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TALES OF THE THAMES

A place to share your tales & stories from the working river

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Comment 1 to 39 of 39
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Brian Murray   [Jul 13, 2011 at 09:15 AM]
I am surprised that "Charlie Brwn's" outside of West India Dock,Main Gate,was'nt mentioned.
Corrimeala   [Feb 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM]
For all you romantics, listen to this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uiAru92puk You may have to cut an past it into your browser
jamiespinks   [Jan 03, 2011 at 12:50 PM]
I remember as an apprentice working for GM '' my first company i worked for '' and me and Peter Duggan did a fire works display . All the rockets were layed on the Mercator barge and off we went up to kings reach on the revenge .It was my first fire works display job so i wasnt sure what to expect . I shut the engine hatches up and forward and aft cabin doors .As i cowered like and idiot in the wheel house , Peter Duggan said to me , Dont worry son we be ok providing a fire work dosnt crash through to the engine room . If it does you wont no anything about it .My responce unrepeatable on here . Very Happy
Corrimeala   [Jan 03, 2011 at 08:55 AM]
I was amused to see the Fireworks on the Thames for New Years Eve. I had the misfortune of having to work 2 New Years Eve as an apprentice back in the late 50's and early 60's. The only celebrations were the vessels sounding their whistles and an older hand saying "that's it then lad, were on a long night". I do remember some of the Scandinavian ships having a Christmas tree tied to the foremast. Times have certainly changed.
Les woodward   [Nov 21, 2010 at 05:51 PM]
all lightermen will be sad to hear the recent death of sid staden from the old watermens ,lightermens tugmens and bargemens union &then with transport &general workers union ,sid was 87
Les woodward   [Nov 18, 2010 at 09:56 AM]
characters on the river do you remember ginger smith for ltd most lighterman paid the fare from grays when alighting at tilbury ginger offered the collector a polo mint saying here you are george, with the reply im not george , ginger said there is a george on every station
Buzz   [Jul 10, 2010 at 10:36 AM]
The Ferndale was before the Galleons, then the Roundhouse, how could you forget the Royal Oak where the 'Sailor Boys ' also frequented ,the Standard was opposite the police station,then further on was the Kent, the California, the Graving Dock Tavern. the Jubilee opposite Lyles' the Ram under the viaduct, the Tidal Basin Tavern at the top of the Vic'. Outside the West gates was the Blue Posts by the West lock was the Gun, the other side of the lock was the Queens. Don't forget the Bloodhouse (Still and Star) my favourite and the Tiger.
Corrimeala   [Jul 08, 2010 at 12:17 PM]
The Prospect was a yuppie pub. Another favourite was the Town of Ramsgate. Then my ancient memory fails me, please add your favourites and their characters to the list!!! Laughing
Corrimeala   [Jul 08, 2010 at 12:09 PM]
So, for all you real old hands. I'm trying to put together a "Connoisseurs" tour of lighterman's pubs of the Thames. Stating at the Galleons in the Albert Dock basin and working your way up the north shore then down the south shore (I know overseas but...) you are not allowed to mention pubs like the Spotted Dog at Barking, even though it was always well frequented as it wasn't strictly a Thameside pub. So I guess you would go the Galleons in the Albert Dock Basin, the Pavilion at North Woolwich, - cant remember the pub opposite Silvertown Station, help please. The Iron Bridge at Canning Town (strippers for Sunday Lunch). Daniel Farson's pub The Waterman on the Isle of Dogs, what was the pub outside the gates of the West India Dock? There was one just around the corner from the pool (where we had to bonk on, not the upper of lower pool). There was the Tiger up from Tower Hill (went there when I came back to London in 1996 it was horrible). I have ignored the Prospect of Whitby.
ALEXKING   [Jun 20, 2010 at 04:23 PM]
Mat re your interest the insulated barges, there the plans for one in the book The Fires Of London by K E Keenan ISBN 0952446618 I could try and upload a copy if you are interested Wink
mick white   [Jun 11, 2010 at 07:22 AM]
I will ask my Dad next time I am in London probably in August when they celebrate their diamond anniversary
Corrimeala   [Jun 11, 2010 at 07:22 AM]
I think they were insulated with asbestos. Someone else had some too. Could it have been Union? The hatches on those were filled with cork and weighed a bloody ton. Make a mistake putting them on and they were down the hold and getting them up again was a nightmare.
Mat   [Jun 10, 2010 at 10:31 AM]
Any photos please mick?
mick white   [Jun 10, 2010 at 09:24 AM]
I remember them well. My dad just called them "Fridge Barges" I think we owned the only fleet of them on the Thames at the time. Never got any cheap New Zealand lamb though !! Laughing Laughing
Corrimeala   [Jun 10, 2010 at 12:33 AM]
Are you talking about the insultated barges used by Borthwicks for carrying meat?
Mat   [Jun 09, 2010 at 12:09 AM]
I am hoping to find an image of an insulated barge or a dumb lighter, to use its correct name, from the first part of last century. They were distinguished from the normal lighters in the fact that they were painted white or had their decks and rails painted white. Lloyd’s Register was tasked with inspecting these on behalf of the PLA. Can anyone help?
ALEXKING   [Jan 08, 2010 at 01:17 PM]
I enjoy reading the stories of the characters who worked on the river. I think you would have to expand the web site to accomedate what must be out there. Come on lads more input please. I remember Tom Slattery, we were invited to a party given by one of Mercs skippers and he was attacked by their dog. Tom picked the dog up and bit it back, the skipper said the dog was never the same. Alex King
alanjennings366   [Nov 09, 2009 at 07:06 PM]
No one could tell a tale like Bill Lewis you could listen to his stories of his exploits back in the 40s/50s. Bill on his own admission had several brushes with the bill and he would have us in fits, also when he was listening to someone else telling a tale he stood there in his old black crombie overcoat nodding and saying cor, cor: so John Henry gave him the nickname Blackcrow.
Corrimeala   [Aug 15, 2009 at 10:40 AM]
Wonder what happened to Keith Ledger? He gave me the nickname Muldoon!
Corrimeala   [Aug 15, 2009 at 10:38 AM]
If Eddie is on site he owes me. He got smashed one lunch time. We both went into Geroge's around 2.30 pm (opposite Tates) and he threw, up then calmy stood up and walked out. I got the mop and bucket and cleaned up for the sod. He did the same thing in the East and West (the chinese restaurant). Flo was after his guts.
Buzz   [Aug 15, 2009 at 09:36 AM]
I heard John moved to Cornwall (I didn't like him, too tall and goodlooking) I was unnattached in '63 too until '67. Anyway it's worth a try Eddie may have been on site under an alias, I remember him originally from Battersea, I know his mum was there, she had a jewellers shop I think?? Eddie was at Beaumont pre '66 cup final we were chucking round for Regent's canal, the day the cup was stolen we were talking about it, Mark was there. Strange the silly things you remember. Thanks Mike.
Corrimeala   [Aug 15, 2009 at 12:21 AM]
Eddie Pring worked for Silvertown Services back in 1959-1960, I don't remember what happened to him after that. Johnny Ledger and his cousin Keith worked for Silvertown from 1958 until at least 1965. We were all boys there together. I worked for Wrightson as an unattached hand for 9 monhts in 1963 and Johnny was still at Silvertown then. If he worked for Wightson it must have been after 1966. I worked with both of them quite a bit as we were all around the same age. I guess these would be the same people. At that time Eddy lived at Hackney and Johnny and Keith lived at South Woolwich / Charlton.
Ulco   [Aug 14, 2009 at 01:46 PM]
Hello Buzz Could I borrow the tape from you, I can collect it any time, Dave Byford
Buzz   [Aug 14, 2009 at 10:50 AM]
I have a couple of videos with Bill Shoult when he was Swan Upping I'll gladly loan them, also I have a video with Bill pope giving a shout at the Tower, I got the last picture from it but the video blurs now when paused.
Buzz   [Aug 14, 2009 at 08:33 AM]
To the 'rinklie hands out there, does anyone know where Eddie Pring now lives. Eddie worked for Beaumont and Wrightson his mate at Beaumont was Johnny Ledger, Mark Kitchener and Alan Carlaw were both boys there at the time. I am playing around with my family tree and have found a connection, Eddie may open a door to a different direction as well as my own.
Ulco   [Jul 10, 2009 at 02:31 PM]
Has anyone got a photo of Bill Sholte when he was Swan Upping, I know his Grand nephew and he would like to know about him. Thanks Dave.
Longreach   [Jul 10, 2009 at 09:51 AM]
Very sad news, could the picture of Bill be posted again? It showed Bill when he was young and in his prime, the way I would like to remember him.
Skipper   [Jul 10, 2009 at 09:47 AM]
Bill Pope was a great Skipper & a great person. Another sad loss.
Corrimeala   [Jul 10, 2009 at 07:37 AM]
AlanB thanks for that link. That brought back some memories!
Buzz   [Jul 09, 2009 at 04:55 PM]
To all the older Pleasure boys sadly Billy Pope died last night in Southend Hospital.
AlanB   [Jun 23, 2009 at 03:51 PM]
Hello all. I hope I'm ok putting this on this thread. I've had a look on Ships Nostalgia and there's some film on there re London Docks. It looks like it was filmed in the 50s/60s. I hope you find it interesting. Alan
Corrimeala   [May 27, 2009 at 07:51 AM]
I've started collecting memories from when I worked on the River and "tales my father told me" (sounds like the title of a book!). At this stage it's just a collection of memories of a river and trade that no longer exists but one that I was proud to be a part of. If anyone out there feels they wpuld like to contribute I would really like to hear from them. Who knows there may be a book in it. I'm spurred on by my cousin who has just finished a family history. With a direct descent - father to son back to around 1830 there are some great tales there I can include. I would prefer though to get many people giver me stories so that it can be a complete picture of a time seen through many eyes. My email address is whites@themedia.com.au
ex lighterman   [May 13, 2009 at 09:11 PM]
i started work for union at folly house,one of the other boys was the late great gerry roberts.we spent our day helping the bosun,earnie leeks grandfather and skylarking about it was great fun but then came the dreaded day when iwas told to report to folly house with my bag packed as i was going to be boy on the old ditto .off we went with me standing about like a lost whatsit the skipper was charlie squires and the mate was alf horn the two most miserable old gits you could ever meet well alf horn is telling me i had to coil up lines scrub out the cabins and clean the brass and make tea,as we neared tower bridge he told me to lower the mast and pull the funnel down as we went under london bridge what he did not tell me was to let it up again now the old ditto had an open wheel house.i tied down the funnel and stood back next thing there were clouds of smoke charlie squires is shouting and cursing me and down in the engine room the engineer and the fire man were screaming and shouting i had blinded the skipper and caused a blow back in the engine room and that was my first day all the best dave ball
Ben(admin)   [May 08, 2009 at 02:37 AM]
We worked round a ship in the Albert Dock when I was at Mercantile - it was very obvious that the We did not include Barney. I remember he had a brand new pair of those red rubber gloves, I said to one of the other hands 'blimey, I don't know what he's got those for" and the other hand said "he's had them for 5 years and he's yet to put his hands in them". Mind you we didn't actually say anything to him.
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Ben(admin)   [May 08, 2009 at 02:36 AM]
you do realise that what you are forming here is possibly the greatest archive of a working river, the Hall should be taking note of this as i doubt they have anything but the official records. well done to ben for having the insight to start this website. As tradesmen we owe it to ourselves and the people to follow, the fact we were watermen and lightermen long before any civil servant dreamed of the boatmasters license!! watermens hall was built on money earned by the lighterage companies and in turn from the men who worked for them, be they poking craft down the cut or towing up from the haven on stormy nights. well done all of you for taking time to post stories. you are making history. if every man told one tale we would have a tome thick as the book with all our names in up the hall
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Ben(admin)   [May 08, 2009 at 02:34 AM]
There must be a lot of tales about characters - the lighterage industry was full of them! One of them was Freddie (the fly) Fry who I think worked for Limited. He was the first fitness freak I ever met, though they are ten a penny now. He used to ride a bike everywhere, I'm not sure where he lived but there were big distances involved. I remember him climbing up the side of a ship on a rope (there was a perfectly good rope ladder but that was too easy). Another time I saw him go up the pier hear outside the Greenland Lock. This was in the days when no one did any more exercise than they had to. I wonder what happened to him?
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Ben(admin)   [May 08, 2009 at 02:30 AM]
Gerry made a boring trip to the Haven a joy, his tales and Jokes are legendary, and everything that is said about him is true. We held our own wake for him and stood up and toasted on the day of his funeral. We were in Southend but our thoughts and respects were with Gerry
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Ben(admin)   [May 08, 2009 at 02:30 AM]
I can only say if Gerry Roberts Union Lighterage, had still been alive, you would need more space than this web site to hear his stories, God Bless him.
Great Site, keep up the good work
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Ben(admin)   [May 08, 2009 at 02:27 AM]
How about lunch on Tower Hill in the summer. Walk up from London Dock or Wapping to see all the loonies on their soap boxes and the office girls in their summer dresses. Funiest thing was when one of the escape artist invited somone from the crowd to tie him up. Two of Charrington's hands stepped forward and put back turns on every hitch. He was still trying to get free when I left at 1.30pm. We were crying with laughter when we left! Wicked buggers, Lightermen
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