See’s Doggett Race In 1899

Our story about John ‘Jack’ See, the winner of the Doggett Coat and Badge Race in 1899, continues: six watermen were competing in this race on 3 August: Henry William Gobbett of Poplar, Moses Lewis Thomas Gibson of Putney, John Thomas Phelps of Putney, Thomas Alfred Chapman of Bermondsay, Charles William Terry of Bermondsay, and John ‘Jack’ See of Hammersmith.

The day after the race, which was between London Bridge and the Old Swan at Chelsea, a distance of close to five miles, The Times published a short race report. In the article it says that Gobbett was best off at the start, but after 50 yards Phelps passed him, and at Blackfriars Bridge, he had a two-and-a-half lengths lead. Gobbett was second, four lengths in front of Gibson, and then Chapman, See, and Terry.

The Times’s correspondent writes: “See wisely kept over on the Surrey shore in smooth water, and by the time Westminster Bridge was reached he was nearly, if not quite, level with Phelps.” At Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridges, See was ahead, and at Nine Elms, Phelps spurted but, ”made little impression on the leader, who was rowing with good judgment.”

See won easily in 27 min. 34 sec. However, The Times writes, “After the race the executive, considering that one of the competitors had been coached, which is against the rules, would not decide upon the winner.” At a dinner held by the Fishmongers’ Company, See was pronounced the winner. Gibson was second, Phelps third, and then Chapman, Terry, and Gobbett.

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