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History Of Watermen Around The World?

Watermen In England

The Original Watermen in England were a very important part of commuting shipping and communication in early London on the Thames River.[1] Using small boats called skiffs the Watermen would ferry humans along and across the rivers of England.[2] With rutted country roads, and narrow congested city streets, the Thames was the fastest and most convenient highway in the area. Until the mid-1800's when the London Bridge was the only crossing below Kingston.[3]

Starting in 1197A.D. King Richard the 1st[4] sold all the rights over the Thames to the City of London Incorporated, which issued licensing to boats on the River. It remained under control of the royal family until 1351A.D. when King Edward the 3rd enacted an Act of Parliament prohibiting the obstruction of the River. Structures were being built into the river and canals for fishing, milling and many other purposes making the river crowded. Then in 1511 Henry the 8th granted a license (a form of licensed public transport) to Watermen that gave exclusive rights to carry passengers on the river. Then in 1544 alms houses for Watermen, called "St. Stephen Hospital" were built by Henry the 8th in the Woolstaple, New Palace Yard, Westminster. An Act of Parliament in 1555 galvanized the trade by setting up a corporation to govern tariffs and reduce accidents. The newly Incorporated business had jurisdiction over allWatermen working between Windsor (in Berkshire) and Grave-send (in Kent). The Act made the mayor of London choose annually eight of the "most qualified" Watermen to sit on the Board of Directors, and to implement policies and procedures. The Act specified a seven-year apprenticeship in order to gain an in depth knowledge of the complex waterways, currents and tides on the Thames. Watermen were now required to pay quarterly fees to the Corporation causing constant grievance and disputes among employees and Directors of the Board, who frequently were accused of taking bribes to "free" apprentice Watermen.

English Watermen fought for years to introduce more comprehensive reform into their business, but this fell with criticism. Ultimately resulting, on the eve of the English Civil War in 1643, the introduction of democracy. The Watermen at the 56 "head towns" were empowered to choose representatives, who would in turn propose candidates to become company administrators. This form of government survived until a new Act of Parliament in 1827 restored an allegorical form of government.[5]

The Company of Watermen and Lighter-men is a City Guild without Grant of Livery and licenses Thames Watermen. Its ancient apprenticeship index is a unique resource to genealogical research however despite its medieval guild roots it is an active lobbying force today. Working alongside The Passenger Boat Association, it consults and negotiates with national and local government and its agencies on behalf of its members. In 2003 funds were made available via CWL using government grants, to assist apprentices from the riverside east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham. The Doggett's Coat and Badge, which was first raced in 1715, is the oldest continuously run river race and is now claimed to be the oldest continually staged annual sporting event in the world. In 1975 a charity called Transport On Water (TOW) was founded by watermen and lightermen and people in public life. It aims to maintain the Thames and other waterways, including the river Medway, as working rivers. TOW has organized The Thames Barge Driving Race which has taken place annually in June, since 1974.

Watermen working on the Thames played a vital role in the very early movements that ultimately led to the creation of modern trade unionism in the United Kingdom, most notably in the writings of pamphleteer John Taylor (1580–1653) and later with the use of petitions or "petitions of grievances" in particular the petitions supporting the curtailment of the growth of hackney coaches in the 1700's. As far back as 1647, the House of Commons had specifically exempted them from land service — the use of Watermen inland armies as a direct result of the group pressure exerted by Watermen and it is clear that these spectacular early victories redefined the way they negotiated with those in power. Because there was no police, Watermen often died early in the city from riots and mob violence. Apart from the occupational risks of the life style, death by drowning, Watermen were particularly susceptible to Bronchial Diseases caught from working and living close to Rivers and canals of the Thames. The invention of the flush toilet in the 1845 quickly turned the Thames into a sewer drainage point causing Typhoid and Cholera outbreaks. This forced a redesign of London's sewage system in The Embankment area, a popular area for watermen to practice their trade. Totally redesigned or embanked sewage was sent away from the river. In 1859 an Act of Parliament abolished many privileges held by the Watermen further it set up the Thames Conservancy creating two bodies with responsibilities for the River. In 1872 the Labour Protection League gave lighter-men in particular the ability to negotiate better terms from their employers. Early intellectuals interested in social reform, such as Charles Dickens, chose to study watermen, before vividly describing their grim lives in the novel Our Mutual Friend 1865 and Watermen in a short essay entitled Silent Highwaymen in 1878, both works that sparked a new social conscience. Then disaster striking with the sinking of the Princess Alice with the loss of 600 lives, would profoundly shock and change public opinion within Victorian era society. In 1888 following the lead taken by stevedores, watermen and lighter-men joined the successful The Great London Dock Strike and the Amalgamated Society of Watermen, Lighter-men and Bargemen was hastily formed in 1893 eventually merging with the Transport and General Workers' Union in 1922. Many Watermen patriotically turned their barges over to government use during World War I. The transport of coal and goods was of particular importance during wartime, however, during the 1920s worsening conditions and industrial action again brought London's docks to a halt. The British Tugowners Association was founded in 1934. It allowed watermen to use their qualifications and skills, particularly in close quarter maneuvers, in ports overseas; skills that in recent years with the use of newer technology especially the introduction of bow thrusters have seen a decline in use. In the late 1930s speed trials took place on the Thames for Armed high speed launches some of which would latter form the fleet of boats used in Air Sea Rescue piloted by watermen during the 1940s. 400 barges or Thames lighters were turned over to military use as bum-boats or simply beached during the Normandy landings of 1944.

Watermen During War In England

Watermen in times of war were always the first to be enlisted on royal naval ships or merchant marine vessels. After The American War of 1812 many decided to settle in the United States of America even amongst the given hostilities. The arrival of steam power and boats in 1821 rendered the small skiffs obsolete for public transportation. Often the heavy wakes from steam boats rolled or sank small wherry's and scared potential passengers away.[6]

The Bombing during the Blitzkrieg (German) or lightning war, of World War II severely damaged the docks and by the 1960s, newer container technology and relocation to Tilbury had made the lighter-men's trade, lighter-age, obsolete. In terminal decline most up river docks had been abandoned by the 1980s. Some encouraged by Festival of Britain 1951 set up river cruise companies in the late 1940s others in the 1980s but by careful consolidation of ownership and concentrating on passenger comfort, some offering night cruises, have successfully dominated the sector on into the new millennium. In the lighter-age sector Cory Environmental, originally an amalgamation of eight companies, bucked the trend of this traditionally fragmented industry by capitalizing on an opportunity and used its empty coal barges, on return trips, to transport rubbish from London's streets generating enough extra revenue to buy up surplus barges from smaller lighter-age companies as they sold up. Between 1967 and 1976 over 40 lighter-age firms closed down.

Watermen and Their Wages England

Regular and well paid work for Thames watermen in economic downturns was on the so-called Bovril Boats, which continued as they had done since 1888, to take London's sewage from Crossness and Beckton to the Thames Estuary at Black Deep, where the sludge was discharged. This practice continued until the 1990s when new European Union legislation prevented the dumping of raw sewage at sea and forced this process to stop. It also corresponded with a fundamental change in public opinion on environmental issues and the use of marine resources. In 1999 Thames Clippers began operating a water-bus commuter service between eastern and central London. In 2003 a subsidy was made available by local government looking for the greener solution that reusing waterways provide. Passengers traveling by boat or river buses and the removal of London's rubbish by Lighter mean less traffic on London's streets and almost zero vibration from the movement of cargo.

Watermen Unions and Guilds.

This still needs research

English National Boat-Masters’ Licensing and The European Union

New legislation that came into effect in 2007 and setup a new national licensing system, covering all inland waterways. Rather than a five year apprenticeship for watermen, it enables anyone to become a captain after a less intense qualification period of just 24 months plus six month "local knowledge" training on the central stretch of the Thames. The license brings United Kingdom regulations into line with European Union licensing standards. Critics organized and claimed it would make the Thames, a tidal river below Teddington lock, creating hazardous travel. Under the old license system approximately 23 percent failed their first year apprenticeship exam. It is estimated that 600 Watermen and Lighter-men currently work the Thames.

History Of Watermen In The United States.

Many English Watermen that were inlisted in the American War of 1812 settled in the Chesapeake Bay area. The United States with its many rivers and bays in small communities on Tangier Island and Smith Island that have shown a unique character and dialects today. Simultaneously this area was settled by African American watermen. With the arrival of Steamboats in the 19th century many found work as river workers. Traditional watermen shy-ed away from the risks of steam power because of boiler explosions or fires that were common with early Steamboats and Afro-American watermen went on to financially profit by specializing in working on boats in The Mississippi River Steamboat economy of the 1840s.

History Of Watermen In Australia

Australia as in Britain uses the term "Watermen" to describe boatmen performing essentially similar jobs on coastal waterways in the British colonies. This was the case in Sydney Harbor and in Van Diemens Land, on the River Derwent around Hobart and the River Tamar around Launceston.

Regular ferry services both around and across the Derwent existed by 1810, and the first known licensed ferryman was Urias Allender in 1816. By the 1830's these ferrymen were known as "watermen" in official city records and the term continued to be used until the last licensed watermen retired in the 1940s. The heyday of Hobart Town's watermen was from the 1840s to the mid 1850s, when over 200 licenses were issued to different individuals, but with improved steam ferry services the numbers declined and in 1896 only 21 were licensed. By this stage they were mostly operating water taxi and excursion services around the port. They were held to be distinct from other categories of maritime workers such as the "boatmen", "craftsmen" or "bargemen" who operated sailing vessels in the river trade, and those men operating on the steam ferries and river steamers that also operated out of the port.

Tasmanian watermen's boats varied widely in size and style, from small dinghies for hire up to large sailing-rowing excursion boats around 28 feet in length. The largest of these, the 8-oared, 28-foot Admiral built in 1865, is currently undergoing restoration (as the last known 19th century Tasmanian waterman's boat). During the 20th century motor launches up to 48' ft. in length were licensed as waterman's boats, although the term has now slipped from common usage in favor of "excursion boats" or, incorrectly, "ferries." There are currently about ten vessels offering excursions out of the Port of Hobart.

The main base for Watermen in Hobart from the 1830s to the 1940s was at Waterman's Dock at the end of Murray Street in front of Parliament House. Watermen's licences were also issued for boatmen operating elsewhere in south-eastern Tasmania including Port Arthur and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.

History Of Watermen In China

History Of Watermen In Spain

Referances To This Work.