The Company of
Watermen & Lightermen
of the River Thames

The Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames was founded in 1514, when the earliest Act of Parliament for regulating watermen, wherrymen and bargemen received Royal Assent from King Henry VIII.

Under a further Act of 1555  the Company introduced apprenticeships for those wishing to learn the skills of the Watermen. In 1700 the Lightermen (carriers of goods/cargo) joined  the Watermen’s Company. 

In 1780 The Company moved into its own purpose built hall in St Mary at Hill, where we can still be found today. The Company is a working guild and is very actively involved with the life of the River and those who work on it. The Company is governed by a Court of Assistants, led by the Master and four Wardens, who are elected annually by the Court.

Master’s Installation

Derek Mann, a working Waterman with more than 50 years’ experience on the River, was installed as the 195th Master of the Watermen’s Company on 14 July 2021.

Junior Wardens Ted Gradosielski BEM, Ted Manning and Tim Keech took their oaths, and Alderman Sir David Wootton will be installed as Senior Warden at the next Court meeting.

Following the ceremony, attended by the Wardens and Court, a small celebratory lunch was held.

The Master is pictured above, with his Wardens and the Clerk Ms Julie Lithgow.


We are so pleased to welcome back some of our apprentices today for their first training session since the pandemic! These apprentices have been in the training programme since before lockdown and we look forward to seeing much more of them. This was the first training session under the guidance of our new Training Manager

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The  three apprentices bound by Zoom during the pandemic in May 2020 were presented with their indentures in a special presentation at Watermen’s Hall. May we wish you all the very best of luck in your careers on the River Thames. Photo: Apprentices front row with their Masters back row from left. Joseph McFadyen (Master

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