Thursday, 12 April 2012

Welcome aboard the Queen's flotilla

The Thames Pageant will be a Diamond Jubilee highlight. Here, Bargemaster and our new Lady writer introduces his new column – and tells how he’s preparing for the greatest show on Earth

Written by Ed Robertson

Hello, and allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ed Robertson and I am the Tallow Chandlers livery company’s Bargemaster for Thames cutter, The Dove. It’s not often in life you hear such a statement and I am sure many of you are rightly scratching your heads wondering what it all means. Well, under my command The Dove is one of the 1,000 boats due to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday, 3 June. And this is my chance to introduce you to the boat, the crew and the livery company behind it. So let’s start at the beginning.

The first Thames cutter was designed and developed in 1994 – inspired by historical prints of the River Thames in the 17th and 18th centuries. Around 30 have now been built, mostly owned by livery companies, with 27 scheduled to take part in the pageant. At 34 foot long, these . xed-seat boats are normally crewed by six oarsmen and a cox. The cutters can deal with the toughest conditions the Thames throws at them – and I’ve rowed one from London to Paris.

However, during events such as the pageant, they really come into their own. We replace the two stern oarsmen with extra seating and cushions, covered by a raised canopy, while sweeping wooden lute boards placed either side of The Dove enhance her lines. Flags and a wooden dove – the dove is part of the Tallow Chandlers’ coat of arms – perched atop the canopy complete the look – leaving us with a barge that would have made Henry VIII green with envy.

Riverman-02-382As Bargemaster it is my duty to care for The Dove as if she was my first born – a duty I accept in the absence of my own offspring – and to organise the crew both on and off the water. And where do the crew come from? We have around 20 rowers, both male and female, nearly all of whom are freemen or liverymen of the Tallow Chandlers.

For the pageant, The Dove will be crewed and coxed by Tallow Chandlers. Our Master and his wife will be passengers. The Tallow Chandlers are one of the 108 City of London livery companies and date back to 1462 when they were granted full livery status by King Edward IV.

Having largely left behind our heritage of working with rendered animal fat and lighting the City of London, we now focus on charitable work but still retain some of our ancient duties, most recently supplying Westminster Abbey with the candles for last year’s Royal Wedding.

This year, 2012, is a special year for the company, as we celebrate our 550th anniversary, but with the pageant less than nine weeks away, you can guess what the crew’s more excited about. It promises to be the time of our lives, and over the coming weeks I shall be keeping you up to date in this column…
 

The Thames Pageant will be a Diamond Jubilee highlight. Here, Bargemaster and Lady writer, Ed Robertson introduces his new column – and tells how he’s preparing for the greatest show on Earth

Hello, and allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ed Robertson and I am the Tallow Chandlers livery company’s Bargemaster for Thames cutter, The Dove. It’s not often in life you hear such a statement and I am sure many of you are rightly scratching your heads wondering what it all means. Well, under my command The Dove is one of the 1,000 boats due to take part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on Sunday, 3 June. And this is my chance to introduce you to the boat, the crew and the livery company behind it. So let’s start at the beginning.

The first Thames cutter was designed and developed in 1994 – inspired by historical prints of the River Thames in the 17th and 18th centuries. Around 30 have now been built, mostly owned by livery companies, with 27 scheduled to take part in the pageant. At 34 foot long, these . xed-seat boats are normally crewed by six oarsmen and a cox. The cutters can deal with the toughest conditions the Thames throws at them – and I’ve rowed one from London to Paris.

However, during events such as the pageant, they really come into their own. We replace the two stern oarsmen with extra seating and cushions, covered by a raised canopy, while sweeping wooden lute boards placed either side of The Dove enhance her lines. Flags and a wooden dove – the dove is part of the Tallow Chandlers’ coat of arms – perched atop the canopy complete the look – leaving us with a barge that would have made Henry VIII green with envy.


As Bargemaster it is my duty to care for The Dove as if she was my first born – a duty I accept in the absence of my own offspring – and to organise the crew both on and off the water. And where do the crew come from? We have around 20 rowers, both male and female, nearly all of whom are freemen or liverymen of the Tallow Chandlers.

For the pageant, The Dove will be crewed and coxed by Tallow Chandlers. Our Master and his wife will be passengers. The Tallow Chandlers are one of the 108 City of London livery companies and date back to 1462 when they were granted full livery status by King Edward IV.

Having largely left behind our heritage of working with rendered animal fat and lighting the City of London, we now focus on charitable work but still retain some of our ancient duties, most recently supplying Westminster Abbey with the candles for last year’s Royal Wedding.

This year, 2012, is a special year for the company, as we celebrate our 550th anniversary, but with the pageant less than nine weeks away, you can guess what the crew’s more excited about. It promises to be the time of our lives, and over the coming weeks I shall be keeping you up to date in this column…
 



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