- The Thames Barge Driving Race
The Thames Barge Driving Race or TOW Barge Driving Race is a river race that was set up in 1975 by a charity called The Transport On Water Association (TOW) with the backing of
Members of Parliamentand Members of the House of Lordsin the United Kingdom.
The race constists of about 11 teams of between 4 and 8 members who steer and row 30 ton barges over a seven mile course for about 90 minutes from
Greenwichto Westminster Bridge. Considerable skill is needed to pilot "unpowered" barges 'rowed under oars' or "sweeps" and ride tidalriver currents alone, up river. The event commemorates the skills of Lightermenwho moved freightthis way along the Thamesup until the 1930's and in a wider context it encourages ongoing interest in moving cargo via water and as a way to recruit younger people back into river trades.
The teams are normally made up of employees of Thames Lighterage companies,
Port of London Authorityor are sponsored by local businesses.The best places to view the race are Tower Bridge, London Bridgeand Westminster Bridge.
During the 1970's Britain suffered a major energy crisis and many politicians in the UK and USA were astutely looking at alternative ways to transport freight in ways that could reduce dependency on oil. The decline of the
British Empireand the opening of Tilbury docks caused the closure of the upriver docks on the river Thames and started a steep decline in traditional London lighterage which had transported large amounts of coal. Between 1967 and 1976 over 40 lighterage firms closed down. At the same time the UKs domestic central heating market emerged oil quickly replacing coal. The race thus reflected a more pragmatic political ethos and was a way of keeping alive a dying industry and its river skills as the energy crisis deepened further.
Other Thames river races
Doggett's Coat and Badge
Great River Race
Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon
*The University Boat Race
Head of the River Race
Southend Barge Match
Thames Sailing Barge
* Thames barge driving race http://www.thamesbargedrivingrace.info/
* 2007 http://www.portoflondon.co.uk/display_fixedpage.cfm/id/308
* 2006 http://www.greenlandpassage.co.uk/bargerace.html
* 2005 http://www.thamesworkboats.co.uk/Thames%20Barge%20Driving.htm
* 2001 http://www.thames.org.uk/pages/bargerace2001.html
* Port of London "Interactive Leisure Map" http://www.portoflondon.co.uk/display_fixedpage.cfm/id/550/site/leisure
* The Swiftstone Trust http://www.thames.org.uk/
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