Monday, May 6, 2013
Oars Of The Roses: The Tudor Pull
The British are very fond of their ceremonial and welcome any excuse to don knee britches, big shirts and strange hats. If this can be combined with rowing and ancient and obscure institutions of state and trade, so much the better. The ‘Tudor Pull’ is just such an occasion. This event involves getting a piece of medieval water pipe (the ‘Stela’) from Hampton Court (Henry VIII’s Palace of 1514) twenty-five miles downriver to the Tower of London, a building nearly five hundred years older. This year the archaic bit of plumbing was carried on the magnificent Royal Barge Gloriana, rowed by eighteen Queens Watermen and escorted by twenty three shallops and cutters, many from Livery Companies of the City of London. Other river craft such as skiffs and gigs also joined in.
Now, you may be asking, ‘Why?’ Our friend Chris Partridge at ‘Rowing For Pleasure’ has one theory involving the Duke of Edinburgh. Another suggestion that it (somehow) commemorates the sinking of Queen Eleanor’s royal barge under London Bridge in 1256. The modern idea behind the Pull is that the present organisers, The Thames Traditional Rowing Association, use it ‘to support and promote the sport of fixed seat rowing and sculling on the River Thames in Waterman’s Cutters’. The event is also supported by ‘Thames Alive’, an organisation which ‘celebrates and promotes’ the river and events held on it. Whatever the reason for it, this unlikely story is perhaps best told in pictures.
Queen’s Bargemaster, who commands the twenty-four Royal Watermen. The gentleman on the right is John Redmond, the Master of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.
Jubilant Trust website.
The Worshipful Company of Founder’s cutter at Richmond. The 32-foot, fixed-seat Thames cutters are normally rowed by six people but, for events such as the Tudor Pull, two rowing positions are replaced with passenger seating and a canopy. Flags and sometimes sideboards are also mounted.
HMS President. It is the only boat in the flotilla that is entitled to fly the ‘White Ensign’ of the Royal Navy. Six naval ratings provide the power, a Lieutenant does the steering and a Commander and a dog provide the dead-weight. The canine is part of a theme of ‘dogs in boats’ on HTBS. This is from June 2012 and this is from March 2013.
here. Despite its light blue and gold colouring and flag bearing three crowns it has no connections with Sweden.
Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers passes the Buddhist ‘Peace Pagoda’ in Battersea Park.
Worshipful Company of Barbers.
My thanks to the man behind this event, Malcolm Knight, the tireless Secretary of the Thames Traditional Rowing Association and a Director of Thames Alive. A retired Metropolitan Police Sergeant (specialising in riot training and self-defence) Malcolm has five world records for distance rowing and now gets paid to mess about in boats with Marine Film Services, a company that provides ‘all things boaty’ for the film and TV industry. Malcolm is evangelical about the Thames and traditional rowing and has also been heavily involved in organising things such as the Lord Mayor’s Show Flotilla (the first in 156 years), the Thames part of the Olympic Torch Relay and the manpowered section of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
© Photographs Tim Koch