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London Wherryman

London Wherry

 

London Wherryman

 

A wherry is a light rowboat that is used for racing or for transporting goods and passengers in inland waters and harbours. In 1555 an Act of Parliament set up the Company of Watermen and Lightermen to control the watermen on the River Thames who were responsible for the transportation of goods and passengers. Today Watermen and Lightermen are still licensed by the Company, with Freemen of the Company eligible to participate in the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race. Winners of the race have the honour of wearing the Scarlet coat, breeches and silver arm badge based on the original costume of 18th Century Watermen.

 

This romantic tale was sung by Bob Roberts and was probably picked up from either his mother, from who he learned many of his songs, or other bargemen he worked alongside. Born in the village of Hampreston in Dorset in 1907 he went to sea at 15 and worked for many years on sea-going sailing barges, regularly carrying cargo back and forth along the Thames. He skippered the last sailing barge in commercial use – The Cambria – which picked up cement from Everard’s Wharf at Greenhithe.

 

 

This song was part of Singing Histories, a national project led by Sing London to create booklets and resources containing traditional folk songs and history from eight areas across England.

The Singing Histories - London illustrated song book (which includes this song) can be downloaded from the document tab at the top of this panel.  Audio recording(s) of this song are also available from the audio tab.

 

More videos

  • London Wherryman: sung by Sam Lee

    Download: mp3(4.13MB) ogg(3.71MB)

Digital Archive records related to this item

Note that these links take you to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website which holds the full archival details of the material. Material on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website is not censored or expurgated and may contain material considered offensive by modern standards.

Maps on the Full English site related to this item

Note that these links take you to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website which holds the full archival details of the material. Material on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website is not censored or expurgated and may contain material considered offensive by modern standards.