Sunday 11 December 2011


Many thanks to ChrisP of Ornamental Passions - and Rowing for Pleasure - for identifying the boat in Tull's terracotta sign as a peterboat.

Peterboats were used for fishing on the Thames from mediaeval times until the nineteenth century. Legend has it that they used to ferry passengers between the cathedrals of Saxon London; their use for fishing is better documented and endured for centuries. They were double-ended rowing boats, well-balanced, typically with a well in the middle to hold the catch.

The small peterboat died out in the mid-nineteenth century, having evolved into the larger 'bawley' which could be around 30 feet long with sails. They were particularly popular around Leigh, where they were used for shrimp fishing. Meanwhile, growing pollution was driving fishing boats out of London altogether: by the end of the century, the Greenwich whitebait fisheries which had used these boats disappeared. (Ironically, for some time before that, the pollution in the water actually seemed to benefit the fish!) One of the city's characteristic craft thus vanished from its river.


LondonRemembers said...

Thanks for showing the connection between Peterboats and Bawleys. There’s a lovely weather vane in Lovat Lane in the shape of a Bawley: . We need someone to do a whole piece about the boats of London, including the new Jubilee barge!

CarolineLD said...

What a brilliant weather vane, thank you for the link!

Anonymous said...

This one on a building in Forest Gate looks very similar, .

CarolineLD said...

It really does - do you know what the building is? I wonder if there's a connection.