On the hottest day in London since records began, about seventy-five London watermen found themselves sweating it out on the River Thames on Saturday (26 June) in the Annual Barge Driving Race.
GV PAN Barges being rowed away at start of race
SV ZOOM OUT AND IN Three barges racing close together
LV Passing the Tower of London
GV & SV Barges racing up river
LV & SV Barges start to turn, trapped by fleet of pleasure boats (2 shots)
SV Barge "Mayflower and Friends" being rowed up river (2 shots)
SV & LV Barge "Benjamin Franklin" being rowed up river (2 shots)
SV Barge "Happy Birthday America"
SV Boys on pleasure craft blowing bugles
GV Tower Bridge with pedestrians watching from rail (2 shots)
GV Barges passing beneath Tower Bridge
LV Winning barge "Pocahontas" receiving ships airens as it passes winning line
CU Thames watermen lined up at presentation ceremony
SV Ambassador Anne Armstrong presenting cup to winning skipper
SPORT: BARGE RACING
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Background: On the hottest day in London since records began, about seventy-five London watermen found themselves sweating it out on the River Thames on Saturday (26 June) in the Annual Barge Driving Race.
SYNOPSIS: The twenty-seven foot barges were rowed over a seven mile stretch of the river from Greenwich to Westminster. As last year, the organisers had agreed to run the race as part of the Greenwich Festival, and the theme chosen for the race was the Bicentennial Celebrations in the United States. The prizes were to be presented by Her Excellency, Mrs. Anne Armstrong, the United States Ambassador to Britain.
Each of the fifteen barges taking part was manned by five crew members, whose labours were made even more exhausting by temperatures in the nineties.
The Tower of London was just one of the famous historical London landmarks they passed as the race progressed. The competing barges were followed in the race up river by scores of pleasure craft, but other pleasure boats they met as they approached the half-way mark, caused them some difficulty. The watermen had to extricate their barges as quickly as possible to rejoin the race.
Many of the barges had adopted titles appropriate to the American theme. this one was crewed by friends of the Mayflower public house, which lies near the site where the original Mayflower ship was launched. Other American-influenced names included the Benjamin Franklin, the Paul Revere, the anne Armstrong, and the Pocahontas.
Some of the younger spectators gave he barges a bit of musical encouragement.
As the barges passed under Tower Bridge, the crews must have been relieved to know that they had passed the half-way mark on the seven mile course. At the finish, it was the Pocahontas that crossed the line first, and its victory was celebrated by nearby ships.
The barges and their crews then returned to Greenwich for the presentation ceremony. Mrs. Anne Armstrong presented the skipper of the Pocahontas with the trophy, and all the other competitors received an inscribed race medal. Then it was time to find a way to cool off.