Tim Koch writes:
Today, Saturday, 1 August, the Doggett’s Coat and Badge will be celebrating its 300th year with its 301st race. As stated on my last post yesterday, for the first time Doggett’s can be viewed on a live video stream via http://www.doggettsrace.org.uk The race starts at 11.30 a.m. BST / 05.30 a.m. CDT / 08.00 p.m. ACST. If you enjoy the film, you may want to buy the book – or even ‘books’.
The Company of Watermen and Lightermen have published Unto The Tideway Born: 500 Years of Watermen and Lightermen by Chris Dodd. It was commissioned in commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of King Henry VlIl giving Royal Assent to the 1514 Act of Parliament for regulating watermen, wherrymen and bargemen. I have not yet read the book but I am sure that a sizeable section will be devoted to Doggett’s. Chris will need no introduction to HTBS readers, but for those who have not been paying attention and for those who want to know what his next project is, this is what the publisher’s notes on ‘Unto’ say:
The author Christopher Dodd is a freeman of the Company who spent thirty years on the editorial staff of the Guardian before setting up the River and Rowing Museum in 1994, where he is now consultant historian and vice-president. His previous books include histories of Henley Royal Regatta, the Boat Race, World Rowing and London Rowing Club, and his most recent are Pieces of Eight, the story of the revival of British international rowing in the 1970s, and Bonnie Brave Boat Rowers on champions of the Tyne and the music halls that celebrated their prowess. Dodd is currently at work on a historical novel about the new technology of the 1860s and how it gave birth to war reporters and foreign correspondents. He continues to write about rowing for newspapers, magazines and blogs.
Robert Cottrell runs Trueflare Genealogy, ‘the genealogy web site specialising in River Thames watermen and lightermen and Thames & Medway riverside parishes’, so he should be well qualified to write and publish Doggett’s Coat and Badge: 300 Years of History. Again, I have not seen a copy but Robert seems to have gone back to original sources as he claims that ‘there have been numerous mistakes over the years concerning the race and its history, even (to) the colour of the coat…….. Various names of past winners…… have been not been recorded correctly, or in some cases, not recorded at all’.
Seemingly part historian and part investigative journalist, Robert writes that his book will:
Not only (give) you every known competitors name for Doggett’s Coat and Badge, even those who lost out in the drawing of lots or trial heats; this book….. will give an account of virtually every race between 1715-2015, including heats and re-rows. In addition, it will give you an accurate list of Doggett winners and known finalists…… Was the first race in 1715 or 1716, the evidence is placed before you, and you can decide for yourself? Was Doggett caught up in the biggest financial scandal this country has ever known……? The names recorded in Doggett’s will – Edward Burt, Thomas Reynolds and Sir George Markham, is there a connection, and what part did they play in Doggett’s gift, ‘the Coat and Badge’………?
It’s not quite in the same league as Chris’s and Robert’s books but I have an article on Doggett’s in its 300th year in the latest edition (number 6) of the excellent Row 360 magazine. This bi-monthly glossy and informed international rowing magazine is obtainable by subscription, and is £24.99 / $35.99 a year for the digital edition or £45 / $70 a year for a print plus digital sub.
I suppose that any ‘list’ of Doggett’s books should include a slightly older work. In the words of HTBS editor Göran Buckhorn:
In 1908, the well-known rowing authorities Theodore Andrea Cook and Guy Nickalls published Thomas Doggett Deceased – A Famous Comedian, which not only tells the story about Doggett, but also gives a good insight in the London theatre world during the late 1600s and the beginning of 1700s.
Cook wrote “Part I: The Man” with chapters such as “The Fame of Actors”, “Drury Lane” and “Off the Stage” while Nickalls wrote “Part II: The Race” with chapters titled “Thames Watermen”, “History of Doggett’s Race” and “Accounts of the Best Races”. While clearly dated, Guy’s part especially is still quite readable and useful and is as good a starting point as any for those interested in knowing more about Doggett’s. I would not, however, use it as a reference without checking other sources, I suspect that it is a little unreliable. A minor, though annoying, example of this is the book’s constant reference to the ‘wild’ horse, the symbol of the House of Hannover. At some stage someone has misread ‘white’ for ‘wild’ and no one picked up on it. Possibly, you edited the crusty Guy Nickalls at your peril.
Finally, there is The Coat, a novel written by Bob Crouch, who should be well qualified to write knowledgeably about Doggett’s. A third generation Thames Waterman, he won the race in 1958 and was later made a Queen’s Waterman, eventually becoming the Royal Bargemaster.
Bob’s publisher says:
The Coat, although written as a novel, is based on stories passed down through generations of the river Thames fraternity, stories which chronicle the origin of Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager….. The book also tells of the brutality and dangerous times of the early eighteenth century; of how the watermen of that time were harshly controlled by the rules of their Guild, how they dealt with the cruel winters when the river was frozen over, of the hard lifestyle they endured, and of their greatest fear of being press-ganged into the Royal Navy. It is told through the eyes of Edwin; the young wherryman on whom Doggett is reputed to have based the rules of his race.
If you do not like reading but do like looking at pictures – here are two wonderful images:
Did Mr. Campbell or Mr Fogo ever write a book? Sadly, probably not.