Monday, 22 April 2013
This colourful event was accidentally started by Prince Philip, twenty years ago. He was chatting to one of the Royal Watermen, a fine body of chaps who add style and class to royal functions by hanging around in 18th century costumes featuring hard caps and silk stockings. He asked one of them "Can you chaps actually row?"
ACTUALLY ROW? All the royal watermen are professional boatmen and many are winners of Doggett's Coat and Badge. So they decided to show him by rowing from Hampton Court to the Tower of London in a reproduction shallop, wearing all their fancy gear.
The main attraction was HM Rowbarge Gloriana, attended by a flotilla of Thames Waterman's Cutters with canopies sheltering dignatories in their gold chains and furs. Then came a bunch of other boats including Langstone Cutters' Bembridge and Sallyport, seen here on the trailer at 8.00 ready to go up to the smoke.
Also on parade was one of the Oxbridge Cutters (pictured top), a pair of replicas of the boats used in the 1829 Boat Race. It is very like a Solent galley but eight-oared, of course. There is a picture of the original here. The actual boat is now on display in the River and Rowing Museum at Henley.
Oh, and you can see more pics of the event on Cap'n JP's Log.