We host several Barge Driving Events on the tidal Thames throughout the year and below are some of those events with some details behind them, which we hope to see you at or even participate in!

Alex Hickman Apprentice Race

Saturday 14th August 2021

Apprentice Lighterman in the Upper Pool

The Alex Hickman Memorial Race will take part on Saturday 14th August 2021 between Greenwich Reach & Westminster Bridge. The race will see apprentice waterman rowing traditional Thames lighters along a 7 mile course passing beneath London’s bridges & past some of London’s most famous sights. One Freeman will be aboard each barge to provide the apprentices with support & a fleet of tugs & safety boats will be in attendance.

The race consists of three to five teams of Apprentices and reminds them of the traditional skills of lightermen who moved freight using just their own personal strength and ride the best possible tidal flows.

The Thames Barge Driving Trust’s official following boat will also be covering the race route providing unique views of the race.

25th July 2020, will see the 45th running of this prestige and unique London fun rowing event.

The race consists of about 12 teams of between 4 and 6 members who drive (steer and row) 30 ton barges over a seven mile course for about 90 minutes from Greenwich to Westminster Bridge.

Considerable skill is needed to pilot unpowered barges ‘rowed under oars’ or sweeps and ride tidal river currents alone, up river. The event commemorates the skills of lightermen who moved freight this way along the Thames up until the 1930s and in a wider context it encourages ongoing interest in moving cargo via water and as a way to recruit younger people back into river trades.

David Pope Challenge Race

Sunday 6th September 2020

Navy & Diana

Race Start: 12:30

Race Finish: 13:30 (Approx)

The barge-driving races re-enact the way Thames Watermen use to skillfully maneuvered their barges on the river Thames in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Modern-day Watermen and Lightermen compete in this race, with friends, family and apprentices between Waterloo Bridge to Tower Bridge in memory of Dave Pope who tragically lost his life at work.

Steve Faldo Memorial Race

Sunday 6th September 2020

Chatham Albatross, Shell Bay, Benjamin & Diana

Race Start: 14:00

Race Finish: 15:00 (Approx)

Sunday 10th September 201 the Thames will be playing host to the Steve Faldo Memorial Race, which is the Thames Watermen’s way of commemorating the anniversary of the Marchioness disaster and the race takes it’s name from Steve Faldo, who was the Captain on board on that fateful evening.

The event commemorates the skills of the traditional Thames Watermen and Lightermen who use to move freight around on the river Thames by barge, under the power of oars or ‘sweeps’ and riding the strong tidal currents of the River Thames alone. The barges used today can weigh up to 30 tonnes and no more than three crew members can row at any one time, using 20 foot oars to row along the river.

The annual Steve Faldo Memorial Barge Driving Race is a great Thames spectacle, and tests of the barge crews’ navigational skills. Watermen and Lightermen compete in the Steve Faldo Memorial Race between Tower Bridge and Westminster.

Perseverance Cup

This is a challenge cup which spars one barge to drive it’s way down the tidal Thames, from Watermen’s Stone (near Teddington Lock) on the falling ebb tide, passing underneath twenty-one bridges on route and trying to break the current record (Teddington Lock to Altas Barge Roads – some 22 sea miles), set in 1985.

This is usual run on either of the equinox tides per year.

Charity Barge Rowing Event

A course will be laid in Greenland Dock, which is non-tidal; the course will be approximately 1000yds. The barges weigh up to 30 tonnes and no more than three crew members can row at any one time, using 20 foot oars. This was the traditional method of moving cargo around the docks and the tidal Thames until the closure of the London Docks in the 1970s.

Corporate Driving Events

Thames Barge Driving are always willing to discuss the possibility of Corporate Barge Driving Events.

If you are interested, please contact us to discuss your requirements. Please note: Because the river Thames is a busy river we will need to plan around large vessel movements, peak periods and between particularly busy areas (Westminster to Greenwich, in particular).

Charity and Apprentice Training Driving Events

The barge-driving re-enact the way Thames Watermen skilfully manoeuvred their barges on the Thames in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Modern-day Watermen and Lightermen now take young apprentices, including those training via the Thames Training Alliance, out to help them understand about tide sets on the river and how to drive barges as part of their training.

There are also the odd Charity Driving Events; including the Dreadnaught Challenge from Greenwich toGravesend. and Apprentice Training Driving Events.