To be held from 4pm today on the River Thames, Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race is a London institution. The race originated in 1715, and sees up to six apprentice watermen (this year there are two – Alfie Anderson and George McCarthy – rowing the four mile, seven furlong course stretching from London Bridge upriver to Cadogan Pier in Chelsea (these days under 11 bridges) as they compete for the prize of a coat and badge (pictured above). The race came about thanks to Thomas Doggett, a Dublin-born actor and noted Whig, who founded it in honour of the accession of the House of Hanover – in the form of King George I – on 1st August, 1714. Doggett himself personally organised the race for the first few years before leaving provisions in his will for it to be continued. It’s been run almost every year since – there was apparently a break during World War II. While it was initially rowed against the tide, since 1873 competitors have had the luxury of rowing with it, meaning race times have dropped from what sometimes stretched to as long as two hours to between 25 and 30 minutes. This year, the event is being held as part of the Totally Thames festival which, among its packed programme of events, also features a series of exhibitions about the race – titled ‘The World’s Oldest Boat Race’, being held at various locations. PICTURES: From The World’s Oldest Boat Race exhibitions. Top – Doggett’s Coat and Badge (© Hydar Dewachi); Below – ‘Doggett’s Coat and Badge’, a coloured lithograph commissioned to mark the first publication of Guinness Book of World Records.

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Perhaps not so much a sign as a pub name, the strangely monikered Doggett’s Coat and Badge in South Bank is named after a rowing race – said to be the oldest continuous sporting event in the country – in which apprentice waterman traditionally competed for a prize consisting of waterman’s coat and badge and named after Irish-born actor and theatre manager, Thomas Doggett.

The race – which is held in July and runs over a course of four miles and seven furlongs from London Bridge to Chelsea (the starting and finishing points were originally both marked by pubs called The Swan) – was first held in 1715 when it was first organised by Doggett who financed it up until his death in 1721 after which he left instructions in its will for it to be carried on by The Fishmongers’ Company (which it still is today).

While there’s a nice story that Doggett, who managed the Drury Lane Theatre and later the Haymarket Theatre and carving out a name for himself as a ‘wit’, started the race as thanks to Thames watermen for rescuing him when he fell off a watercraft while crossing the Thames, Doggett – a committed Whig – actually started the race to commemorate the ascension of King George I – the first ruler of the House of Hanover – on 1st August, 1714, following the death of Queen Anne.

This year’s race winner was Merlin Dwan (London Rowing Club) who beat four others to finish in 24 minutes, 28 seconds.

The pub, one of the Nicholson franchise, is located in a multiple storey modern building complex and sits along the course of the race in South Bank. It features a range of bars including Thomas Doggett’s Bar and the Riverside Bar as well as a dining room and other function rooms.

For more on the pub, see www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/doggettscoatandbadgesouthbanklondon/. For more on the race (which we’ll be mentioning, along with more on Thomas Doggett, in more detail in upcoming posts), see www.DoggettsRace.org.uk.

On Saturday, the City of London paused for the 2010 Lord Mayor’s Show. We’ve captured some images from the event…

The crowd waiting patiently in Poultry, looking towards Mansion House, home of the Lord Mayor. The parade makes its way to the Royal Courts of Justice, stopping off at St Paul’s and then back via Victoria Embankment.


A Pearly King and Queen seek some advice from the local constabulary.


The parade opened with the Band of Grenadier Guards, formed in 1685 by Charles II.


Members of the Council of the Hamburger Morgensprache, successor to the medieval gathering of merchants of Hanseatic cities on the Baltic and North Sea coasts of which Hamburg was a leading member. Under a charter granted by Henry III, the merchants had their own enclave in the City of London.

Part of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office’s representation.


One of the many bands in the parade.

The Modern Livery Companies had walkers representing 21 livery companies, from Actuaries and Arbiters to Farmers, Solicitors, Tobacco Pipe Makers and World Traders. Other livery companies represented in the parade included the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers, the Worshipful Company of Paviors, and the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.


One of the many carriages transporting city officers. This one contains Sheriff Richard Sermon and his chaplain, Rev Michael Marshall, with two Doggett’s Coat and Badge men at the back.


Doggetts Coat and Badge Men – every year since 1715, apprentices from the Company of Watermen have contested a boat race on the Thames to win the coveted Doggett’s Coat and Badge.

Lord Mayor Michael Bear, the 683rd Lord Mayor of London, greets Londoners. The State Coach dates from 1757.


Pikemen, part of the Lord Mayor’s bodyguard for ceremonial occasions. The style of uniform dates from the reign of Charles I.


On the Thames, looking out from Waterloo Bridge. A fireworks display was held here from 5pm onwards.

~ www.lordmayorsshow.org