Monday, 18 April 2011

Engraving of the week.


'Boat - Building.'  From 'Life on the Upper Thames' 1875.

There can't be many boats being built in the traditional manner on the Thames these days. In Victorian times there were literally hundreds of boat-builders on the river producing dozens of different craft ranging in size from dinghies, canoes,skiffs,gigs,randans and punts' through to launches and steamers.
All this variety and the associated hand crafted boat- building skills involved nearly disappeared but being the tradition loving and society forming nation that we are , all was not lost with the appearance of the first Thames Traditional Boat Rally in 1978. If you want to see literally hundreds of lovingly restored boats from yesteryear then the weekend of July 16th/17th at Henley on Thames is the place for you. Their website contains hundreds of photos of restored craft. Go to
For a short video clip by Julia Bradbury first seen on BBC's Country file concerning Peter Freebodys boat yard at Hurley where traditional craft are built and restored, go to -

Monday, 4 April 2011

Engraving of the week.

The Ferry024


'The Ferry'  from Life on The Upper Thames by H R Robinson 1875 

The ferry as an everyday feature of Thames life and worked as in the illustration was only found on the upper reaches of the river. The rope which had to be raised for large vessels passing would have been too inconvenient where traffic was heavier in the lower reaches. Other ferries were worked by punting or by a chain on the bed of the river which passed round the axle of a wheel on board the boat.

Tolls for horses varied from one to three old pennies and on some Thames Conservancy ferries were free for barge horses. Passengers paid one halfpenny and amazingly this fee had remained unchanged for over 300 years!

Of the once many ferries there are now only six in operation, all needless to say now motorised and somewhat larger than their forebears.