race is 620m shorter and 114 years younger). During the race the competitors row under 11 of the Capital's bridges.
The time taken to complete the course is between 25 to 30 minutes and in 1973 Bobby Prentice, now Bargemaster to the Fishmongers' Company and Upper Warden of the Company, set the fastest recorded time of 23 minute 22 seconds. This year the event was won by the 22 year old favourite James Berry in 25 minutes 21 seconds. James is a master captain with Thames Clippers. He comes from Canterbury, where he is a member of the King’s School Boat Club. He receives the ceremonial scarlet coat, an honour awarded to every winner in the race’s 300-year history, featuring a large silver badge on the arm, designed by Doggett himself and will be officially recognised at a Livery Dinner in Fishmonger's Hall in November.
As a sign of the importance attached to the race, the River Thames is closed for the duration of the race; it would be impossible to counter the turbulence generated by normal river traffic. Members of the Watermans' Company have a proud history of World Championships, Scullers Head, Henley and Olympic representation. At one time all working skippers, mates and boat crews on the Tidal Thames would have been trained by the Company which was founded in 1514. Annemarie Phelps CBE (of British rowing fame) is a Junior Warden.