Ghosts of Doggett’s Past

For historical reasons, Doggett’s is organised by the Fishmongers’ Company, not the Watermen. Since 1310, the piscine pedlars have had four Fishmongers’ Halls on the present site by London Bridge. The present one dates from 1834 but includes this stone from the third hall, built to replace the one lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

28 July 2017

Tim Koch has a final Doggett’s piece for this year.

The French expression plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same) applies to several events beloved of Hear The Boat Sing: The Oxford –  Cambridge Boat Race, Henley Royal Regatta, The Wingfield Sculls – and the Doggett’s Coat and Badge Wager. This is best illustrated in pictures, not words, so here is a selection of images from the 2017 Doggett’s compared with similar scenes from Wagers long past.

2017: Doggett’s Men as spectators. Picture: @ThamesRiverServ
1933: Doggett’s Men as spectators.
Umpire Prentice, 2017.
Umpire Phelps, 1928. Remarkably, Harry Thomas Phelps (1893 – 1973) was race umpire between 1927 and 1972.
Alfie Anderson approaches the finish, 2017.
David Thomas at the finish, 1939.
Jack Keech at Chelsea, 2017.
George Wright at Chelsea, 1869.
Ben Folkard, Doggett’s 2016.
Bill East, Doggett’s 1887.
Umpire Prentice with the “Daily Telegraph”’s Rachel Quarrell, 2017.
A man in an unidentified Coat and Badge with Umpire Phelps, 1928.
Jack Keech, the 303rd winner of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge, 2017.
John Obey, the first winner of the Doggett’s Coat and Badge, 1715.


I understand that the live feed of the race did not go so well, but there is a good 30-minute edit available to view ‘on demand’ on the official website, though I am not sure how long it will be available for. The commentary on the recording is well worth listening to as it is by Ken Dwan (Doggett’s 1971). He was Britain’s best single sculler in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He sculled at the European Championships in 1969 and 1971, at the World Championships in 1970, and at the Olympic Games in 1968 and 1972. At Henley in 1968, he reached the final of the Diamond Sculls. He won the Tideway Scullers Head 1969 – 1971 and again in 1973. Further, Ken won the Wingfield Sculls 1968 – 1972 and again in 1975.

Ken Dwan at the 2014 Doggett’s.

The Dwan family has the most living Doggett’s winners. Ken is the father of Nicholas (2002) and Robert (2004). His brother, John, won in 1977 as did John’s son, Merlin, in 2012. Ken’s mother and Jack Keech’s paternal grandmother were sisters. Thus, not only was Ken’s commentary well-informed, it also included much fascinating lore passed down by generations of Watermen past. HTBS approves.

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