Doggett's Coat and Badge Race


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Doggett's Coat and Badge Race

August 1
Established in 1716 by Thomas Doggett, an actor and one of the owners of the Drury Lane Theatre in London, the Waterman's Derby is an annual rowing race held on the Thames River between Old Swan Pier and Cadogan Pier. Six young boatmen who have just completed their apprenticeships must row against the tide for a distance of four and a half miles. The winner receives a new pair of breeches, an orange coat, and—because the original race was to commemorate the crowning of King George I—a badge with the Hanoverian white horse on it. There are cash prizes as well: originally, 10 pounds for the winner, and six, five, four, three, or two pounds for the other rowers, according to the order in which they complete the race. When Doggett died in 1721, he left a legacy that would ensure the continuation of both the race and its prizes.
Nowadays, the prizes are significantly higher, beginning at 250 pounds for first place. The race is administered by the Fishmongers' Company, of which Doggett was a member.
CONTACTS:
Company of Watermen and Lightermen
16 St-Mary-at-Hill
London, EC3R 8EF United Kingdom
44-20-7283-2373; fax: 44-20-7283-0477
www.watermenshall.org
Fishmongers Company
Fishmongers Hall
London Bridge
London, EC4R 9EL United Kingdom
44-20-7626-3531; fax: 44-20-7929-1389
www.fishhall.co.uk
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 129
OxYear-1999, p. 318
(c)