Wherry

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Thames wherry built to 18th-century design at Kingston upon Thames Wherry01.JPG
Thames wherry built to 18th-century design at Kingston upon Thames
A Norfolk wherry on the River Bure. NorfolkWherryHathor.jpg
A Norfolk wherry on the River Bure.

A wherry is a type of boat that was traditionally used for carrying cargo or passengers on rivers and canals in England, and is particularly associated with the River Thames and the River Cam. They were also used on the Broadland rivers of Norfolk and Suffolk.

Contents

Regional usage in Great Britain

Tyne Wherry information sheet from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums collections Tyne Wherry A.jpg
Tyne Wherry information sheet from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums collections

London passenger wherries evolved into the Thames skiff, a gentleman's rowing boat. Wherries were clinker-built with long overhanging bows so that patrons could step ashore dryshod before landing stages were built along the river. It is the long angled bow that distinguishes the wherry and skiff from the gig and cutter which have steeper bows following the rise of the Royal Navy, and the building of landing stages.

The use of wherries on the River Cam in Cambridge was common and is described by Daniel Defoe in his journey through England. The use of wherries on the River Cam preceded the popularity of punting by Cambridge University students. [1] By the late 18th century, a name was given to the Norfolk wherry, a kind of sailing barge with large sails which was developed to replace an earlier cargo boat, the Norfolk Keel.

The term wherry is also associated with a particular type of lighter used on the River Tyne largely in connection with the coal trade. The last complete example Elswick No.2 is owned by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums service. [2] [3] There is a well documented study of the last surviving wrecked examples as surveyed in 2009. [4]

There is firm attestation that the term was used in the Irish Sea. Vessels like "Manx wherries" and "shell wherries" (the latter evidently based in Kirkcudbright for the shell fishery) are recorded in the early 19th century. Three shell wherries at least were active in 1810 and known to be of 10–12 tons and clinker built. [5]

Thames history

The term "wherry" or "wherrie" was a regular term used for a boat as the Coverdale Bible of 1535 speaks of "All whirry men, and all maryners vpo the see…" in the Book of Ezekiel.

Wherries along the tideway in London were water taxis operated by watermen and in Elizabethan times their use was widespread. A wherry could be rowed by two men with long oars or by a single waterman using short oars or 'sculls'. An Act of Parliament in 1555 specified that a wherry should be "22½ feet long and 4½ wide 'amidships'". [6] and could carry up to five passengers. [7] According to one account concerning Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, "Patrons were transported across the River Thames to Southwark by 'wherry boats'. At one time over two thousand wherries made their way to and from the theatre district."[ citation needed ]

During the eighteenth century rowing competitions for watermen became established on the Thames, and the prize was often a new wherry. The Sporting Magazine describes an event on 6 August 1795 as "the contest for the annual wherry given by the Proprietors of Vauxhall by six pairs of oars in three heats". In 1822 Bell's Life reported on a contest on 30 June between eight watermen belonging to the Temple Stairs for "a prize wherry given by the gentlemen of the Inns of Court" and on 31 July "the anniversary of the Grand Aquatic Regatta of the inhabitants of Queenhithe", when "a handsome Wherry" and other prizes were contended for by "six of the free watermen belonging to those stairs". [8] In 1820 there were still 3,000 wherries plying on the Thames, while in the same year there were only 1,200 hackney coaches. As late as 1829, the usual means of crossing the river from Westminster to Vauxhall was by boat, but the wherryman's trade came to an end when new bridges were built and cheap steamboats were put on the river. [9]

North American usage

In North America, particularly in the Penobscot Bay region of the Gulf of Maine, wherries became the preferred boat for the longshore Atlantic salmon fishery. The Lincolnville Salmon Wherry, the Rhodes Wherry, the Duck Trap Wherry, and the Christmas Wherry are still being built for recreational use. [10] They are generally long and narrow, with a straight stem, a wineglass stern and usually carvel planked (smooth sides). John Gardner writes that the single characteristic that distinguishes a wherry is its flat bottom that allows the boat to ground out in an upright position and serves as a shoe for dragging the boat up and down the beach. [11] The boat usually has two seats, one for the rower, and one in the stern sheets for the passenger, although longer ones can have a third seat forward. Just as the term "shell wherry" was recognised in 19th century Britain so also was it recognised in 19th century America, for sure in the vicinity of Boston in 1860. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Norfolk wherry

The Norfolk wherry is a type of boat used on The Broads in Norfolk and Suffolk, England. Three main types were developed over its life, all featuring the distinctive gaff rig with a single, high-peaked sail and the mast stepped well forward.

Yawl

A yawl is a type of boat. The term has several meanings. It can apply to the rig, to the hull type or to the use which the vessel is put.

Eights Week

Eights Week, also known as Summer Eights, is a four-day regatta of bumps races which constitutes the University of Oxford's main intercollegiate rowing event of the year. The regatta takes place in May of each year, from the Wednesday to the Saturday of the fifth week of Trinity Term. Men's and women's coxed eights compete in separate divisions for their colleges, with some colleges entering as many as five crews for each sex.

London River Services

London River Services Limited is a division of Transport for London (TfL), which manages passenger transport—leisure-oriented tourist services and commuter services—on the River Thames in London. It does not own or operate any boats itself, but licenses the services of operators.

Clinker (boat building)

Clinker built is a method of boat building where the edges of hull planks overlap each other. Where necessary in larger craft, shorter planks can be joined end to end into a longer strake or hull plank. The technique developed in northern Europe and was successfully used by the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians, Scandinavians, and typical for the Hanseatic cog. A contrasting method, where plank edges are butted smoothly seam to seam, is known as carvel construction.

Doggetts Coat and Badge

Doggett's Coat and Badge is the prize and name for the oldest rowing race in the world. Up to six apprentice watermen of the River Thames in England compete for this prestigious honour, which has been held every year since 1715. The 4 miles 5 furlongs race is rowed on the River Thames upstream from London Bridge to Cadogan Pier, Chelsea, passing under a total of eleven bridges en route. Originally, it was raced every 1 August against the outgoing tide, in the boats used by watermen to ferry passengers across the Thames. Today it is raced at a date and time, often in September, that coincides with the incoming tide, in contemporary single sculling boats.

The term skiff is used for a number of essentially unrelated styles of small boats. Traditionally, these are coastal craft or river craft used for leisure, as a utility craft and for fishing, and have a one-person or small crew. Sailing skiffs have developed into high performance competitive classes. Many of today's skiff classes are based in Australia and New Zealand in the form of 12 ft (3.66 m), 13 ft (3.96 m), 16 ft (4.88 m) and 18 ft (5.49 m) skiffs. The 29er, 49er, SKUD and Musto Skiff are all considered to have developed from the skiff concept, all of which are sailed internationally.

Punt (boat)

A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting is boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole. A punt should not be confused with a gondola, a shallow draft vessel that is structurally different, and which is propelled by an oar rather than a pole.

Keelboat

A keelboat is a riverine cargo-capable working boat, or a small- to mid-sized recreational sailing yacht. The boats in the first category have shallow structural keels, and are nearly flat-bottomed and often used leeboards if forced in open water, while modern recreational keelboats have prominent fixed fin keels, and considerable draft. The two terms may draw from cognate words with different final meaning.

Waterman (occupation)

A waterman is a river worker who transfers passengers across and along city centre rivers and estuaries in the United Kingdom and its colonies. Most notable are those on the River Thames and River Medway, but other rivers such as the River Tyne and River Dee, Wales, also had their watermen who formed guilds in medieval times..

Harry Clasper

Harry Clasper was a professional rower and boat builder from Tyneside in England. He was an innovative boat designer who pioneered the development of the racing shell and the use of outriggers. He is said to have invented spoon-shaped oars.

Iffley Lock

Iffley Lock is a lock on the River Thames in England near the village of Iffley, Oxfordshire. It is on the southern outskirts of Oxford. The original lock was built by the Oxford-Burcot Commission in 1631 and the Thames Navigation Commission replaced this in 1793. The lock has a set of rollers to allow punts and rowing boats to be moved between the water levels.

Sunbury Amateur Regatta

The Sunbury Amateur Regatta is a regatta on the River Thames at Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey, England with a rare visitors' boats lights display and fireworks event. It is for mainly traditional wooden types of boats with a few events for small sculling boats since its instigation in 1877 taking place by convention on a Saturday in early to mid August. The following day hosts the Edith Topsfield Junior Regatta.

A Thames skiff is a traditional River Thames wooden rowing boat used for the activity of skiffing. These boats evolved from Thames wherries in the Victorian era to meet a passion for river exploration and leisure outings on the water.

Single scull

A single scull is a rowing boat designed for a single person who propels the boat with two oars, one in each hand.

Skiffing

Skiffing refers to the sporting and leisure activity of rowing a Thames skiff. A Thames skiff is a traditional hand built clinker-built wooden craft of a design which has been seen on the River Thames and other waterways in England and other countries for nearly 200 years. Sculling means propelling the boat with a pair of oars (blades) as opposed to rowing which requires both hands on a single oar.

Mark Edwards (boatbuilder)

Mark Lochrin Edwards is a traditional boatbuilder based at Richmond Bridge in Richmond, London, England. He has constructed several significant reproductions of vintage boats and built the Royal barge Gloriana, the lead ship in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in June 2012.

The World Sculling Championship (1863–1957), evolved from the Championship of the Thames for professional scullers.

Robert Coombes, celebrated professional oarsman and Champion Sculler, was born at Vauxhall, Surrey.

Double scull

A double scull is a rowing boat used in the sport of competitive rowing. It is designed for two persons who propel the boat by sculling with two oars, one in each hand.

References

  1. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/travellers/Defoe/4
  2. http://freespace.virgin.net/l.carter/wherry.htm Photos and notes about Elswick No.2
  3. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tyne_Wherry_A.jpg This item and its neighbour B reproduce a Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums historical information sheet on the Elswick No. 2.
  4. http://heddonhistory.weebly.com/1/post/2013/02/no-wherries.html Heddon on the Wall Local History website retrieved 19 June 2009.
  5. "But what were shell wherries?" by David R Collin, The Galloway News , 13 June 2013.
  6. Calendar of State Papers Venetian, XV, p.102
  7. "Calendar of State Papers. Venetian. 1636–1639". Notes and Queries. CLXVIII: 89–90. 31 January 1925. doi:10.1093/nq/clxviii.jan31.89g. ISSN   1471-6941.
  8. "Sport, ancient and modern: Pastimes - British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  9. "The river Thames: Part 2 of 3 - British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  10. Walter J. Simmons Wherries 2004
  11. Gardner, John (2004). Building Classic Small Craft. Camden, Maine: International Marine/McGraw-Hill. p. 178. ISBN   0-07-142797-X.
  12. https://www.nytimes.com/1860/06/23/news/boating-matters-down-east-correspondence-of-the-new-york-times.html New York Times website retrieved 22 June 2013.