Guides | Centuries-Old Tradition | Woods' Silver Fleet


Doggett’s Coat and Badge

Add a twist of river style and tradition with a Doggett’s Coat & Badge Waterman to ‘Meet and Greet’ your guests. The Doggett’s Coat and Badge is the oldest and longest river race in the World, and is undertaken by apprentice Watermen to the River Thames.

The race was established after a famous Irish comedian named Thomas Doggett, who at the time was Manager of the Drury Lane Theatre, fell into The Thames whilst crossing the river at Embankment in 1715. Doggett was rescued by a Waterman, and as a mark of gratitude he set up the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race.  Each year the Doggett’s put up a ‘wager’ (an amount of money) to buy a traditional red coat and badge for the winner of the race.

The race begins at London Bridge and finishes at Albert Bridge in Chelsea, passing under a total of 11 bridges en route to the finish line. To win the Doggett’s was seen by others within the River Thames workforce as a great achievement. Therefore a perceived ranking system evolved as a common result of the Doggett’s Race, with the winner being seen as a better Waterman than those he defeated.

Today, the race is much more about carrying on a tradition, although winning is still seen as very prestigious amongst those within the industry and taking part.